Immigration. Travel. Living.

Costa Rica: relocation guide

Flag of Costa Rica

The country is bordered by land by Ecuador, Nicaragua, Panama, and Cocos Islands. While to the northeast and southwest lie the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean respectively.

Costa Rica is a stable democracy that spends almost 7% of its GDP on education compared to the global average of 4.4%. It is no wonder that the country offers a very educated workforce. In recent years the country has diversified into many sectors, which were previously dependent heavily on agriculture. Costa Rica offers financial & corporate services to foreign countries, pharmaceuticals, and eco-tourism.

Tax relaxations, ease of doing business, stable and democratic government policies, and a free economy makes Costa Rica a very attractive location for investors, multi-national companies, and FDI who are always eager to obtain immigration to reap maximum benefits.

Why Immigrate to Costa Rica?

Reputed to be the “happiest country in the world” Costa Rica has many reasons one would want to obtain permanent residency. The cost of living in Costa Rica is low as compared to the USA or CANADA. House rentals have remained relatively stable throughout the country. Groceries, transportation, and healthcare facilities too are inexpensive comparatively. Expatriates can choose from two healthcare systems; the government-operated universal healthcare system, known as Caja. Or the private system which is a bit pricey. Both the systems are world-class by any standard.

Due to decades of a stable democratic form of government, Costa Rica is a very safe and secure place to live in. The cities are vibrant and full of activities, while the beaches offer a serene experience. Expatriates can opt to live anywhere to suit their preferences and budget. Cities have a happening nightlife, an essential feature for expatriates who ought to establish new social networks.

Costa Ricans are very friendly people who take pride in their centuries-old customs and traditions. They are generally very sophisticated and treat everyone with equality. Mob fights, road rages, and quarrels are extremely rare, close to non-existent.

Sunlight is a symbol of happiness and prosperity in many cultures. Costa Ricans enjoy 12 hours of sunlight every day, round the year. The weather is never extreme. You can take a walk in the jungles or explore a beach at 30 degrees Celsius. The exotic beaches of Costa Rica display golden and silver sand, are exquisitely clean and are easily accessible by private car or public transport.

A luxurious house within walking distance of a beach won’t cost more than US$ 1,500/mo. Many expatriates prefer living in one of these for at least a few short years.

Immigration & immigration programs

trees near seashore

Temporary resident visa

A temporary residency visa under “rentista” category is offered to foreigners who wish to immigrate to the country. The most basic requirement is that the applicant must have a steady flow of income amounting to US$ 2,500/mo for at least 2 years consistently.

The applicants usually deposit US$60,000 in a local bank and a commitment that he/she will make the minimum monthly requirement available each month. The amount covers the individual, his/her spouse, and minor children under 25.). In case the family has more dependents the additional amount is required to be deposited and committed.

The validity of this type of permit is two years and is renewable provided the conditions and requirements are met. A fresh deposit of US$ 60,000 and proof that the income was received in the Country. A temporary resident must spend four months in the country in a year, whether continuously or in periods.

A temporary residency allows a person to establish and operate their own business, however, he/she can not work as an employee.

Permanent residence

A person who stays in Costa Rica for more than three years on a temporary resident visa becomes eligible for permanent resident status. Permanent residency in the country comes with added benefits. He/she can work as an employee for a Costa Rican citizen. Another benefit is that the minimum time to be spent inside the country decreases to just seventy-two hours, once a year, i.e. 3 days in a year. The renewal period for permanent residency is five years.

Another way of acquiring a permanent residency is if a person is in a matrimonial or any other first-degree relationship (a newborn child, etc.) with a Costa Rican citizen. In this case, the person may apply for permanent residency even if he/she does not satisfy the residency requirements otherwise obligatory.


Spending seven years in Costa Rica either on temporary or permanent visa status makes a person eligible to apply for “Citizenship” (naturalization). A citizen naturalized can thus obtain a Costa Rican passport, and most importantly, usually naturalized citizens are not required to abandon their previous citizenship.

Generally, by the time a person becomes eligible for citizenship status, he/she has acquired enough knowledge of the Spanish language, the Costa Rican culture, history, and values. A test is required to be taken by all applicants, and passing that test is necessary. Additionally, good conduct and civil social behavior will add a lot of value to one’s application.


No nationality is officially banned to immigrate to Costa Rica, however, a few requirements need to be satisfied. As stated earlier, the applicant person must prove beyond doubt, with documentary evidence that he/she can maintain a monthly stable income of US$ 2,500 for two years. In case the applicant’s income comes from abroad, it must be proved that it is legal and further authenticated by concerned authorities. A portion of one’s income must go to the “Social Security Fund”, usually 9-10% percent of the net income, monthly.

How to apply

Aspirants can download an application form from Documentation is required to vary by type of residency. The official website, linked above, offers all details. Usually, the entire process may take around 4 to 6 months.

To initiate the process, an applicant must fill out an affiliation form and send a signed copy to the immigration office of Costa Rica. The said authority usually takes 60 days to verify the documents and respond back. Applicants must state the reasons they are interested in residency. A payment of US$ 50 is required to be deposited in the official account Costa Rican immigration department, further a fee of US$ 1.5-2 for each page attached to the application.

Furthermore, a certified and attested document showing that the applicant holds no criminal records is not affiliated with any banned outfits, and is not engaged in any suspicious activities is also a compulsory step. Note that the citizenship process can only be initiated when and if the applicant becomes legal in the country; having a valid visa.

Contact us