How can I obtain an immigration status and what are the most common costa rican residency categories?

by Quatro Legal Immigration Team | Jan. 2, 2024 | Article, Immigration

For all immigration Costa Rican residency categories, the “Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería” (DGME), or the General Directorate of Immigration, requires a standard set of documents from the country of origin, including birth certificate, marriage certificate and criminal records. To obtain a Costa Rica residency documents must be apostilled and must have been issued within six months of the filing date. For countries that do not issue apostilles, documents must be legalized by the competent government authority and authenticated by the nearest Costa Rican Consulate.

For United States citizens, the only acceptable criminal record is issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigations out of Washington D.C., which must be duly apostilled by the respective Secretary of State. Police records issued by country or local authorities will be rejected by the Directorate of Immigration.

For Canadian citizens, the only acceptable police records are issued by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police RCMP. Canada has just become a signatory to the Hague Convention and, as such, the apostille will be available in Canadian territory as of January 11th, 2024. The apostille of documents must be done through Global Affairs Canada.

For the Costa Rican Residency Process, all documents from abroad must be translated into Spanish in Costa Rica by an official translator authorized by the Costa Rican Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Normally, when foreign nationals come to Costa Rica to invest, set up a business, take a vacation or retire, they inquire about the different visas or Costa Rican residency options available to them. Residency applications are processed by the General Directorate of Immigration. According to Immigration Act N° 8764, there are two major residency categories: temporary and permanent. Most Costa Rica residency options for foreign nationals are regulated under the “temporary residency” category. These residencies must be renewed periodically and prohibit the applicant from working or performing any remunerated physical or intellectual activity.

The three most common Costa Rican temporary residencies that our clients apply for are the following: Pensioner, Rentista (fixed income) and Investor.

The general requirements for any of the residency applications described above are:
a) Completed immigration form.
b) Application letter and special power of attorney.
c) Directorate of Immigration information consent letter.
d) Deposit of US$200.00, legal tender of the United States of America, at Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) for immigration fees. The deposit must include the applicant’s full name.
e) Deposit of US$50.00, legal tender of the United States of America, at Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) for immigration fees. The deposit must include the applicant’s full name.
f) Deposit of 1,000 colones at BCR Bank for immigration fees. The deposit must include the applicant’s full name.
g) Four passport-size pictures.
h) Fingerprints to be taken at Costa Rica’s “Ministerio de Seguridad Pública”, or Ministry of Public Security. An appointment can be made throught their online platform and there are different locations. There is a form that needs to be submitted at the appointment. See Question 13 for more information.
i) Consular Registration with the Consulate of the applicant’s country. For United States citizens, use link: step.state.gov For Canadian citizens, use link: travel.gc.ca
j) Birth certificate, duly apostilled. The issue date of the apostille must be within six months.
k) Criminal record, duly apostilled, from the country of residence. The issue date of the apostille must be within six months. For American citizens, criminal records must be issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in Washington D.C.; for Canadian citizens, they must be issued by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP); and for citizens of the United Kingdom, they must be issued by ACRO Criminal Records Office.

Even though providing information is our thing in Quatro Legal, please remember to be fully counseled to make sure you are ready to become a Costa Rica resident!

For more information please fill out the courtesy e-meeting form at the bottom. We will be glad to assist you!

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