Immigrating To Costa Rica: Residency Requirements

by Quatro Legal Immigration Team | June. 13, 2024 | Article, Immigration

Costa Rica is renowned for its pura vida lifestyle, lush nature, and incredible fauna. However, like any other country, entering legally entails certain formalities. Therefore, it’s crucial for every traveler to understand that foreign citizens may enter the country as tourists without a visa, depending on their country of origin. Citizens of the United States, Canada, and most European countries enjoy this privilege. If you’re not from one of these nationalities, it’s advisable to research whether an entrance visa is required.

For all Costa Rican immigration residency categories, the “Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería” (DGME), or General Directorate of Immigration, requires a standard set of documents from the country of origin. These include a birth certificate, marriage certificate, and criminal records. To obtain Costa Rican residency, documents must be apostilled and 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, only criminal records issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Washington D.C., duly apostilled by the respective Secretary of State, are acceptable. Police records issued by country or local authorities will be rejected by the Directorate of Immigration.

For Canadian citizens, only police records issued by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) are acceptable. Canada has recently 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 processed 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.

When foreigners come to Costa Rica for investment, business setup, vacation, or retirement, they often inquire about the different visa or 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 Rican residency options for foreign nationals fall under the “temporary residency” category. These residencies must be renewed periodically and prohibit the applicant from working or engaging in any remunerated physical or intellectual activity.

The three most common Costa Rican temporary residencies that our clients apply for are: Pensioner, Rentista, and Investor.

The general requirements for any of the residency applications described above include:

– Completed immigration form.
– Application letter and special power of attorney.
– Directorate of Immigration information consent letter.
– Deposit of US$200.00 at Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) for immigration fees.
– Deposit of US$50.00 at Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) for immigration fees.
– Deposit of 1,000 colones at BCR Bank for immigration fees.
– Four passport-size pictures.
– Fingerprints taken at Costa Rica’s Ministry of Public Security.
– Consular Registration with the Consulate of the applicant’s country.
– Birth certificate, duly apostilled.
– Criminal record, duly apostilled, from the country of residence.

Even though providing information is our specialty at Quatro Legal, please remember to seek comprehensive advice to ensure you are fully prepared to become a Costa Rican resident!

María José Mathus
Immigration Specialist

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