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Residency in Costa Rica will assist you with the preparation, organization and submission of the documents required to obtain either permanent or temporary residency in Costa Rica.

The four most common types of applications and their corresponding qualification Requirement are:

Retiree ("Pensionado")
This program applies to any person who is already retired from his/her usual occupation and who is already receiving pension benefits.

Income Requirement:  Must show proof of monthly income from a qualified pension plan of at least US$1,000 per month. 

A Pension plan can include amongst others:  local, state/provincial and Federal government pensions from most countries, Canadian Old Age Pension System, U.S. Social Security Administration and Railroad Retirement benefits, private pension plans, 401K plans, school district pension, IRA/Keogh distributions, etc.  To be a qualified pension plan, the pension must be payable to the resident applicant “for life.”  Many annuities can also qualify as a pension.

Currency Exchange Requirement:  Once approved, the resident agrees to exchange a minimum of US$1,000 per month (or $12,000 per year) into Costa Rican currency, “colones,” at the official dollar-colon exchange rate in effect at the time the exchange is made.

Married Couple Pension Income:  A married couple needs to show proof of only one (1) monthly pension, of at least US$1,000, for both husband and wife to qualify to apply for residency. The pension recipient can be either spouse.

In-Country Requirement:  Once approved, the resident agrees to live in Costa Rica for at least one (1) day per year.

Type of residency:  Temporary. The resident can apply for permanent residency after being a temporary resident for three (3) years.

Work Permit:  None issued until the resident becomes a permanent resident.


Legal resident ("Rentista")
This program applies to individuals who (1) are not yet retired, (2) do not need to work while living in Costa Rica, (3) are receiving guaranteed, unearned income from investments or other sources, and (4) who can prove that the non-earned income is guaranteed to be received for at least a period of 24 months (2 years).

Income Requirement:  The change under the 2012 Reglamento applies to the length of time the Rentista must prove his/her ability to receive $2,500 per month of unearned income.  The new, reduced, requirement is that applicant must prove his/her ability to receive $2,500 per month of unearned income for 24 months (2 years), instead of 60 months (5 years) under the prior requirement.

The most common method used to prove the unearned income is by means of a notarized letter from a bank or financial institution indicating the applicant has on deposit at least US$60,000 ($2,500 x 24 months) on a long term account such as a Certificate of Deposit, and that the applicant agrees to withdraw US$2,500 per month for the next 24 months.

Other sources of unearned income include income from savings, interest or dividends.  It is not mandatory that the bank account be held in Costa Rica.  However, it is easier to obtain the required bank letter when the account is held in a Costa Rican bank.

Married Couple Rentista Income:  The exact same $2,500 per month income requirement applies to a single, or to married applicants, or to applicants with dependent children.

IMPORTANT: Income from salary or wages, or any form of employment in general, does not qualify as unearned income and cannot be used to apply for Rentista status.

Currency Exchange Requirement:  Once approved, the resident agrees to exchange US$2,500 per month (or $30,000 per year) into Costa Rican currency, “colones,” at the official dollar-colon exchange rate in effect at the time of the exchange.

In-Country Requirement:  Once approved, the resident agrees to live in Costa Rica for at least one (1) day per year.

Type of residency:  Temporary. The resident can apply for permanent residency after being a temporary resident for three (3) years.

Work Permit:  None issued until the resident becomes a permanent resident

Business/Investor (Inversionista")
An Inversionista is an individual who makes a direct investment in Costa Rica of at least US$200,000.  The investment can be made in any type of business or in real estate.

The applicant must prove that the amount already invested (not the current or future value) has a registered or verifiable value of at least US$200,000 (Two Hundred Thousand dollars)

Type of investments:  The investment can be made in any type of business, including manufacturing, transportation, hospitality –hotels, B&B, bar, restaurant, etc.; tourism industry –tours, nature walks, amusement and adventure-type parks, etc.; commercial real estate; and  non-commercial real estate (new).

Non-Commercial Real Estate (new):  Although for the last 3 years Migracion has allowed the investment of at least US$200,000 in a home or land for noncommercial intended use as the basis for inversionista applications, the 2012 Reglamento codified this form of investment, and incorporated it into the Immigration Law.  This type of investment can include the purchase price of a home in Costa Rica for personal use, and the purchase of land held for future development, or for preservation, including ecological, environmental or watershed preservation purposes.

VERY IMPORTANT:  The only property value considered by Migracion is the value of the property as registered with the Municipalidad for the purpose of levying and collecting property tax on your property. The assessed value of the property must be at least $200,000.

Qualified Forestry Plantation Project  (reinstated):  The 2012 Reglamento allows an investor to make an investment of at least US$100,000 in a qualified Forestry Plantation project.  Typically, the investment is made in a Teak, or similar genus, tree farm.

Currency Exchange Requirement:  None.

Type of residency:  Temporary. The resident can apply for permanent residency after being a temporary resident for three (3) years.

"The Vínculo" Program Married to or Relationship to Costa Rican Citizen
The non-Costa Rican applicant must prove that he/she has a relationship of the first degree, either by marriage or by birth, with a Costa Rican citizen, and the Costa Rican citizen must be willing to sponsor the applicant’s residency.

The Vínculo Program includes applications for a spouse, son, daughter, father, mother, and unmarried siblings (brothers or sisters – age and marital status limitations apply), but the program does not include extended family members such as grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins.

  • Vínculo by Marriage:

Registration of Marriage with Registro Civil:  Prior to the application being filed (1) the marriage must be officially recorded with the Registro Civil in Costa Rica and (2) the Registro must be able to issue a certified copy of the marriage certificate.

This requirement is particularly important when the marriage took place outside of Costa Rica.  The registration can take as long as four months to be processed by the Registro Civil.

Interview at Migracion:  the 2012 Reglamento requires that Vínculo applicants need to prove that the marriage is legit and not a sham if the couple has been married for less than 2 years on the date the application is filed. Both spouses are now required to attend a personal interview and to fill in a marriage questionnaire at Migracion shortly after the application is filed.

In-Country Requirement:  Once approved, the resident agrees to live in Costa Rica for at least one (1) day per year.

Type of residency:  Temporary. The temporary resident can apply for permanent residency after 3 years.

Work permit:  Yes. All residencies approved under the Vinculo program have a built-in work permit.

  • Vínculo by having a child born in Costa Rica:

    Vínculo applications based upon having a child born in Costa Rica are approved as permanent residents. The application can include the parent(s) and siblings (brothers and sisters) of the Costa Rican citizen.

Parents Interview at Migracion (new):  The parents of the Costa Rican-born child are required to attend an interview at Migracion to state the parents are committed to the support and care of the child.

Work permit:  Yes. All residencies approved under the Vinculo program have a built-in work permit.

Same Gender Partners/Spouses/Domestic Partnerships: 
Please note that Costa Rica does not currently recognize same gender marriages, domestic partnerships or unions even when legally married or recognized in the country of origin.

Each partner in a Same Gender relationship must apply for residency independently of the other partner, and each partner must meet the income and other requirements on his/her own.

Other Programs- Temporary residency:
Residency in Costa Rica can also assist you with the preparation, organization and submission of the documents required to obtain your temporary residency in Costa Rica as: member of the clergy, employee or representative of foreign company working in Costa Rica, including: executive level personnel, technical and professional staff. 

Please note that to obtain a work permit is almost as difficult as applying for residency. It requires that the applicant have a bona fide job offer and that the company offering the job must provide a large amount of documentation and information regarding the company itself, the job offer and a certification of the reasons the non-Costa Rican employment candidate is uniquely qualified for the position.

The requirements for these types of temporary residencies are in flux and changes frequently.

Key Documents Required for All Applications

Document requirements:  
(1) None of the required documents can be older than six (6) months on the date the application is filed.

(2) All documents issued outside of Costa Rica must be authenticated either by an apostille or by a “legalization.” 

  • Birth Certificate
  • Police Clearance Letter
  • Current Passport
  • Proof of Consular Registration
  • Recent passport-type photographs
  • If spouse is also applying:  a copy of the Marriage Certificate
  • Pensionado and Rentistas:  Proof of Income Lette
  • Inversionistas: Must also show proof of having made a direct, verifiable investment of US$200,000 in Costa Rica and will need to present additional documentation pertaining to the investment

Please note that there are additional requirements to qualify for each of these residency categories, and, in particular for applications under the Inversionista Program.

Requirements are subject to change according to Mígracion’s rulings and guidelines.

We know this is a lot of information. Not to worry! We keep the application process simple.

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