Residency Eligibility

If you plan to permanently relocate to Costa Rica, you should also plan to become a legal resident. There are several paths to legal residency, which are outlined below. We recommend that you consult a lawyer before beginning the process since Costa Rican residency requires a lot of paperwork and knowledge of Spanish legalese.

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Permanent Residency

This is the most flexible form of Costa Rican residency.

Application Requirements: First-degree relationship to a Costa Rican citizen.

  • Parents of minor Costa Rican citizens
  • Children of Costa Rican citizens: May only apply through age 25
  • Parents or sibling caretakers of disabled Costa Rican citizens
  • Minor siblings of Costa Rican citizens
  • Additionally, expats who have had legal temporary residency (see below) for at least three years may apply for permanent residency.
  • Note: As of March 2010, spouses of Costa Rican citizens do not qualify for permanent residency. They must apply for temporary residency.

Currency Exchange Requirement: There are no monthly currency exchange requirements.

Caja (Public Health Insurance) Requirement: Permanent residents are required to affiliate with the public health system (CCSS). This may be through your employer or as a voluntary member or an independent worker.

Dependents: Costa Rican permanent residents may claim spouses and first-degree family members (for example, minor children).

Work Status: You are legal to work in Costa Rica. You may also own a company and receive income.

Minimum Residency Requirement: As a permanent resident, you must visit Costa Rica at least once per year for a minimum of 72 hours.

Length of Validity: Permanent residents are required to renew their residency every year.

 

Pensionado (Retiree) Temporary Residency

This residency is reserved for individuals with a fixed lifetime income.

Application Requirements: You must prove a monthly income of $1000 or more from a pension or retirement fund. To do so, you must:

  • File with Immigration an official document, legalized by the Direccion General (see important Immigration Addresses), that shows you will receive a lifetime monthly pension, generated outside of Costa Rica, for an amount of at least USD$1,000 or its equivalent in Costa Rican colones. Contact Immigration for more details.

Exchange Requirement: To cover living expenses, pensionados must withdraw and convert $1,000 into Costa Rican colones every month.

Caja (Public Health Insurance) Requirement: Pensionados are required to affiliate with the public health system (CCSS) as either a voluntary member or an independent worker.

Dependents: You may claim a spouse and dependents under 18 years of age.

Work Status: As a pensionado, you do not have the legal right to work. However, you can own a company and collect income.

Minimum Residency Requirement: You must spend at least four months annually in Costa Rica.

Length of Validity: Pensionado status is valid for five years. You may either apply for permanent residency after the first three years (see above), or you may re-apply for Pensionado temporary residency after the five-year term expires. You must renew your identification card every year.

 

Rentista (Annuity Holder) Temporary Residency

This residency is a popular option since it requires only a bank deposit.

Application Requirements: You must deposit a lump payment of $150,000 into a Costa Rican bank account or prove that you will receive an annuity payment of at least $2,500 per month over the course of two years. To do so, you must:

  • Present to Immigration an official document, legalized by the Direccion General (see important Immigration Addresses), that proves you will receive a permanent and stable monthly payment of at least $2,500, generated outside of Costa Rica or by the banks of the Sistema Bancario Nacional.
  • Demonstrate that during a period of at least two years, this annuity payment cannot be deducted from a deposit made in any bank outside of Costa Rica or the Sistema Bancario Nacional, unless it generates this amount in monthly interest.

Exchange Requirement: To cover living expenses, rentistas are required to withdraw and convert $2,500 into Costa Rican colones every month.

Caja (Public Health Insurance) Requirement: Rentistas are required to affiliate with the public health system (CCSS) as either a voluntary member or an independent worker.

Dependents: You may claim a spouse and dependents under 18 years of age.

Work Status: Rentistas do not have the legal right to work as employees. They are allowed to own a company and collect income.

Minimum Residency Requirement: You must reside in Costa Rica for at least four months each year.

Length of Validity: Rentista status is valid for five years. You may either apply for permanent residency after the first three years (see above), or you may re-apply for Rentista temporary residency after the five-year term expires. You must renew your identification card every year.

 

Inversionista (Investors) Temporary Residency

Inversionistas, or investors, are required to invest more funds up-front, but are allowed to work in Costa Rica.

Application Requirements: You must invest $50,000- $200,000 in a government-approved industry: tourism and product export generally require a $50,000 investment; pre-approved reforestation projects require a $100,000 investment; all other projects require $200,000.

To do this, you must present to Immigration proof of an investment project or privately owned real estate valued  for at least  $200,000.

The investment or real estate must be:

  • A fully financed project   that contributes to the country’s economic and/or social development
  • Certified by a Costa Rican  Public Accountant that demonstrates your economic solvency and states that the company or project’s financial goals are within the parameters of the activity to which it is devoted.
  • Privately owned property valued at a minimum of  $200,000

Exchange Requirement: There are no monthly currency exchange requirements.

Caja (Public Health Insurance) Requirement: Inversionista residents are required to affiliate with the public health system (CCSS). This may be as a voluntary member or an independent worker.

Dependents: You cannot claim a spouse or dependent children.

Work Status: You are allowed to work for and receive income from your investment project. You may not work as an employee for another company.

Minimum Residency Requirement: You must reside in Costa Rica for at least six months per year.

Length of Validity: Inversionista status must be renewed every year. You may apply for permanent residency after the first three years (see above).

 

Representante

This residency is reserved for company directors, so very few people qualify.

Application Requirements: You must be the director of an international company that has a Costa Rican branch or office. The company must meet certain requirements, including the employment of a certain percentage of Costa Ricans and the certification of financial statements by a Costa Rican accountant.

Exchange Requirement: There are no monthly currency exchange requirements.

Caja (Public Health Insurance) Requirement: Representante residents are required to affiliate with the public health system (CCSS). This may be as a voluntary member or an independent worker.

Dependents: You may not claim a spouse or dependent children.

Work Status: You are legally allowed to work for and receive income from the company you represent.

Length of Validity: Representante status must be renewed every year. You may apply for permanent residency after the first three years (see above).

 

*Source: US Dept of State

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Jacqueline Marie Monacell

Jacqueline Monacell is the founder and president of Your Costa Rica Contact and has been living and working in Costa Rica since 1994. She has lived and studied in Spain, traveled and worked extensively throughout Central America and is completely bilingual.

Jacqui is originally from Rochester, New York where she lived until graduating from Pittsford Mendon High School. After high school she moved to New England and attended the University of New Hampshire  where she graduated cum laude with a BA in International Affairs and Spanish. She studied abroad in both Granada and Almeria, Spain. Immediately following graduation, Jacqui moved to Costa Rica and began her career.

In 1995, Jacqueline formed a strategic partnership with Car Doc SA (www.tallercardoc.com) and began working as the Central American Regional Manager with Mitchell International and Mitchell, US, software solutions companies specializing in the automotive and insurance industries. In 2002 she also began managing the regional distribution of UK-based Autodata Ltd. products. Working closely with these automotive software specialists, Jacqueline acquired extensive experience in the automotive collision and repair industry at an international level.

In 2005, Jacqui began Your Costa Rica Contact, a relocation and consulting company based in San José, Costa Rica. With her experience in the automotive industry, the company initially focused on assisting clients to find dependable transportation at fair prices. Your Costa Rica Contact gradually expanded to offer a wide variety of services for people relocating or spending extended periods of time in Costa Rica.

As an expatriate herself, Jacqui understands first-hand how difficult and frustrating the transition of relocating to Costa Rica can be and so the vision of the company today is to deliver top services at reasonable prices to foreign residents or tourists provided through YCRC's industrious and trustworthy network of local professionals.

In her free time, Jacqui enjoys playing tennis, mountain biking, cooking, reading,  riding motorcycles and spending time with her husband and dogs.