If you're thinking about moving to Costa Rica and have no idea what the required residency procedures are, you've come to the right place. When it comes to applying for residency in Costa Rica, there are general and specific requirements that need to be filled and documents that must be submitted. You should submit any request for residency in Costa Rica to the Costa Rican Consulate in your country. We recommend you begin this process at least 3 months prior to your anticipated departure.
The following are the general requirements that need to be filled for any residency application in Costa Rica:
1. You should submit an application addressed to the Director General of Migration. If you can't be there in person, you should grant a special power of attorney – notarized, authenticated, and in Spanish – to a representative in the USA who will sign the residence application form and submit all the documents to the Consulate.
2. You should grant special authority to a representative (apoderado) by submitting a document, signed by you and notarized and authenticated in the Consulate, that shows the personal details of the representative and the address to which they receive notifications within the judicial perimeter of San Jose.
3. Birth Certificate that clearly shows the parents' name (required for all applicants, spouse, and dependent children up to 18 years or up to 25 if a university student with a proof of enrollment) *
4. Police Certificate (not older than six months) issued by the state where you have lived for the past two years (required for all applicants, spouse, and all dependent children aged 18 to 25) *
5. Applications received after November 15th, 2002 will require an FBI identification record. (Required for all applicants, spouse, and all dependent children aged 18 to 25)
6. Marriage Certificate (if found) *
7. Photocopy of the passport certified by the Consulate or certified and authenticated by a Notary Public (required for all applicants, spouse, and any dependent children)
8. Four recent forehead passport-size photographs (required for all applicants, spouse, and any dependent children)
9. Eligible individuals can claim their spouses, children under 18, and older children with disabilities as dependents. A son or daughter between 18 and 25 can be considered dependents if they are enrolled in a university.
10. In the case of a family group, an individual file is required for each member. Parents should sign applications on behalf of their minor children.
11. For practicing a profession, you should provide your diplomas. For pursuing other professional activities, relevant documentation – such as courses and studies undertaken – should be submitted as well.
* All documents listed in 3, 4, and 6 must be authenticated by the Costa Rican Consulate and translated into Spanish. Before they are submitted to the Consulate, these documents must be notarized and also apostilled by the respective states in which they originated.
You should send all the required documents first to the Consulate of your jurisdiction to be checked. If the documents are complete, you – or your representative – will be asked to go to the Consulate for an interview and sign the application you have already sent.
The documents will be sent to Migration in Costa Rica, who will contact your representative in Costa Rica. For this purpose, you will have to pay for the courier service.
In addition to the general requirements mentioned above for residency application, you should fulfill the following specific requirements depending on your immigration category. You do not have to send those documents together with the ones mentioned above. However, if they are missing, you – or your representative – will be notified once Migration receives and processes the documents sent by the Consulate. You will be given 10 days to complete those documents if they are issued in Costa Rica, or 30 days if they are issued abroad. Please note that some documents need to be authenticated by the Costa Rican Consulate first.
12. If you're a retiree, you should be receiving at least US $ 600 a month from a qualified retirement plan or a lifetime pension source outside Costa Rica.
13. Original Income Certificate from the company, government, or institution guaranteeing that the monthly income will be sent to Costa Rica in your name
14. You could also demonstrate that you receive the minimum amount of US $ 600 from interests or dividends from investments on foreign currency deposited in a Costa Rican government bank.
15. The Police Certificate mentioned above should be issued by the state where you have lived for the last six months.
16. The foreign currency you receive as a monthly pension should be converted into the Costa Rican currency (colones). This could be certified by the Costa Rican Central Bank or any other government bank.
17. You (and your dependents) cannot work and / or earn a salary in Costa Rica. You can, however, administer your own investments but without a salary. In addition, a physical presence in Costa Rica for a minimum of 4 months each year is required.
12. If you're a rentista, you should demonstrate that you would receive income from an investment such as a certificate of deposit or annuity of at least US $ 1,000 per month per person (or couple) and US $ 500 per children under 18 in the same family group.
13. Original Income Certificate from the banking institution (in a foreign country or in Costa Rica) guaranteeing that they hold sufficient funds in a stable and permanent account to provide an income of US $ 1,000 per month for at least five years and that the monthly income will be sent to Costa Rica in your name.
14. Your income should be converted into Costa Rican colones, whose exchange rate is established by the Central Bank.
15. You could have a deposit of US $ 60,000 in an approved Costa Rican bank to meet the government requirements for the residency status.
16. You (and your dependents) cannot work and / or earn a salary in Costa Rica. You can, however, administer your own investments but without a salary. In addition, a physical presence in Costa Rica for a minimum of 4 months each year is required.
12. If you're an investor, you will be required to invest at least US $ 50,000 with an approved organization in a field such as tourism or export businesses.
13. You will be required to invest US $ 100,000 in a reforestation project.
14. In other types of business, an amount of US $ 200,000 invested will be required.
15. As an investor, you should spend at least six months per year in Costa Rica.
Foreign Relatives of a Costa Rican Citizen:
12. If you have first-degree family members such as parents, siblings, spouses, or children who are citizens of Costa Rica, you can apply for permanent residency.
13. If you're married to a Costa Rican citizen, the Marriage Certificate should be issued by the Civil Registry (Registro Civil) in Costa Rica. In case of children or siblings born in Costa Rica, Birth Certificates should also be issued by the Civil Registry in Costa Rica.
14. You should submit a photocopy of the ID (cédula de identidad) of the Costa Rican citizen who is related to you.
12. If you're a student looking to obtain a Student Visa, you should provide: (a) proof of enrollment in an educational private or public center recognized by Costa Rica, (b) relevant academic diplomas authenticated by the Consulate, and ( c) proof of sufficient economic resources for the duration of the educational program.
Temporary Workers (Work Visa):
12. The following individuals might obtain a temporary work permit in Costa Rica: (a) scientists, professionals, teachers, technicians, and specialized staff hired by companies or institutions based in Costa Rica and (b) businessmen and board members of national and international companies.
13. The employing company or institution should provide a document describing the: (a) functions to be undertaken by the employee, (b) length of the contract, (c) salary or wages to be received, and (d) why they need to employ that particular individual (justification of employment).
14. The Police Certificate mentioned above should be issued by the state / place where you have resided for the last five years.
All the residency status will require, upon approval, US $ 300 per person as a return trip guarantee deposit as well as US $ 150 per person for the issuance of an ID card.
Moving to Costa Rica may seem like a paperwork nightmare. These classifications and the associated process for each are more for the "do it yourself" kind of person; however, it can be very easy and simple with the help of a lawyer who specializes in this process. All the steps involved are very procedural, and all you have to do is take them one step at a time.