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Residency Categories


Residency Categories
 

Residency in Costa Rica

We 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 benefits, private pension plans, 401K plans, school district pension, etc. To be a qualified plan, the pension must be payable to the resident applicant “for life.” Many annuities can also qualify as a pension.

If receiving U.S. Social Security or Canadian Government Pensions (including Old Age), the appropriate pension income letter can be easily obtained from the U.S. or Canadian embassies.

Currency Exchange Requirement: Once approved, the resident agrees to exchange the 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 of the exchange.

Please note that 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 apply for residency. The pension recipient can be either spouse.

Additionally, please note that Costa Rica does not recognize same gender marriages or unions even when legally married in the country of origin. Same gender couples must apply for residency independently from the partner and each partner must meet the income and other requirements on his/her own.

In-Country Requirement: Once approved, the resident agrees to live in Costa Rica for at least 121 days (4 months) per year. The days lived in Costa Rica do not have to be consecutive.

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


Legal resident ("Rentista")
This program applies to individuals who are not yet retired but who do not need to work while in Costa Rica, who are receiving guaranteed, unearned income from investments or other sources, and who can prove that the non-earned income is guaranteed to be received for 60 months (5 years).

Income Requirement: The new requirement applies to any type of applicant, be it a single person, a married couple, or a married couple with dependent children.

Regardless of the applicant’s civil status or number of dependents, the primary applicant must show proof of at least US$2,500 monthly income from interest or dividends or from unearned income, and that the $2,500 monthly payment to the applicant is guaranteed for the next 60 months (5 years).

The most common method used to prove the income is by means of a notarized letter from the bank or financial institution indicating the applicant has on deposit at least US $150,000 on a long term account such as a Certificate of Deposit, and that the applicant agrees to transfer to Costa Rica at least US$2,500 per month. The amount on deposit must be at least US$150,000 ($2,500 times 60 months).

Please note that it is not mandatory that the bank account be held in Costa Rica. The account can be held in the U.S., Canada or practically anywhere in the world provided the financial institution is listed in the Thomson’s Bank Directory®.

Currency Exchange Requirement: Once approved, the resident agrees to exchange the 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 121 days (4 months) per year. The days lived in Costa Rica do not have to be consecutive.

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

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

In order to apply, the applicant must prove that the amount already invested (not the current value) equals or exceeds $200,000. If using real estate as the basis for the investment, the property must be registered with the Costa Rican Real Property Tax Assessor with a value of at least $200,000.

Currency Exchange Requirement: None.

In-Country Requirement: Once approved, the resident agrees to live in Costa Rica for at least 183 days (6 months) per year. The days lived in Costa Rica do not have to be consecutive.

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


Married to or Relationship to Costa Rican Citizen - "Vínculo" Program
The non-Costa Rican applicant must prove that he/she is in a relationship in 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), but the program does not include grandparents, uncles or aunts.

• Vínculo by Marriage:
In-Country Requirement: Once approved, the resident agrees to live in Costa Rica for at least 1 day (one day) per year. The marriage must be officially recorded with the Registro Civíl in Costa Rica and the Registro must be able to issue a certified copy of the marriage certificate.

Issue to consider: Early in 2010 Migración issued an internal memorandum announced that the applicant needs to prove that the marriage is not a sham when the couple has been married for less than 2 years on the date the application is filed. The announced did not indicate the method required to prove that the marriage is, indeed, legit.

Type of residency: Temporary if the couple has been married for less than two years. However, the residency is likely to be granted as a permanent residency if the couple has been married longer than 2 years. The temporary resident can apply for permanent residency after being a temporary resident for three (3) years.

Work permit: Undetermined - Pending issuance of Guidelines by Migracíon. Until recently all vínculo applications were granted permanent residencies with a work permit. However, Migración is now issuing temporary residencies when the couple has been married for less than 2 years. It is not clear at this time if those less than two-year old marriages are granted a work permit. There is a presumption that if the couple has been married longer than 2 years that the marriage is not a sham and those residencies would have a work permit.

• Vínculo by having a child born in Costa Rica
Vínculo applications based upon having a child born in Costa Rica, and therefore a Costa Rican citizen, are approved as permanent residents. The parent(s) and siblings (brothers and sisters) of the Costa Rican citizen receive unrestricted residencies with built-in work permits.

Work permit: Yes, built-in as a permanent resident.

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 in order to obtain a work permit requires that the applicant have a bona fide job offer and that the company offering the job must provide a certain amount of documents 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.

Basic Documents Required for All Applications

  • Birth Certificate – The birth certificate cannot be older than 6 months on the day the application is filed. The document must be authenticated.
  • Police Clearance Letter -- not older than 6 months on the day the application is filed -- notarized and authenticated
  • Current Passport
  • Proof of Consular Registration of intention to apply for residency in Costa Rica. Some countries (U.S.A., Canada, UK) allow for registration via Internet, others may require a personal visit to the country of origin’s embassy in San José. Please note that the consular registration is waived if the country of origin does not have a consulate or embassy in Costa Rica
  • Eight recent passport-type photographs
  • If spouse is also applying: a copy of the Marriage Certificate – not older than 6 months on the day the application is filed -- certified and authenticated copy
  • Pensionado and Rentistas: Proof of Income Letter -- notarized and authenticated
  • Inversionistas: Must also show proof of the having made a US$200,000 investment in Costa Rica plus additional documents pertaining to the investment.

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

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

 

Olga Arce Atenas, AL 2051 Phone: 506 83917480 Mobile: 506 83392239 Email Olga