How important is getting your Residency in Costa Rica?

We’ll delve into the various aspects of Costa Rican residency, exploring programs, requirements, and the unique charm that makes this Central American haven an ideal home for you to live like an authentic Costa Rican citizen.

Types of Residency Programs

First, you need to know that in Costa Rica, there are two main categories of residency.

  • Permanent residence: This is an immigration status that allows the person obtaining it to stay in the country indefinitely and work freely.
  • Temporary residence: It is authorization to stay in Costa Rica temporarily, usually in connection with a professional work situation.

Application of Costa Rica Residence

Apply at the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería or an approved location in Costa Rica, and Register your fingerprints with the Ministry of Public Security in San Jose.

For this first step, looking for a lawyer specializing in migrations is always better since you can apply online through this lawyer. The online services for applying for a Costa Rica residence are good, but they still need to be more friendly on their digital platforms. This is a situation that the locals are already familiar with and can save you a lot of trouble.

When you visit your chosen lawyers, they can decide which type of residency suits your specific situation, whether you have dependent family members to bring to Costa Rica, or whether you qualify for tax and import benefits. Below is a list of the types of residencies available to you.

Who can apply for permanent residency in Costa Rica?

Also, foreigners can apply for this type of residency if their spouse or first-degree relatives are Costa Ricans or have had a temporary residency for three consecutive years.

The requirements for permanent residency depend on why the expat is applying for residency, i.e., whether the application is based on the degree of consanguinity or whether the expat has had temporary residency.

Anyone granted this status by the Restricted Visas and Refugee Commission by the government of Costa Rica.

First, Temporary Residence Permit in Costa Rica

First, during the residency process, it is widespread to start with a temporary resident permit and then apply as a permanent resident.

  • Residency as a person belonging to religious institutions: persons belonging to a religious congregation established in the country and whose religion is recognized by the Ministry of Foreign Relations and Worship.
  • Residency as a corporate executive, representative, manager, or technical staff member: Foreign workers employed by companies duly registered with the Costa Rican authorities, their spouses, and children are allowed to apply.
  • Residency as a self-employed skilled worker: independent workers duly accredited to practice a profession recognized by the Immigration Office.
  • Residency as an employee: (To work in Costa Rica) Those having a temporary work contract with a company recognized by the Costa Rican authorities for their work permit. It is also essential to know that you will be added to the Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social, Costa Rica’s social security with free attention and the best in Latin America.
  • Residency as an investor: persons investing over USD 150,000.00 in the country.
  • Residency as a scientist, professional, assistant, or specialized technician: workers duly accredited to perform a skilled job.
  • Residency as a sportsperson: anyone duly accredited by the National Sports and Recreation Council.
  • Residency as a news agency correspondent or staff member: workers that can prove that they work under one of these categories.
  • Residency as a rentier: This rentista residency option is for those enjoying a monthly, permanent, and stable income generated abroad in a minimum amount of USD 2,500.00.
  • Residency as a retiree: those enjoying a monthly, permanent, and stable income generated abroad in a minimum amount of USD 1,000.00.

Residency Documents: Meet the requirements

The documents that are detailed as follows shall be filed before the immigration department and are explained in general terms, which could vary depending on the category,

  • The affiliation form is duly filled out when the applicant applies for residency.
  • Foreing’s birth certificate with parents’ names. The Secretary of State must certify the document.
  • Authenticated criminal record showing that the person has not been convicted in their country of origin or in the country where they have lived in the past three years.
  • Photocopy of all passport pages.
  • Proof of fingerprint registration issued by the Public Security Ministry.
  • Joining the Costa Rica Social Security System. (Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social)
  • Evidence of registration with the Consular Registry of your home country embassy in Costa Rica.
  • Six passport-size photos.
  • Marriage Certificate.
  • A $250 deposit favors the Immigration Office in their Costa Rican Bank Account.

All documents must be legalized, and if from a country included in the Apostille convention, they can be legalized through an Apostille stamp.

Estimated time to obtain Residency in Costa Rica

Once the residency application has been submitted, the immigration authorities will provide the interested person with a “hoja trámite” document, which certifies that the application is being processed. As a result, the applicant does not have to leave the country even if the visa has expired, but if driving is essential, you must leave the country to get a new stamp in your passport because your license is only valid for 90 days.

After completing all the requisites within 180 days of your application submission and being approved for examination by the authorities, the applicant will get the residence permit and the respective ID DIMEX.

The estimated time required to obtain residency ranges from 8 to 12 months, provided the application was complete at the time of filing.

Renewing Your DIMEX: Legal Resident ID

It is important to remember that you become a legal resident of Costa Rica with a time limit. So, you’ll need to renew your legal status.

Permanent residency must be renewed every five years.

The Costa Rican government brings you the DIMEX (Identification Document for Foreigners), issued to those who have obtained their residence permit. It must be renewed within 30 days of its expiration date, or a fine of $3 per month will be imposed. We have an article with more information on how to renew this document: Renewal

Your Costa Rican Residency Adventure Awaits

With the correct information, preparation, and the support of our legal firm, your Costa Rican residency dream can become a reality. Start your journey today and unlock the doors to this Central American haven.

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