Categories and Requirements for Temporary Residency in Costa Rica

In this article, we’ll delve into the intricacies of the Costa Rican immigration residency system, shedding light on the application process, embassy considerations, and the role of AG Legal – Immigration Lawyers in ensuring a smooth transition.

1. What is the application process for temporary residency in Costa Rica?

The application process involves several steps, from gathering the necessary documents to understanding the residency requirements. The Costa Rican government has streamlined the process to attract foreign individuals, making it accessible and feasible.

The Costa Rican Immigration entity will grant authorization of entry and stay for a defined period, longer than 90 days and up to two years, extendable for the same period, to those included in the following subcategories.

Categories of Temporary Residency in Costa Rica:

In Costa Rica, there are categories for temporary residence associated with the integrity of the condition in which they will reside in the country; therefore, they are listed as follows:

  1. Scientific, Professional, Intern and Dependents
  2. Correspondent and News Agency Persons and their Dependents
  3. Athletes and their Dependents
  4. Executive, Representative, Manager, Managerial, Technical Person and their Dependents
  5. Self-Employed Specialized Employees and their Dependents
  6. Specialized Employee in Dependency Relationships and their Dependents
  7. Investor and Dependents
  8. Pensioners and Dependents
  9. Religious and Dependents
  10. Annuitant and Dependents
  11. Specialized Technician and Dependents
  12. Relationship to Costa Rican Spouse

General Requirements for Migratory Categories in Costa Rica:

  1. Application for legal permanence
  2. Proof of payment in favor of the Government for fiscal species.
  3. Two passport-size photographs
  4. Birth certificate issued in the country of origin duly legalized, authenticated, or apostilled.
  5. Certification of criminal record of the foreign person from their country of origin or from the place where they have resided legally for the last three years, duly legalized and authenticated or apostilled.
  • In the case of applications for legal permanence from nationals of Mexico, Brazil, the United States, Canada, or other countries that have criminal systems comprised of a local and federal jurisdiction, certifications must be required that include a criminal record check by name, identification number and fingerprint (when the country so issues), to definitively guarantee that the person does not have a criminal record in the entire territory of their country or where they have resided legally for the last three years.
  1. Photocopy of all pages of the foreigner’s valid passport.
  2. Proof of economic solvency issued by a competent authority.
  3. Proof of consular registration
  4. Payment receipt for the amount of US$50.00, where the name of the foreign person as depositor is indicated. This money must be paid in colones, in account 242480-0 of Banco de Costa Rica.

Important: Suppose the person enters Costa Rica on a tourist visa and wishes to apply for a residency. In that case, they must additionally deposit the amount of US$200.00, in colones, in account 242480-0 of Bank of Costa Rica for the change of category.

Unique requirements for temporary residency in Costa Rica:

The Immigration officer makes a verification of the main requirement of each category; those special requirements are detailed for each specific case; however, as a summary, we can highlight those that fit:

  1. Employment contracts.
  2. Affidavit of the employer who hires them.
  3. Certification of qualifications and experience of the worker.
  4. Certifications of the company and letter of reason for hiring signed by the legal representative.
  5. A statement signed by the employer certifying the worker’s experience, where the specialized functions and knowledge for the position are specified.
  6. Certification of titles and worker experience that accredits them for the position to be performed.
  7. Certification of the National Council of Sports and Recreation or of the public or private entity that holds the national representation of a sport, certifying the foreign athletes that participate in its championships.
  8. Certification of income by Certified Public Accountant and Balance Sheet.

In the case of a spouse and children, in addition to the above requirements, the marriage and birth certificate, duly legalized and authenticated or apostilled, documents from abroad must translated into Spanish. They must be presented to prove the relationship. Their parents must make the application for minor children. The documents abroad must be issued within six months to complete the application.

2. Embassy’s Role in Costa Rican Residency

  • What role does the embassy or consulate play in the residency process?

The embassy in Costa Rica is a fundamental actor in the residency process since it serves as a bridge between the applicants and the Costa Rican government. It provides the consular registration service, which everyone must present as a requirement.

At the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica, our firm is an established provider of trusted lawyers for U.S. citizens.

3. Temporary Residence for pensioners in Costa Rica

The “pensionado” category is an option for foreign nationals receiving a lifetime pension or retirement income of at least USD 1,000 per month. This income can come from a government retirement program, such as US Social Security, or an independent retirement program, such as a workers’ union or a private company’s pension program.

To be eligible to file under this category, the applicant must obtain a letter from their pension provider. The letter should state that the applicant receives a monthly pension of at least USD 1,000 for life. The applicable pension provider must issue the letter. You in this category cannot legally work in Costa Rica, but it can be ingenious.

4. Investing in Costa Rica: Temporary Residency for Investors

  • How does temporary residency for investors work?

You may qualify as an investor in Costa Rica if you or your spouse have invested USD 150,000 in qualifying projects or USD 100,000 in a forestry project.

  • Benefits of temporary residency as an investor

Temporary residency for investors comes with benefits, such as the ability to legally work in Costa Rica and contribute to the local economy. You can become eligible for permanent residency.

  • Apply for temporary residency under the Investor Category, valid for two years.
  • It can be renewed for additional two-year periods, as long as you keep the project you invested in (business, home, etc).
  • After three years of holding temporary residency, you can apply for permanent residence.

5. Do I Have to Leave Every 90 Days Once I Start My Residency?

No, once you file your application for temporary residency, you will receive a “Hoja trámite” from the Immigration Department once you begin the Costa Rica residency process. This allows you to stay in Costa Rica legally while your residency application is being processed without having to leave every 90 days in a temporary resident condition.

Important: If you apply as a worker executive or you come to be part of a company, you can only work or be registered with Costa Rican Social Security once your application has an approved resolution.

If the company you are coming to work for is registered as a recognized company in Migration, the process takes 2 to 3 months; if not, the process takes 5 to 6 months.

6. AG Legal: Your Trusted Partner in the Residency Process

  • Who are AG Legal, and how can they assist you?

We are a consolidated law firm with 23 years of experience serving corporations and foreigners settling in Costa Rica; we focus on follow-up, keeping our clients informed, and never leaving a process abandoned; you will always be a priority.

  • Services to our immigration clients

From document preparation to verification of requirements, it offers various services to simplify the residency process and assist you in an emergency. Their team of experts can help file applications, making the journey toward Costa Rican residency more manageable and less daunting.

7. Renewing Your Residency (DIMEX): What You Need to Know

It is important to remember that your DIMEX needs to be renewed. Those who have received their residency must continue their DIMEX (Identification Document for Foreigners). It must be renewed within 30 days after expiration, or there is a fine of $3 per month. We have an article with more information on this subject:

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.

Contact us: