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Residency in Costa Rica

Residency in Costa Rica

Moving to Costa Rica is not complicated, as the country has many treaties in place that enable foreigners to enter Costa Rica without a visa as long as their stay here is short. Those who want to relocate here for longer time frames have the chance to apply for temporary and then permanent residency. If you are interested in Costa Rica permanent residency and need assistance in obtaining the document attesting to your new status, you can rely on us. Our Costa Rica residency lawyer is at your service and can help you apply for temporary or permanent residence permits.

 Quick Facts  
Entry visa requirement (YES/NO)

For certain nationalities

Types of visas for permanent residency

– temporary residence cards,

– investor visas

Permanent residence through temporary relocation requirements


Temporary residence permit validity

 2 years

Direct permanent residency possibility (YES/NO)

No, minimum living requirements must be met

Living requirements to obtain permanent residency

 5 years

Permanent residency by investment option (YES/NO)

Yes, permanent residence can be obtained after minimum 3 years

Timeframe to obtain permanent residence (approx.)

Approx. 3 months

Relocation with family members possibility (YES/NO)

No, each family member must obtain a residence permit

Possibility to sponsor family members for immigration (YES/NO)

Yes, after gaining the status of a permanent resident

Citizenship requirements through permanent residency

7 years of living in Costa Rica

Advantages of obtaining a permanent residence

– possibility to buy a property,

– possibility to retire here,

– low investment amount for the investor visa

Support in obtaining permanent residency (YES/NO)


Other immigration services

Support in renewing temporary residence card, assistance in applying for citizenship

Permanent residency by employment availability (YES/NO)

 Yes, however, it is seldom used due to strict requirements

The Costa Rica residency visa, general aspects to consider

When discussing residency in Costa Rica, there are two types of permits one can obtain:

  • a temporary residence card;
  • a permanent residence card.

Each comes with its own requirements and grants various rights. By far, Costa Rican permanent residency is sought by most foreign citizens.

If you want to apply for Costa Rica temporary residency first, our specialists can help you. We are also at your disposal if you want to start a business in Costa Rica. Running a company here has many advantages. Our immigration lawyers in Costa Rica can explain them to you.

Who can apply for Costa Rica temporary residency in 2024?

A Costa Rica residency visa for temporary stay can be obtained by the vast majority of people seeking to relocate here. Among these:

  • students;
  • workers;
  • spouses;
  • businesspersons;
  • retirees;
  • investors.

The best part about immigration to Costa Rica by applying for this type of residence permit is that it comes with specific requirements for each candidate, thus giving the immigration procedure a personalized touch. This way, each applicant will know what to prepare and benefit from a simple relocation procedure. However, our Costa Rica residency lawyer can help one prepare the necessary documents in accordance with the category the respective person enters. Applications for temporary residence permits must be filed with the Immigration Department.

Our immigration lawyers in Costa Rica can also provide you with detailed information on the Costa Rica permanent residency requirements in 2024. If you want to obtain residency in other countries, such as UAE, we can put you in touch with our partner lawyers. Temporary residency in Dubai can be obtained in three days after you submit the required documents.

Obtaining Costa Rican temporary residency based on specific types of income

One of the most appealing reasons to immigrate to Costa Rica is that based on your income (which does not need to be very high) you can obtain temporary residency fast and simply. There are several categories of people who can relocate here based on retirement or as legal residents by independent means.

Here are the minimum income requirements that need to be met by those seeking to obtain a Costa Rica residency visa for temporary stays:

  1. a retired person must submit proof of having a minimum monthly income of 1,000 USD;
  2. the same amount of 1,000 USD is required for married couples retiring here;
  3. for those moving here based on sufficient means of self-sustenance, the minimum amount required is 2,500 USD per month for a minimum period of 2 years;
  4. this last category is required to make a deposit of 60,000 USD in a Costa Rican bank from where they will obtain a commitment letter.

There are also a few differences between these two types of Costa Rican temporary residence permits. In the first case, retired people are not required to live in Costa Rica (they only need to be in the country for one day a year. In the second case, the person must live in the country for at least 4 months in a calendar year. Here is also an infographic on this topic:

The validity of a residence permit is 3 years. Following that, applicants become eligible for permanent residency.

What should be noted about these two options is that people who have obtained 2024 Costa Rican residency visas are not allowed to work here. They can do that only after they have become permanent residents.

You can rely on our Costa Rica residency lawyer for support in applying for a work permit.

How can foreign workers obtain residency in Costa Rica?

Foreign employees who relocate to Costa Rica based on temporary residence permits must enter one of the following categories:

  • specialized independent workers
  • specialists, employees, or interns
  • specialists in the field they are hired in
  • sportsmen;
  • journalists and correspondents;
  • religious workers.

You need to submit the following paperwork when applying for a work visa in Costa Rica:

  • a covering letter stating the reason of relocation;
  • personal information;
  • location and date of entry into Costa Rica;
  • the address in Costa Rica;
  • two recent photos;
  • evidence that you have paid the fee for a work visa;
  • a marriage license (if applicable);
  • an income verification or proof of sufficient funds;
  • police records indicating you have committed no offense.

Additionally, the employer must inform the Immigration Department about hiring foreign workers. In this case, the Costa Rican company must provide information like:

  • a statement indicating the salary, employment history, and job description;
  • Its registration papers and legal structure;
  • a copy of the employment contract;
  • evidence of having paid the worker insurance (Statement of Insurance Company).

It is also important to note that before applying for residency in Costa Rica in 2024, a provisional visa must be obtained.

Our lawyers in Costa Rica are at the service of foreign citizens who decide to move here and need specialized assistance. It should be noted that obtaining a work permit requires a lot of attention, as the procedure is harder compared to other means of immigration to Costa Rica.

Obtaining Costa Rican residency through marriage

According to the current immigration legislation, foreigners who marry Costa Rican citizens are eligible for temporary residency. You must register your marriage with the Civil Registry before applying for residency in Costa Rica.

For those who are not married but still want to bring their foreign partner to Costa Rica, other requirements apply. For example, they must bring evidence of their relationships, such as pictures, evidence of cohabitation, and proof of communication.

A temporary residency card for the spouse is first issued for one year and is renewable for another year. After 3 years, the foreign spouse can proceed with the application for permanent residency.

The length of the application procedure for temporary residency by marriage to a Costa Rican varies from 12 to 15 months, depending on how quickly the Immigration Department processes the application after receiving it, which takes on average 9 months.

Our residency specialists in Costa Rica can advise on the documents to produce when moving here as a foreign spouse of a Costa Rican national.

Costa Rica permanent residency requirements

The easiest way of obtaining Costa Rica permanent residency in 2024 is based on temporary residence cards. Family reunification can also be a way through which immigration to Costa Rica for obtaining permanent residence cards can be obtained.

In order to qualify for permanent residence in Costa Rica, a person must be a temporary residence card holder for at least 3 years. Following that, the permanent residence visa must be renewed every 5 years by those who do not want to apply for citizenship. In order to acquire Costa Rican passports, foreigners must live here for 7 years.

According to recent data, there are nearly 380,000 permanent residents living in Costa Rica. Here’s also a video on this subject:

There are several types of visas through which foreign citizens can enter Costa Rica, however, not all of them are suitable to obtain a passport. In order to become eligible for citizenship in Costa Rica, one must secure a temporary residence permit followed by a permanent one. Only then, does it become an option to consider becoming a citizen of this country.

Foreign nationals immigrate to Costa Rica for various reasons. However, each situation calls for a different procedure, among which is also providing evidence in accordance with the reason of relocation. You can apply for the appropriate residence visa with the aid of our local specialists.

How hard is it to obtain a work visa for Costa Rica?

The procedure for obtaining a work visa for Costa Rica is more complicated than it can be in other countries. It’s not as easy as it seems, even if the procedure implies finding an employer, getting a work permit, and obtaining a work visa for Costa Rica. In order to ensure equity for local employees, the government has implemented a number of regulations that make it difficult to obtain a work visa in the country. This is why obtaining residency by other means is recommended.

Furthermore, temporary residency permits granted by Costa Rica to foreign nationals wishing to remain in the nation for a period longer than 3 months do not automatically grant the holder the right to work. Only residents of Costa Rica who are nationals or have permanent residency are allowed to take up employment in this country.

The average processing time for a work permit in Costa Rica is 3 to 8 months, however, it sometimes takes longer.

What to consider before moving to Costa Rica in 2024

Families, retirees, and those pursuing education will all enjoy a high standard of living in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is actually one of the happiest nations in the world, according to the International Economic Forum. The country’s beaches, rainforests, and educated populace are cited in the report as contributing factors to its unusually high quality of life. Due to its strong emphasis on environmental sustainability, Costa Rica is also ranked as the world’s happiest nation by the Happy Planet Index. With a score of 62.1, the Index places Costa Rica first out of 152 countries. The country’s wellbeing is rated 7 out of 10 and its life expectancy is just over 80. Its small ecological footprint is also noted by the Happy Planet Index.

All necessary documentation must be obtained before you enter Costa Rica. All papers must be translated into Spanish and notarized. Also, all documents must be legalized and apostilled before submission. Given the lengthy processing times, you should also carefully calculate the date you plan on relocating.

It is also important to find a place to stay before arriving in the country. Foreign citizens who decide to apply for residency by investment enables them to acquire properties here. For other applicants, a rental is also a good option, considering the lower prices compared to neighboring countries.

Moving and applying for residency in Costa Rica is simple because of the interest of the authorities in attracting foreign entrepreneurs and talented people willing to relocate here. Foreign citizens can apply for both temporary and permanent residency, depending on their needs. No matter the choice, if you are planning to relocate here, our immigration experts can help you. For support with all of the aspects above, you can rely on our immigration lawyers in Costa Rica.

If you want to apply for Costa Rica permanent residency and need support, do not hesitate to contact our local specialists. We are also at your disposal with various services, including if you are interested in company formation in Costa Rica.