Decades of experience – answers you can trust.

You have questions; we have answers! View our FAQs below, or contact us for more information.

ABOUT OUR COMPANY

What does Residency in Costa Rica do?

We guide you from beginning to end: We help you select the best residency choice. Then we work with you to gather all needed documents, have them translated and authenticated. We prepare your residency application and file it on your behalf, ensuring all fees are paid. We have offices in Los Angeles, CA and in San Jose, Costa Rica. We represent you during the entire application process, keeping everything as simple, stress-free and efficient as possible. Find out more.

How much are your fees?

Our fees vary depending on your unique circumstances, but they are reasonable and competitive. The best way to get an accurate quote is to contact us.

Why should I use Residency in Costa Rica to help me with the application process?

Residency in Costa Rica has established a track record [link to about us] of experience, knowledge, and contacts to properly and professionally managing your application from beginning to resolution. We have offices in Los Angeles, CA and in San Jose, Costa Rica. We know and understand the intricacies of the application process, the types of supporting documentation required by law, and we will answer on your behalf any concerns on the part of the Consular and Immigration (Migración) officials reviewing your application.

Our ability to assist with the collection and authentication of your documents has proven to be an important asset to our clients, and it is one of the fundamental functions we provide. You, in return, get peace of mind and the knowledge that your documents are being processed according to current Immigration (Departamento de Migración) requirements and standards.

As part of our service, we coordinate the translation of all supporting documentation into Spanish by a certified translator, and make sure the translations are accurate and acceptable to the Costa Rican authorities. All applications are reviewed and vetted by a Costa Rican-licensed attorney.

In Costa Rica, we coordinate and accompany you through the fingerprinting process and we guide you through your Embassy’s consular registration process.

While your application package is awaiting review in San José, a Residency in Costa Rica representative will act as your official representative to “bird dog” and monitor the application until its final disposition by the Costa Rican authorities. We attend all hearings and communicate with Immigration (Departamento de Migración) on your behalf.

We can help with your application. We keep the application process simple.

ABOUT COSTA RICAN IMMIGRATION LAWS

When did the current Costa Rican Immigration Law go into effect?

The current Immigration Law, formally known as “Ley 8487 – La Ley General de Migración y Extranjería,” was approved on August 2009, and went into effect six months later, on March 1, 2010.

When did the Reglamento to the Ley de Migracion go into effect?

The 2012 Reglamento became effective on May 17, 2012, the date of its publication in La Gaceta, the official newspaper for the government of Costa Rica.

What key changes were made to the residency programs under the 2010 Law and 2012 Reglamento?

The most significant changes to the residency programs are:

Retiree (Pensionado) – Income:
The monthly pension income requirement was set at $1,000 USD.
One pension allows both husband and wife to apply for residency

Legal Resident (Rentista) – Income:
The Legal Resident (Rentista) monthly income requirement was set at $2,500 USD for 24 months. The exact same amount of $2,500 USD applies to all applicants, whether or not the applicant is single, or married, or married with children.

Business/Investor (Inversionista) – Investment Amount
The investment made must have a registered or verifiable value of at least $200,000 USD (Two Hundred Thousand U.S. dollars). Applicants can also use the registered value of their primary residence in Costa Rica, to qualify as an investor.

Mandatory Membership in “La Caja”
All applicants are required to become members of Costa Rica’s medical system, La Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, known as “La Caja.” The applicant must show proof of membership in La Caja at the time the residency identification card is issued.

Applications for Marriage/Relation (Vinculo) Status by Spouses
Non-Costa Rican spouses are granted temporary residencies for the first three years. Both spouses must attend an interview at Immigration (Migracíon) to verify the marriage is legit.

Consular Registration
All prospective residents must register their intention of moving to Costa Rica with the embassies of their countries of origin in San José. The consular registration is waived if the country of origin does not diplomatic representation in Costa Rica

Higher immigration (Migracíon) Fees
The new law codifies the increase of the fees charged by Immigration (Migracíon) for the filing and review of applications, for a change in status from temporary to permanent residency, and for many other services.

Expanded List of Felonies that automatically disqualify a residency application:
The list of criminal convictions for crimes that automatically disqualify a person from applying for Costa Rican residency, regardless of how old the conviction is, now includes the following major crimes (felony convictions – partial list): Murder; trafficking in illegal drugs/narcotics; trafficking in human beings; trafficking in weapons or explosives; sexual crimes against minors, the elderly or the disabled; domestic violence; membership in certain designated gangs or in organized crime; etc.

Any felony conviction that is less than ten (10) years old will be used by Immigration (Migracíon) to automatically disqualify the applicant and deny the residency application.

Why is the Reglamento important?

Because it contains the rules, regulations and interpretations of the Ley de Migracíon. It spells out the guidelines used by Immigration (Migracíon) to apply and enforce the Ley de Migracíon.

ABOUT THE APPLICATION PROCESS

Who can apply for residency in Costa Rica?

Anyone who plans to spend at least one (1) day a year in Costa Rica may apply. The requirements vary depending on which type of residency you chose. Approval is subject to the discretion of Immigration. Certain criteria can disqualify applications, including criminal convictions. If you have concerns, contact us to discuss your particular circumstances.

I am part of a same gender marriage or legally recognized union/domestic partnership; can my partner and I apply for residency as a married couple?

No. At this time Costa Rica does not recognize same gender marriages, unions or domestic partnerships for the purpose of applying for legal residency, even when legally married or the relationship is recognized in the country of origin. Each member of the same gender relationship must apply for residency independently from the other partner, and each partner must meet the income and other requirements on his/her own.

Am I required to have an attorney in Costa Rica to process my application?

No. You are not required to have an attorney in Costa Rica to process your application. However, you should have an official representative – commonly known as an “apoderado”– to act on your behalf, as your representative with the Departmento de Migración y Extranjería (Migración, for short). We, at Residency in Costa Rica, act as your apoderado as part of our services.

Do I need to travel to Costa Rica to file my application for residency?

No and Yes. Let us explain. All applications under the Pensionado, Rentista and Inversionista programs can now be filed directly in Costa Rica, in your country of origin, or at a designated Costa Rican consulate if none is available in your country. However, it is mandatory that all adults and children age 12 and older must be fingerprinted by Immigration (Migración) in Costa Rica. Clearly you must be physically present in Costa Rica to be fingerprinted.

Is it true that I have to be fingerprinted in Costa Rica?

Yes. All applicants over the age of 12 must be fingerprinted in Costa Rica by the Costa Rican police. The Costa Rican police will then run the fingerprints through INTERPOL and it will send the results of the search directly to Immigration (Migración).

Can I still invest only $50,000 in a tourist-type activity to allow me to apply as an inversionista?

No. That program is no longer being offered by Immigration (Migración). Under current guidelines, the minimum amount of the investment is either $200,000 USD for any business activity or $100,000 USD in a qualified Forestry Program.

Once I am approved as a Pensionado or Rentista resident, can I legally work in Costa Rica?

No. Retiree (Pensionado) or Legal Resident (Rentista) residencies do not grant a work permit. Both residencies are temporary and the assumption is that you do not need to work to make a living.

However, you have the right to manage your own business and financial affairs.
You cannot be an employee of another person or company or receive wages or a salary.

ABOUT DOCUMENTS

What is the expiration date for my birth certificate and police letter?

Your key documents, birth certificate, marriage certificate, police letter and income letter are valid for only six (6) months from the date the document is issued. For example, if the police letter was issued on March 1, 2016 the letter would be valid only until September 1, 2016. That means that there is only a six month window to have the document issued, authenticated and filed with Immigration (Mígracíon).

Does that mean if my application is not approved within six month that I will need to get new copies of my key documents?

No. Once a document is timely filed as part of the application it does not expire.

I have my original birth certificate issued in 1940 (for example). Can I have that birth certificate authenticated and used for my application?

No. The birth certificate is older than six months and Immigration (Migración) will reject it based on the issued date. Additionally, many state governments (if in the U.S.) will not authenticate a document if the document is older than five years, or if the document was issued on non-tamper-proof paper.

Can I have my fingerprints taken in my own country and then take the fingerprinted cards to Costa Rica?

No. Immigration (Migración) will only accept fingerprints taken in Costa Rica by the Costa Rican police.

Is it true that applicants must have a clean police record to qualify for residency?

Yes, it is true. Any felony conviction that is less than ten (10) years old will be used by Immigration (Migración) to automatically disqualify the applicant and deny the residency application.

Additionally, the list of criminal convictions for crimes that automatically disqualify a person from applying for Costa Rican residency, regardless of how old the conviction is, now includes the following major crimes (felony convictions – partial list): Murder; trafficking in illegal drugs/narcotics; trafficking in human beings; trafficking in weapons or explosives; sexual crimes against minors, the elderly or the disabled; domestic violence; membership in certain designated gangs or in organized crime; etc.

WHAT DO THESE WORDS MEAN?

What is an “apoderado”?

An apoderado is a person whom you grant a limited power of attorney to act on your behalf and to represent you for the sole purpose of processing your application for residency.

What is a “cedula,” a “carnet and a “DIMEX card”?

The words cedula, carnet and DIMEX card are interchangeable and are used to refer to the same document: your legal resident identification card. Carnet tends to indicate the older version of the resident ID card, which until around 2007 was a little paper booklet. A cédula or DIMEX card is the newer version of the carnet and it contains digital information and look likes a credit card. DIMEX means “Documento de Identidad Migratoria para Extranjeros.”

What is an “Apostille”?

An “apostille” is a form of authentication issued to documents for use in countries that participate in the Hague Convention of 1961. All documents issued outside of Costa Rica must be authenticated either by an apostille or by a “legalization.” Residency in Costa Rica provides this service for documents issued in the United States. Visit the US State Department website to learn more about Apostille.