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Residency Overview

Last Updated: Mar 05, 2012

residency card example
 - Costa Rica

Costa Rican residency grants foreign nationals the legal right to live in Costa Rica. If you plan to permanently relocate to Costa Rica, you should become a legal resident. 

Temporary Residency

Temporary residency allows foreigners the right to live in Costa Rica for a set period of time, usually one to five years. The most common types of temporary residency are Rentista (Annuity Holder), Pensionado (Retiree), and Inversionista (Investor). Foreign spouses of Costa Ricans must apply for temporary residency.

Temporary residents are permitted to live in Costa Rica, own a business, and collect income from a business; they may not work in their own business or as an employee. As a temporary resident, you are subject to certain annual residency requirements, and may have to exchange a required amount of dollars each month. 

Pensionado

Rentista

Inversionista

Representante

Permanent Resident

Proof of $1000/month income from social security or retirement fund  Proof of income of $2500/month for 5 years or deposit of $150,000 in approved Costa Rican bank $200,000 invested in business or real estate or lesser amount in approved industry Must be a director of an approved company First-degree relationship with Costa Rican, or may apply after 3 years as temporary resident
Must live in Costa Rica at least 4 months per year Must live in Costa Rica at least 4 months per year Must live in Costa Rica at least 6 months per year Must live in Costa Rica at least 6 months per year Must visit Costa Rica at least once every year
Can claim dependents under 18 & spouse Can claim dependents under 18 & spouse Cannot claim dependents or spouse Cannot claim dependents or spouse Cannot claim dependents or spouse
May not work as an employee May not work as an employee May collect income from business or approved project May collect income from the company May work & collect income
Can own a company & collect income Can own a company & collect income Can own a company & collect income Can own a company & collect income Can own a company & collect income

Permanent Residency

There are two ways to obtain permanent residency: through first-degree relation to a Costa Rican or by holding temporary residency for a period of three years. Permanent residency must be renewed every year, but does not expire. Permanent residents may legally work in Costa Rica.

A first-degree relationship includes parents and children (under age 25) of Costa Rican citizens, minor siblings of Costa Rican citizens, and parents or siblings of disabled Costa Rican citizens. Immigration no longer considers marriage a first-degree relationship status; spouses of Costa Rican citizens must file for temporary residency.

If you have held temporary residency – Rentista, Pensionado, Inversionista, or Spousal – for more than three years, you are eligible to change your status to permanent resident. This request will be subject to a $200 fee. 

Citizenship

Some residents choose to cement their link to Costa Rica by applying for citizenship through naturalization. You are eligible for naturalization after two years of marriage to a Costa Rican or seven years of legal residency.

Perpetual Tourism

Tourists from the United States, Canada, and many European countries are permitted to enter Costa Rica for up to 90 days without a visa. After 90 days, they are required to exit the country. Tourists who live in Costa Rica and renew their entrance permit every 90 days are often called perpetual tourists. Perpetual tourism is not illegal, but it is not a form of legal residency. Perpetual tourists are not allowed to legally work in Costa Rica.

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