Residency in Costa Rica

First, it is not necessary to obtain residency to purchase property, and most of our clients are non-residents. However, for those looking to make a permanent move to Costa Rica, you will want to start becoming a permanent resident.


Upon entering Costa Rica, you should be granted an automatic 90-day tourist visa. If you want to stay longer than 90 days, it would be necessary to exit the country and re-enter to obtain another 90 days. While there are many “perpetual tourists” in this country that stamp out and back in at the border every 90 days, that can get quite burdensome, so it would be best to apply for temporary residency, for which there are 4 main routes to go.


  1. Business/Investor (Inversionista) For those with a Costa Rican business or real estate investments. This program applies to individuals who make a direct investment in Costa Rica of at least USD 200,000.  The investment can be made in any business or real estate.

    The applicant must prove that the amount already invested (not the current or future value) has a registered or verifiable value of at least USD 200,000. The investment can be made in any business, including manufacturing, transportation, hospitality (hotel, B&B, bar, restaurant, etc.), tourism industry (tours, nature walks, amusement, adventure-type parks, etc.), and commercial non-commercial real estate.
  2. Retiree (Pensonado) For those with a pension or other retirement income. This program applies to any person already retired from their usual occupation and already receiving pension benefits. Must show proof of monthly income from a qualified pension plan of at least USD 1,000 per month. The pension recipient can be either spouse. A married couple needs to show proof of only one (1) monthly pension of at least USD 1,000 for both husband and wife to qualify to apply for residency.
  3. Legal Resident (Rentista) For those with guaranteed non-salary income or savings. This program applies to individuals who (1) are not yet retired, (2) do not need to work while living in Costa Rica, (3) are receiving guaranteed, unearned income of USD 2,500 per month from investments, savings, or other sources, and (4) who can prove that the non-earned income is guaranteed to be received for at least a period of 24 months (2 years). Applicants must prove their ability to receive USD 2,500 per month of unearned income for 24 consecutive months (2 years).

    The most common method used to prove the unearned income is using a notarized letter from a bank or financial institution indicating the applicant has at least USD 60,000 ($2,500 x 24 months) in a long term account such as a CD and that the applicant agrees to withdraw and transfer to Costa Rica $2,500 per month for the next 24 months.

    Other sources of unearned income include income from savings, rental property income, or dividends.  The bank account doesn't need to be held in Costa Rica.  However, obtaining the required bank letter is easier when the account is held in a Costa Rican bank. The same USD 2,500 per month income requirement applies to single or married applicants or applicants with dependent children.
  4. Marriage/Relation (Vinculo) For those married to or related to a Costa Rican citizen.


With all the above, the residency is only temporary, and the resident can apply for permanent residency after being a temporary resident for three (3) years.


Once you complete the residency application and submit the required documents, including a birth certificate, marriage certificate, police report, and more, it takes between 7-15 months before the process is finalized. However, once you have applied, you will not have to leave the country to renew your tourist visa.


Once you are approved for residency, you will be required to obtain a health care card, meaning that you will have to register for the Costa Rican Social Security Medical System (CCSS). The amount you will have to pay monthly will depend on the income amount that you report on the application, and it will be a percentage of that income.