Frequently Asked Questions

Are foreigners allowed to purchase and own property in Costa Rica?

Foreigners have the same property rights as nationals, except for property located in the Maritime Zone, referred to as Concessioned Property.

Can a Foreigner own Beach Front Property?

All beachfront property in Costa Rica is public property. It is possible to purchase fully titled land near the beach or looking over the beach, but if you want to buy on the beach, it will not be titled but concessioned. This means you will be leasing it from the government. Please see below for a further explanation.

Maritime Zoning

The government is the owner of any land on the beach, and you will need to get permission to build. The maritime zone is from the high tide mark inland 200 meters. There is a public zone of 50 meters between the beach and high tide. The restricted zone is a 150-meter wide strip of beach from the limit of the Public Zone inland. The government will grant “the concession,” which is land that is leased from the government. Your lease can be issued from 10-20 years and will need to be renewed.

Do you have to use an Attorney?

You will need to hire an attorney who is also a notary to transfer property tax or shares. I can recommend several who are fluent in English and whom I've worked with over the years.

How much are Closing Costs?

Closing Costs will run between 4-5% of the purchase price unless a mortgage is involved; the fees will be higher.

How Much is an Initial deposit, and how soon must it be in Escrow?

Escrow typically needs to be funded within 10-12 days is negotiable between buyer and seller, but the higher the deposit, the better the buyer has of getting an accepted offer. 10% of the purchase price is the norm.

How are funds for the purchase received in Costa Rica?

Funds for purchase are received via a wire transfer which your escrow agent will share with you this information.

What are the Operating Expenses of Owning a Property in Costa Rica?

Water; Electric; Cable, Internet, Property Taxes, Vehicle Taxes, Corporation Taxes (if you own), Income and Sales Tax, and Property management fees.

Can Foreigners own beachfront property?

Costa Rica’s beachfront property is concessioned property, which means it is not privately owned. The government has ruled the beachfront property as the public. You never have 100% ownership rights when purchasing concessioned property because you are “leasing” it from the government, which falls under maritime zone law.

The first 50 meters at high tide and then the next 150 meters of land are considered concessioned. Purchasing concessioned property is possible if you are a foreigner, but you must consult your attorney, so you are advised of your rights. If you do purchase concessioned property, you agree that the government is allowed to seize the concessioned at any time it would like.

Land use rights can range anywhere from 10-20 years. Purchasing beachfront is leasing the property from the government, and when your lease is up, you will need to reapply to continue this lease with the government. It is not 100% guaranteed your contract will be renewed, and all can be lost.

What is the Folio Real Number?

The Folio Real is the number associated with your property, which is in the Public Registry's computer system. This number identifies and distinguishes it from other properties in Costa Rica. There are three parts to each registered property. The first number indicates the province where the property is located; the second group of six numbers is the property's main number. The third number is how many owners the property has had (i.e., 5-246135-000). If your property does not have a Folio Real number, it is not a clean title.

The Folio Real system is centralized in the offices of the Public Registry (see below). During the due diligence conducted by your lawyer, they will perform a title search that will show all the information on the property, including the area, ownership, boundaries, location, mortgages, and any liens against the property.

What is the Plano Catastro / Survey Plan - Cadastral?

The Cadastral Office holds the property surveys in Costa Rica. These Plano's can also be found at the Registro Nacional (Public Registery) and at the municipality where the property is located. The Plano Catastro is also known as the survey plan, is the recorded / titled property. The Plano is a detailed survey of the property boundaries, Folio Real number, size, ownership, and the date it was registered.

Can I Check on my Property in the National Registry?

At any time you would like to check your property, you can access the National Registry The Public Registry of Properties is the Costa Rican government, which compiles all the property deeds and protects the rights of the legal property owners.

When you go to the Registro Nacional, you can right-click on your mouse and translate it to English.

  • Select Sistema de Certificaciones y Consultas Gratuitas (does not translate) – Left side, middle of the page.
  • First-time users will need to Register -Registrase por Primera Vez-, on the left side of the page. Follow the link and create your user email/password on the left side under Ingreso para Usuarios Registrados. Once you have completed the registration, you will receive an email.
  • Select Consultas Gratuitas
  • There will be a list of Consultas for Beienes Immuebles (Real Estate).
  • Select Consulta for Numera de Finca to obtain a certified property. You will need to enter the number of the Province Provincia, which is the first number of the Folio Real number on the Plano catastro, the folio number of the property, middle numbers of the Folio Real number on the plan) and the number of the property right “derecho” which is the last 3 digits of the Folio Real Number.
  • Click Consultar consult, and the certificate with the property information will be located.
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