Let’s be Clear

Jobs in Costa Rica for expats are not abundant. It can be difficult to find legal work as an expat. Expats in Costa Rica cannot obtain work permits for positions that Costa Rican citizens or permanent residents can only fill due to immigration laws. Above all, these laws protect nationals from losing out on work opportunities to non-resident expats.

Are there any exceptions? Yes. An employer may hire a qualified expat if no qualified nationals or permanent residents are found for a highly-skilled position. This fills a gap in the market by allowing the employer to apply for the expat’s work permit. The work permit is usually valid for one year and renewable for the length of the employment.

From time to time, the Ministry of Labor (Ministerio de Trabajo – MTSS) provides a list of professional and skilled labor job openings to the immigration department for them to update their qualifications for work permits.

Alternatives to Jobs in Costa Rica for Expats

Expats will have difficulty finding a job in Costa Rica unless they first secure legal status with no work limitations. Permanent residency, temporary residency, as the spouse of a Costa Rican citizen, and citizenship are all examples of this.

However, suppose you choose to get residency in Costa Rica as a Rentista, Investor, or Pensionado (retiree). In that case, you can own a business and earn an income from its profits, but you cannot work as an employee in your own business. Your activity in the business is limited to high-level management. You must hire Costa Rican citizens or residents to perform all the work without restrictions.

Salaries in Costa Rica

Costa Rican wages are a fraction of what they are in North America or Europe. The pay is about a quarter of what you’d get in Canada or the United States and up to about half if you’re from Europe. The Ministry of Labor lists minimum wages for various job types based on qualifications.

Can I Legally Work Remotely as a Non-Resident?

Many people work remotely from Costa Rica for employers or companies outside the country. There is a new category for digital nomads (perfect for those who work on computers and make money outside of Costa Rica).

If you are a non-resident expat, regardless of how you live in Costa Rica, we strongly advise you to apply for and obtain legal residency.


-Written by Glenn Tellier (Founder of CRIE and Grupo Gap).

[email protected]

Fill out the form below to determine your residency category. Or click here!

  • First Step
  • Final Step

Select all options that apply to you

Pensionado (Pension/Disability) Category

Rentista (Fixed Income) Category

Inversionista (Investor) Category

Family ties with a Costa Rican Resident/Citizen Category

My residency company let me down

I am not sure.

Personal Information

Looking for a Loan? – Click HERE.
Looking for Real Estate? – Click HERE.
Looking for Profitable Investments? – Click HERE.


  • Marc St-Louis & Carrie Davis
    Posted November 21, 2021 7:12 pm 0Likes

    Good evening,
    My wife and I are looking to move from Canada to Costa Rica. We would be filing as expats, (both ex-military), we worked in communications, weather, and renewable energy systems. Please provide the necessary information we require to start the process.
    Thank you in advance
    Marc St-Louis

  • Umed Singh
    Posted June 23, 2022 12:28 am 0Likes

    I am looking to move from India to CR. I am working in merchant Navy and sailing on merchant vessel since 2009. My salary is plus 5000USD. Before 2009( I worked with Indian Coast Guard, and pension from that job, my monthly pension is round 450 USD)
    Please provide me the details how to go about to get Permanent esidency in CR.

Add Your Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.