How Long to Get Residency in Costa Rica

If you’ve ever dreamed of living in a tropical paradise, you might have considered moving to Costa Rica. Known for its stunning landscapes, biodiversity, and friendly locals, this Central American country has become a popular destination for expats from around the world. But one of the key questions that often arises is, “How long does it take to get residency in Costa Rica?”

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the process of obtaining residency, exploring the different types of residency available, the application process, and the estimated timeframes. Whether you’re considering a temporary stay or looking to make Costa Rica your permanent home, this article will provide the information you need to navigate the residency process.

Introduction to Costa Rica Residency

Costa Rica, a country known for its stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and vibrant culture, has become a popular destination for expatriates from around the world. Its stable political environment, high standard of living, and welcoming attitude toward foreigners make it an attractive place to settle down.

One of the main reasons people choose to get residency in Costa Rica is the country’s relaxed lifestyle. The “Pura Vida” or “Pure Life” philosophy is deeply ingrained in the culture, promoting a laid-back and stress-free approach to life. Additionally, Costa Rica’s affordable cost of living, excellent healthcare system, and the opportunity to live in close proximity to nature are major draws for those seeking to relocate. More information about living in Costa Rica can be found on Costa Rica’s official immigration website.

Types of Residency in Costa Rica

Several types of residency are available in Costa Rica, each with its own requirements and benefits.

  • Temporary Residency: This is typically granted to individuals with a guaranteed income source outside Costa Rica, such as retirees or people who own a business in their home country. Temporary residents are required to live in Costa Rica for at least four months each year.
  • Permanent Residency: After three years of holding temporary residency, individuals can apply for permanent residency. Permanent residents have the right to work in Costa Rica and are required to live in the country for at least six months each year.
  • Other types of residency: include residency through marriage to a Costa Rican citizen, residency as a refugee, and residency through investment in the country. The U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica provides more detailed information about these options.

The Process of Getting Residency in Costa Rica

To apply for residency in Costa Rica, there are several eligibility criteria that must be met. These include proving financial stability, having a clean criminal record, and meeting the specific requirements for the type of residency you are applying for.

The required documents for the application process typically include a birth certificate, a police report from your home country, proof of income, and a completed application form. All documents must be translated into Spanish and authenticated.

The application process involves submitting your application and required documents to the Costa Rican Department of Immigration. Once your application is submitted, it can take six months to two years to be processed. During this time, you are allowed to stay in Costa Rica, but you are not permitted to work. It’s important to note that the process can be complex and time-consuming, so it’s often recommended to hire a lawyer or immigration specialist to assist with the process.

Timeframe for Getting Residency in Costa Rica

The timeframe for obtaining residency can vary greatly depending on the type of residency and individual circumstances.

  • Temporary Residency: The process for obtaining temporary residency typically takes between six months to a year. This includes the time it takes to gather all necessary documents, submit the application, and wait for the application to be processed.
  • Permanent Residency: After holding temporary residency for three years, you can apply for permanent residency. The process for obtaining permanent residency is similar to that of temporary residency and can also take between six months to a year.

It’s important to note that these timeframes are estimates, and the actual time it may take can be shorter or longer. Patience is key when navigating the Costa Rican immigration system.


Navigating the process of obtaining residency in a foreign country can often seem daunting. However, with the right information and resources, it becomes a much more manageable task. Understanding “how long it takes to get residency in Costa Rica” is a crucial part of this process.

While the timeframes can vary, it’s clear that the benefits of living in Costa Rica often outweigh the wait. From the vibrant culture to the stunning natural beauty, Costa Rica offers a unique and rewarding experience for those willing to embark on the journey.

Remember, patience is key in this process. With time, you’ll find yourself enjoying the “Pura Vida” lifestyle that Costa Rica is famous for. Whether you’re planning to retire, start a new business, or simply looking for a change of scenery, Costa Rica could be your perfect destination.

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

[email protected]

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you stay longer than 90 days in Costa Rica?

You are technically overstaying your tourist visa if you stay longer than 90 days without obtaining the appropriate visa or residency status. This can result in fines when you leave the country, and you may also face difficulties when trying to re-enter Costa Rica in the future. It’s always best to adhere to the terms of your visa to avoid any legal complications.

How long can I stay in Costa Rica if I own property?

Owning property in Costa Rica does not automatically grant you the right to stay in the country for an extended period. As a tourist, you can generally stay for up to 90 days. If you wish to stay longer, you would need to apply for a suitable visa or residency status.

How long can a non-citizen live in Costa Rica?

A non-citizen can live in Costa Rica indefinitely if they have obtained the appropriate residency status. Temporary residency usually requires the individual to live in Costa Rica for at least four months of the year, while permanent residency requires at least six months.

Can you get residency in Costa Rica by buying property?

Buying property in Costa Rica does not automatically grant you residency. However, it can contribute towards an investment residency, where you invest a certain amount of money in the country. The exact amount required can vary, so it’s best to check the current requirements with the Costa Rican immigration authorities or a legal professional.

How long does it take to become a resident in Costa Rica?

As mentioned above, the process can take anywhere from six months to a year, sometimes longer, depending on the type of residency and individual circumstances.

How hard is it to get residency in Costa Rica?

While the process can be time-consuming and requires a fair amount of paperwork, it is generally not considered overly difficult, especially with the help of a lawyer or immigration specialist.

How do I get residency status in Costa Rica?

Residency status is obtained by submitting an application and the required documents to the Costa Rican Department of Immigration. More detailed information is available on the International Organization for Migration – Costa Rica website.

Does buying property in Costa Rica give you residency?

Buying property in Costa Rica does not automatically grant you residency. However, it can be used as part of an investment to qualify for certain types of residency.


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1 Comment
  • Patricia Ibe
    Posted March 4, 2021 8:05 pm 0Likes

    Good evening! I have got a question: My friend (she is from Austria) called the migration office and asked for an appointment, which will be in January next year. There are different information around: Does she have to extend the visa during this time or can she just stay in the country with the confirmation of the migration office? It would be great if you could help us with this issue.

    Thank you very much!
    Kind regards,

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