Exploring Costa Rica Immigration and Residency Categories

If you’re considering relocating to Costa Rica, navigating the country’s immigration and residency categories and requirements can seem daunting. However, Costa Rica offers a range of options to cater to different individuals and their specific circumstances. Whether you’re a retiree, investor, entrepreneur, employee, or a family member of a Costa Rican citizen, a residency category may be ideal for you. This article explores the options available, highlighting the essential requirements and benefits.



The List of Residency Categories

Depending on your specific circumstances and eligibility, Costa Rica offers several residency categories. Here are the main residency categories available:

  1. Residency from Disability or Retiree Pension (Pensionados)
  2. Residency from Fixed Income – Rentor (Rentistas)
  3. Residency for Investors (Inversionista)
  4. Residency as Spouse
  5. Residency as a Parent
  6. Residency for Foreign Workers
  7. Residency for Self-employed People or Entrepreneurs
  8. Permanent Residency (Permanente)
  9. Citizenship (Naturalization)
  10. Digital Nomad Visa in Costa Rica



1- Residency from Disability or Retiree Pension (Pensionados)

For retired individuals or receiving disability income, the Residency from Disability or Retiree Pension category offers an opportunity to obtain residency in Costa Rica. To qualify, you must have a monthly retirement income of at least $1,000 USD. This income can originate from a pension provided by your home country’s Social Security or Pension System. To learn more about this residency option, click HERE.

2- Residency from Fixed Income – Rentor (Rentistas)

The Residency from Fixed Income – Rentor category requires individuals to demonstrate a monthly income of at least $2,500. There are multiple ways to prove this income, including depositing an amount equivalent to two years of income ($60,000 USD) in a bank in Costa Rica. Alternatively, you can certify your income from abroad or open a trust. To delve deeper into the requirements and processes of obtaining residency under this category, visit our detailed guide. Click HERE.

2- Residency for Investors (Inversionista)

If you’re interested in investing in Costa Rica, the Residency for Investors category may be the perfect fit. The Costa Rican government has recently lowered the minimum investment amount to $150,000 USD. You can invest in a business or assets such as real estate. Discover more about this residency option’s specific requirements and costs by clicking HERE.

4- Residency as a Spouse

Foreign nationals who marry a Costa Rican citizen can apply for residency under the marriage category. Obtaining citizenship is possible after two years of marriage and residing in Costa Rica. To understand the process and requirements for obtaining residency as a spouse, read our comprehensive guide HERE.

5- Residency as a Parent

Foreign nationals who have children born in Costa Rica are eligible for residency under the parent category. If you are a parent and want to explore this option further, visit our detailed guide HERE.

6- Residency for Foreign Workers

Costa Rica allows companies to hire foreign workers in various capacities, including executives, managers, technicians, and consultants. The country’s regulations offer multiple avenues for employing foreign talent. To learn more about the options and requirements, refer to our comprehensive guide HERE.

7- Residency for Self-employed People or Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals who wish to work for themselves or establish their businesses in Costa Rica can apply under this category. There is no minimum investment requirement; you need to have a business. You may qualify for the Residency for Skilled Workers if you possess a particular skill or specialization. Additionally, a residency option exists for individuals with brick-and-mortar businesses like hotels or restaurants. To explore these self-employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, access our detailed guide HERE.

8- Permanent Residency (Permanente)

If you have been a Temporary Resident of Costa Rica for the past three years, you may qualify for Permanent Residency. Permanent residency provides more benefits than temporary residency, offering rights similar to those of a citizen (except voting) and the ability to work legally in Costa Rica. To better understand the requirements and advantages of Permanent Residency, refer to our comprehensive guide HERE.

9- Citizenship (Naturalization)

Many expats and immigrants eventually chose to become naturalized citizens of Costa Rica. Before applying for citizenship, individuals must go through the Temporary and Permanent Residency stages. To learn more about the process and requirements for becoming a Costa Rican citizen, read our detailed guide HERE.

10- Digital Nomad Visa in Costa Rica

For individuals who work remotely and earn a minimum of $3,000 USD per month (or $4,000+ USD per family), Costa Rica offers a Digital Nomad visa. This visa allows you to stay longer in the country than a regular tourist visa. If you’re interested in this option and wish to explore the Digital Nomad visa requirements further, check out our comprehensive guide HERE.



General Immigration Requirements

Regardless of your specific residency inmigracion category, general requirements apply to all applications. These requirements include:

  1. Verification of the primary requirement: Depending on the category, you must provide documentation to confirm your eligibility. For example, retirees must provide a letter confirming their retirement income, while investors must give certifications on their investments.
  2. Background check: Obtain an apostilled or legalized background check from the appropriate national authority in your home country, such as the FBI for US nationals or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for Canadian residents.
  3. Birth certificate: Provide an apostilled or legalized copy of your birth certificate, which must be less than 6 months old to be considered valid.
  4. Marriage certificate: Provide an apostilled or legalized copy of your birth certificate if applicable.
  5. Application form: We will assist in completing the application form on behalf of our clients.
  6. Cover letter: We will also prepare a cover letter for our clients.
  7. Fingerprints: Coordinate with us to obtain your fingerprints, generally obtained at a local police department.
  8. Certified passport copy: We will certify a copy of your passport.
  9. Consular registration: Register with your home country’s consulate, which we can assist you with.
  10. Passport-size photographs: We can provide a passport photo service, or you can bring your own.
  11. Government fees: Initially, you must pay $251 USD in application fees. At the end of the process, an additional $433 USD in government fees will be required.

By fulfilling these general inmigracion costa rica requirements, you’ll be on your way to successfully completing your residency application in Costa Rica.




There are a variety of residency categories available in Costa Rica designed to meet the needs of different people in various situations. Whether you’re a retiree, investor, entrepreneur, or have family ties to a Costa Rican citizen, there is a category that suits your needs. By understanding the requirements and benefits of each category, you can make an informed decision about the best path to obtain residency in this beautiful country. Good luck on your journey to becoming a resident of Costa Rica!

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

[email protected]

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Frequently Asked Questions


How much money do you need to get residency in Costa Rica?

The financial requirements vary depending on your chosen category for residency in Costa Rica. For example, retirees need a retirement income of at least $1,000 USD per month, while individuals applying under the Residency from Fixed Income – Rentor category must demonstrate a monthly income of at least $2,500 USD. Another category, such as an investor, requires a minimum investment of $150,000 USD. The specific financial details can be found in the respective residency category requirements.

How hard is it to get residency in Costa Rica?

The difficulty of obtaining residency in Costa Rica depends on various factors, including the category you apply under, your specific circumstances, and your ability to meet the requirements. While the process can be complex and time-consuming, it is achievable with proper guidance and preparation. Working with an experienced immigration professional can significantly simplify the process and increase your chances of success.

Does buying property in Costa Rica give you residency?

While purchasing property in Costa Rica does not automatically grant you residency, it can contribute to specific categories. For instance, if you choose the Residency for Investors category, owning property worth $150,000 or more in Costa Rica can qualify as an investment.

How long does it take to get Costa Rican residency?

The timeline for obtaining Costa Rican residency can vary depending on several factors, including the category you apply under, the completeness of your application, and the efficiency of the immigration process. The process can take 6-12 months. Working with an immigration professional familiar with the process can help streamline and expedite the timeline.

How long can you live in Costa Rica without residency?

As a tourist, you can stay in Costa Rica for up to 90 days without residency. After the initial 90-day period, you must either leave the country or apply for an extension of stay. It is essential to adhere to the immigration regulations to avoid overstays or penalties.

What are the benefits of having residency in Costa Rica?

Obtaining residency in Costa Rica comes with several benefits. These include the ability to work legally, access to the country’s healthcare system, the potential to apply for citizenship after fulfilling residency requirements, and more excellent stability and security in your legal status. Additionally, residents can enjoy the natural beauty, vibrant culture, and favorable climate that Costa Rica offers.

Can I live in Costa Rica for $2500 a month?

Yes, living in Costa Rica for $2500 a month is possible. However, the cost of living can vary depending on your lifestyle, location, and personal expenses. Creating a budget that considers housing, utilities, transportation, food, healthcare, and other necessary expenses is advisable to ensure a comfortable lifestyle within your budget.

Can you live in Costa Rica for $1000 a month?

Living in Costa Rica on $1000 a month can be challenging, especially around popular tourist areas where the cost of living tends to be higher. However, living frugally in more affordable areas may be possible by carefully budgeting for necessities such as housing, food, utilities, and transportation. Researching the region you plan to live in and considering your lifestyle and preferences is essential.

How much income do you need to retire in Costa Rica?

The income needed to retire in Costa Rica depends on your desired lifestyle and location. As a general guideline, retirees with a retirement income of at least $1,000 USD per month can qualify for residency from the Disability or Retiree Pension category. However, it’s essential to consider your expenses, healthcare needs, and any additional financial obligations to ensure a comfortable retirement.

What is the average price of a house in Costa Rica?

The average house price in Costa Rica can vary significantly depending on the location, size, and amenities. In popular tourist destinations and metropolitan areas, prices tend to be higher. As of the latest data, the average house price in Costa Rica ranges from $100,000 USD to $300,000 USD. However, conducting thorough research and consulting with local real estate professionals for accurate and up-to-date pricing information is crucial.

Can I collect my Social Security if I live in Costa Rica?

Yes, as a Canadian and US citizen living in Costa Rica, you can continue to receive your Social Security benefits. It is advisable to inform the Social Security Administration of your change in residence and update your contact information accordingly. Additionally, consider consulting with a financial advisor to understand potential tax implications or requirements for receiving Social Security benefits while living abroad.

Do retirees pay taxes in Costa Rica?

Retirees who receive income from sources outside of Costa Rica are generally not subject to income tax in the country. However, consulting with a tax professional is essential to understand the specific tax regulations and any potential obligations based on your circumstances.

Can I work remotely while on a tourist visa in Costa Rica?

Tourist visas are for tourism and do not permit employment or work activities. Suppose you wish to work remotely in Costa Rica. In that case, exploring options such as the Digital Nomad visa or the Rentista category is advisable, which caters specifically to individuals working remotely and meeting specific income requirements.

Is healthcare accessible for residents in Costa Rica?

Yes, residents of Costa Rica have access to the country’s public healthcare system, known as the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS). The CCSS provides comprehensive healthcare services, including medical consultations, hospital care, medications, and specialist treatments. Additionally, residents can purchase private health insurance for additional coverage and access to private healthcare facilities.



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