Residency for Spouses in Costa Rica: A Guide to Residency for Married Couples


Residency for Married Couples in Costa Rica: A Comprehensive Guide to Spousal Residency

Who is the residency for spouses for?

If you are married to a Costa Rican citizen, you may have the opportunity to obtain residency in Costa Rica through the Residency for Spouses category. This category is specifically designed for foreigners who are married to a Costa Rican resident, providing them with the chance to apply for Temporary Residency under the country’s current immigration laws. In order to be eligible, your marriage must be officially registered with the Civil Registry (Registro Civil).

Not married yet? There is no need to worry. We can assist you with the marriage process, the ceremony as well, making it fast and straightforward. The requirements for a marriage ceremony in Costa Rica are simple. You need to have two witnesses present at the ceremony, and you will also be required to undergo an interview conducted by the Immigration Department. A qualified lawyer will ensure that your marriage is registered with Costa Rica’s National Registry, which will issue an official marriage certificate. It is worth noting that civil marriages conducted in Costa Rica are recognized and valid worldwide.

Click HERE for more information about getting married in Costa Rica.

Why choose the Residency for Spouses through marriage – What are the Benefits?

The Residency for Spouses category offers numerous benefits for married couples. Let’s take a closer look at some of the advantages:

Temporary Residency: Once approved, you will be granted Temporary Residency, which is initially valid for one year. This residency can be renewed.

Path to Permanent Residency: After holding Temporary Residency for a continuous period of three years, you will have the opportunity to apply for permanent residency without any additional conditions.

Employment Opportunities: Residency for spouses allows you the freedom to work in Costa Rica, either as an employee or as an independent worker. This is something unlike several other categories of residency.

Business Ownership: As a resident spouse, you are also permitted to own a company in Costa Rica and receive dividends.

Requirements for Residency as a Spouse of a Costa Rican Citizen

To obtain Residency as a Spouse of a Costa Rican citizen, there are certain requirements that must be fulfilled. These include:

  • Documentary Proof of Marriage Validity: You will need to provide documentation that demonstrates the validity of your marriage. This can include photographs of the wedding and other related events, proof of cohabitation, and communication records between you and your spouse, such as phone records or emails.
  • Residing in Costa Rica: It is necessary for you to be physically present in Costa Rica for at least one day per year in order to maintain your residency status.

Documents Required for Residency as a Spouse

When applying for Residency as a Spouse, there are several documents that you will need to gather. These include:

  • Criminal Background Check: You must provide a document certifying that you have a clean criminal record.
  • Birth Certificate: You will need a certified copy of your birth certificate.
  • Marriage Certificate: A certified copy of your marriage certificate is required.
  • Application Form and Cover Letter: These forms will be completed on your behalf by the designated authorities.
  • Consular Registration: Assistance will be provided to help you with the consular registration process.
  • Fingerprints: We can assist you with obtaining the necessary fingerprints.
  • Passport-sized Photographs: You will need to provide eight passport-sized photographs.
  • Copies of Costa Rican Spouse’s ID: Three copies of the front and back of your Costa Rican spouse’s national identification card (cédula de identidad) are required.

Please note that all documents should be apostilled in your country of origin. In cases where your home country is not a member of the Apostille Convention, the documents should be authenticated or legalized at the Embassy of Costa Rica in your country of origin. We can assist you in obtaining most of these documents and help you with the required paperwork.

Do I Have to Leave Every 90 Days Once I Start My Residency?

No, once you have initiated the residency process in Costa Rica, you will receive a certificate called the “Hoja trámite” from immigration, commonly referred to as “the golden ticket.” This certificate allows you to stay in Costa Rica legally while your residency application is being processed, eliminating the need to leave the country every 90 days.

However, it’s important to note that if you plan to drive in Costa Rica, you will still need to leave the country every 90 days to get your passport stamped to drive legally in Costa Rica. This requirement is in place because your license is only valid as long as your visa is valid. Therefore, even though you can remain in Costa Rica during the residency process, you will still need to periodically exit the country to ensure the continued validity of your driver’s license. The institution that handles driving related issues is not related to the government department of immigration.

Fees & Expenses


$1850 (primary applicant),   

$1150 (dependents)


*– Prices are for CRIE service. The Government fees and other expenses associated with your residency are not included.

In addition to the service fees charged by the immigration assistance provider, there are other associated expenses when applying for Residency as a Spouse. The service fees for CRIE are as follows: $1850 for the primary applicant and $1150 for a dependent. It is important to note that these prices are exclusive of government fees and other expenses related to the residency process.

Apart from our service fees, please keep in mind that there will be government fees and additional expenses, such as translations into Spanish, immigration appointments, local fingerprints appointments, ID card issuance (DIMEX), a refundable guarantee deposit, and Caja registration. For detailed information on these fees and expenses, please refer to our website.

Timeframe and possible Extension for Document Submission

Once your application case file is opened, you will have 90 days to submit all the required documents to the Immigration Department (DGME). However, we understand that there may be instances where it is challenging to obtain the necessary documents within the allotted time frame. In such cases, CRIE can request a one-time extension to submit the documents, at an additional cost of $100 USD per extension.

It is important to note that if we need to submit a time extension request on your behalf, prompt payment for the extension is necessary to avoid the risk of having your case file discarded by the Immigration Department (DGME).


In conclusion, the Residency for Spouses category in Costa Rica offers married couples the opportunity to obtain residency in the country. With the benefits of Temporary Residency, the path to Permanent Residency, and the freedom to work and own a business, this category provides a favorable environment for spouses of Costa Rican citizens. By meeting the necessary requirements and submitting the required documents, you can embark on the journey to obtaining residency in Costa Rica.

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