Residency from Pension in Costa Rica: A Guide to the Pensionado Residency


Residency from Pension or Disability in Costa Rica: A Guide to the Pensionado Residency

Who is the Residency from Pension in Costa Rica / Pensionado residency for?

Are you considering retiring to Costa Rica, one of the trendiest getaway destinations? If you (or your spouse) receive a monthly pension or disability pension of at least $1,000 USD for the rest of your life, you may qualify for the Residency from Pension in Costa Rica (Pensionado) category. This residency option offers numerous benefits for retirees and their dependents. Let’s explore the Pensionado residency program, its requirements, specifications, and associated fees and expenses.

Why Choose the Pensionado Residency Category?

Among the various residency categories available in Costa Rica, the Pensionado category stands out as an ideal choice for retirees. To qualify, your pension or disability pension must come from an eligible source, such as a retirement plan company, social security, or the government. A significant advantage of the Pensionado category is that retirees do not pay taxes on income received from outside Costa Rica. Furthermore, once your residency is approved, you will be registered with the Social Security and Public Health Care System (CCSS or Caja), which covers pre-existing conditions.

Benefits of Retiring in Costa Rica

Retiring in Costa Rica and getting legal residency offers numerous advantages. The country boasts a pleasant climate, beautiful landscapes, and a welcoming culture. Additionally, Costa Rica provides excellent healthcare services, ensuring retirees have access to top-notch hospital care. To learn more about the benefits of retiring in Costa Rica, click HERE. For information on the best hospital care in the country, click HERE.

Requirements for Pensionado Residency

To obtain Residency for Pension in Costa Rica, you need to fulfill certain requirements. These include:

  • Proof of a permanent pension or retirement fund providing a monthly income of at least $1,000 USD.
  • Reside in Costa Rica for at least one day per year.
  • Cannot work as an employee while holding Pensionado residency.

Things to keep in mind – Specifications of Pensionado Residency

Understanding the specifications of Pensionado residency is important. Here are some key points to consider:

Temporary Residency: The Pensionado residency is valid for two years and can be renewed.

Permanent Residency: After holding Pensionado residency for three years, you can apply for permanent residency without any additional conditions.

Dependents: You can include your spouse and dependents who are 24 years of age or younger in your residency application.

Business Ownership: As a Pensionado resident, you can own a company in Costa Rica and receive dividends.


To apply for Pensionado Residency, you will need to gather several documents. The required documents include:

  • Proof of Pension: Documentation showing your permanent pension or retirement fund.
  • Criminal Background Check: A certificate verifying your clean criminal record.
  • Birth Certificate: A certified copy of your birth certificate.
  • Marriage Certificate (if applicable): A certified copy of your marriage certificate, required if you plan to bring your spouse.
  • Application Form and Cover Letter: These forms will be completed on your behalf by the designated authorities.
  • Fingerprints: Fingerprinting may be required, and assistance can be provided.
  • Consular Registration: Assistance will be provided in completing the consular registration process.
  • Eight passport-size photographs: Recent passport-sized photographs.

It is important to note that all documents should be apostilled in your country of origin. If your home country is not part of the Apostille Convention, the documents should be authenticated or legalized at the Costa Rican Embassy in your home country. We can assist in obtaining most of these and help fill out the required forms.

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 services only. 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 Pensionado Residency. The service fees for CRIE are as follows: $1,850 for the primary applicant and $1,150 for a dependent. However, it is crucial to understand that these prices do not include government fees or other expenses related to the residency application.

Additional expenses may include translations into Spanish, immigration appointments, local fingerprints appointments, ID card (DIMEX), guarantee deposit (refundable), and Caja registration. For a detailed breakdown of these costs, please click HERE. It is important to note that taxes are not included in the given prices, and all prices are subject to change without prior notice.

Timeframe and possible Extension for Document Submission

In case you face difficulties obtaining the required documents within the 90-day period after opening your application case file, CRIE can assist you. They can request a one-time extension of time to submit the documents on your behalf. It is crucial to pay for the extension promptly to avoid the risk of having your case file thrown out by Immigration (DGME). Each time extension request costs $100 USD.


The Pensionado residency category in Costa Rica offers an excellent opportunity for retirees to enjoy their golden years in a beautiful and welcoming country. By meeting the specific requirements and following the application process, retirees can obtain residency and enjoy the numerous benefits provided by the Costa Rican government. To get started on your Residency for Pension application or to learn more, reach out to us, a reliable immigration assistance provider. Feel free to conclude our quick 30 second assessment. Somebody from Costa Rica Immigration Experts will be in touch with your shortly.

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