Welcome to the Ultimate Guide to Starting a Business in Costa Rica. As an expat, you might be considering the idea of starting a business in this beautiful country. With its stable economy, growing tourism industry, and friendly business environment, Costa Rica offers a wealth of opportunities for entrepreneurs. At CRIE, we provide comprehensive services to assist you in navigating the process of starting a business in Costa Rica.

Why Start a Business in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica offers numerous business opportunities. The country is known for its political stability, high education levels, and excellent healthcare system. These factors have contributed to a growing economy that welcomes foreign investment.

  • High quality of life
  • Strategic location for business
  • Growing economy

Moreover, Costa Rica’s business environment is characterized by openness to new businesses and a high level of digitization. The government provides various incentives for businesses, especially those contributing to the country’s sustainable development goals.

Visa Requirements for Working as a Foreigner

Before you can start a business in Costa Rica, you’ll need to understand the visa requirements. Foreigners who wish to work in Costa Rica must obtain a special type of visa. The process can be complex, and there are potential risks if you attempt to work without the proper documents.

For detailed information on visa requirements, you can visit the official immigration website of Costa Rica. At CRIE, we can also assist you in navigating the visa process to ensure you are fully compliant with Costa Rican immigration laws.

Wages in Costa Rica

While the average wages in Costa Rica are lower compared to many Western countries, starting a business can be a more lucrative option. By owning a business, you have the potential to earn a higher income, especially if your business caters to the growing tourism industry or the expat community.

Preparing a Business Plan

A business plan is a crucial first step when starting a business in Costa Rica. It serves as a roadmap, outlining your business goals and strategies for achieving them.

  • Executive summary
  • Company description
  • Market analysis
  • Organization and management
  • Service or product line
  • Marketing and sales
  • Funding request
  • Financial projections

A well-prepared Costa Rica business plan can help attract investors, secure funding, and guide your business’s growth.

Funding Your Business

Funding is a critical aspect of starting a business in Costa Rica. There are several options available:

  • Personal savings
  • Loans from financial institutions
  • Venture capital
  • Crowdfunding
  • Work with lending companies like Gap Equity Loans

For more information on funding options in Costa Rica, check out the World Bank’s guide on funding in Costa Rica.

Business Structures

In Costa Rica, there are several business structures that entrepreneurs can choose from. These include:

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Limited Liability Company
  • Corporation

The type of business structure you choose will depend on your business needs, the level of liability you are willing to assume, and the tax implications for your business.

Registering Your Business

Registering a business in Costa Rica is a straightforward process. It involves:

  • Choosing a business name
  • Registering the business name with the National Registry
  • Obtaining a business ID from the Tax Administration
  • Registering for social security

Understanding the process of Costa Rica business registration can help you avoid potential legal issues and ensure your business operates smoothly.

Opening a Business in Costa Rica

Starting a business in Costa Rica involves several steps. First, you’ll need to choose a business structure. This could be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation. Next, you’ll need to decide on a legal name for your business and register it with the appropriate Costa Rican authorities.

Once you’ve chosen a name and business structure, you’ll need to obtain the necessary business licenses and permits. This process can vary depending on the type of business you’re starting.

Throughout this process, CRIE can provide valuable assistance. We understand the ins and outs of starting a business in Costa Rica and can guide you through each step. Whether you need help choosing a business structure, registering your business name, or obtaining licenses and permits, CRIE is here to help.

By following these steps and leveraging the resources available to you, you can successfully start a business in Costa Rica and take advantage of the many opportunities this vibrant country has to offer.

Operating Your Business

Operating a business in Costa Rica involves managing day-to-day activities, including:

  • Hiring and managing employees
  • Marketing and sales
  • Customer service
  • Financial management

For more insights on operating a business in Costa Rica, visit the Doing Business in Costa Rica guide.

Understanding Taxes and VAT in Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, understanding the corporate tax rate and VAT (Value Added Tax) is crucial for any business owner. The corporate tax rate varies depending on the company’s annual income. On the other hand, the VAT in Costa Rica is currently set at 13%.

These taxes have significant implications for businesses. They affect your bottom line and require careful financial planning and management. It’s important to factor these costs into your business plan and pricing strategy.

Electronic Invoicing and Employee Regulations

Costa Rica has implemented an electronic invoicing system for businesses. This system is designed to streamline the invoicing process and improve tax compliance. As a business owner, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with this system and ensure that your business is compliant.

In addition to understanding invoicing, you’ll also need to be aware of the regulations for full-time employees in Costa Rica. These regulations cover areas such as minimum wage, working hours, and employee benefits. Non-compliance can result in penalties, so it’s important to understand and follow these regulations.

Banking for Businesses

Opening a business bank account in Costa Rica is a key step in establishing your business. However, there are limitations for foreigners. Some banks may require a physical presence in Costa Rica, while others may require a certain minimum deposit.

Despite these challenges, having a local bank account can make it easier to manage your business finances. It can also help establish your business’s credibility with local customers and suppliers.


In this Ultimate Guide to Starting a Business in Costa Rica, we’ve covered everything from understanding the business landscape to navigating the business regulations in Costa Rica. Starting a business in a foreign country can be challenging, but it’s an achievable goal with the right information and support.

At CRIE, we’re committed to helping you navigate the process of starting a business in Costa Rica. Our services are designed to make the process easier and more straightforward, so you can focus on what you do best – running your business.

Get Started Today

Ready to start your business journey in Costa Rica? Reach out to CRIE today for assistance. We’re here to help you every step of the way.

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

[email protected]



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Frequently Asked Questions


Can foreigners start a business in Costa Rica?

Yes, foreigners can start a business in Costa Rica. However, they need to comply with certain regulations and requirements. CRIE can assist with this process.

Is Costa Rica a good place to start a business?

Absolutely! Costa Rica’s stable economy, political stability, and high standard of living make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurs.

How much does it cost to register a business in Costa Rica?

The cost to register a business in Costa Rica varies depending on the type of business. CRIE can provide specific guidance based on your business type.

What is the business tax rate in Costa Rica?

The corporate tax rate in Costa Rica varies depending on the company’s annual income. Additionally, a Value Added Tax (VAT) of 13% applies.

Does Costa Rica tax foreign income?

Costa Rica operates on a territorial taxation system, which means only income earned within Costa Rica is taxed.

What is the minimum income in Costa Rica?

The minimum income in Costa Rica varies by profession and is set by the government.

What is a requirement for an immigrant to have a business in Costa Rica?

Immigrants need to obtain a special type of visa to work in Costa Rica. CRIE can assist with the visa process.

Can a foreigner own a house in Costa Rica?

Yes, foreigners can own property in Costa Rica, including houses, with very few restrictions.

How long can you live in Costa Rica without residency?

Tourists can stay in Costa Rica for up to 90 days without a residency permit.

How do I get a business license in Costa Rica?

To get a business license in Costa Rica, you need to register your business with the appropriate authorities. CRIE can guide you through this process.

Can I be self-employed in Costa Rica?

Yes, you can be self-employed in Costa Rica. However, you need to comply with certain regulations and requirements.

What is the minimum investment in Costa Rica?

The minimum investment in Costa Rica varies depending on the type of business and the specific requirements of the business sector.



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