Navigating the Work Permit Process in Costa Rica: Opening Doors to Employment

work permit

Opening Doors to Employment: Navigating the Work Permit Process in Costa Rica

Acquiring a work permit in Costa Rica is a process that differs from the procedures followed in other countries. While it may appear straightforward—find an employer, obtain a work permit, and secure a work visa—the reality is more complex. Obtaining a work permit in Costa Rica can be challenging due to the stringent restrictions imposed by the government to prioritize job opportunities for its citizens. Even with a temporary residency permit, which allows foreigners to stay longer than three months, working in the country requires additional authorization. Only Costa Rican citizens or Permanent Residents have the right to work without prior permission. For further information on finding employment in Costa Rica, please click HERE.

Who is the work permit residency for?

The Costa Rican Work Permit encompasses various categories, including:

  • Artists, Athletes, and Entertainers
  • Domestic Workers
  • Specific Unique Occupations
  • Preventive Maintenance Services and Corrective Post Sales Management
  • Specific Occupations within a Legal Entity
  • Temporary Workers
  • Professional and Technical Guests
  • Transferee Staff
  • Transfrontier Workers
  • Self-employed individuals in the agriculture, construction, and services sectors
  • Self-employed individuals with well-established companies

Requirements for Employees receiving a work permit

  • A signed letter from the intended employer acting as a guarantor
  • An authenticated job offer or contract outlining functions, working hours, and salary, signed by the employer
  • Proof of the employer’s economic solvency, such as income certification by a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Minimum one-day residency requirement in Costa Rica per year
  • Ineligibility to claim spouse and dependents

Requirements for Employers

  • Company documents
  • Business license from the corresponding municipality
  • Business sanitation permit from the Ministry of Health
  • Income certification by a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Proof of payment/registration of company income taxes
  • Caja (CCSS) registration of the company
  • Minimum one-day residency requirement in Costa Rica per year
  • Ineligibility to claim spouse and dependents


  • Documents meeting the requirements of the chosen category (employee or employer)
  • Criminal Background Check
  • Birth Certificate
  • Application Form and Cover Letter (completed by CRIE)
  • Fingerprints (assistance provided by CRIE)
  • Consular Registration (we offer assistance)
  • Eight passport-size photographs (completed during your visit to our office)

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


$1500 (primary applicant),   

$1150 (spouse),   

$850 (child)


*– 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 a work permit. The service fees for CRIE are as follows: $1,500 for the primary applicant, $1,150 for a spouse, and $850 for a child. However, it is crucial to understand that these prices do not include government fees or other expenses related to the residency application.

Prices quoted are for CRIE services only. Government fees and other expenses related to residency are not included.

In addition to our service fees, please consider government fees and additional expenses, such as translations into Spanish, immigration appointments, local fingerprints appointments, ID card issuance (DIMEX), refundable guarantee deposit, and Caja registration. For detailed information, please refer to our website.

Please note that taxes are not included in the price, and all prices are subject to change without prior notice.

Timeframe and possible Extension for Document Submission

Upon opening an application case file, you have 90 days to submit all the required documents to Immigration (DGME). If you encounter difficulties obtaining the necessary documents within this timeframe, CRIE can request a one-time extension at an additional cost of $100 USD per extension.

It is important to promptly pay for any time extension requests. Failure to do so may result in your case file being discarded by Immigration (DGME).


Embarking on a professional journey in Costa Rica requires navigating the intricacies of the work permit process. CRIE is here to guide you and ensure a smooth, quick and successful application experience.

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