How to Apply for Costa Rica Residency

All residency applications are governed by the Costa Rican Department of Immigration (Direccion General de Migracion y Extranjeria) which in turn is overseen by the Ministry of Public Security and Police (Ministerio de Gobernacion, Policia y Seguridad Publica). Generally all applications for residency must be filed in your country of origin through the Costa Rican Consular Office in your area.

A museum in Costa Rica

A museum in Costa Rica

Residency Categories

The four most common types of applications and their corresponding qualification Requirement are:

a) Retiree (“Pensionado”)

b) Legal resident (“Rentista”)

c) Business/Investor (Inversionista”)

d) Married to or Relationship to Costa Rican Citizen – “Vínculo” Program


What are the timing and costs?

Due to new rules under the recent Immigration Law, the process itself is supposed to be finished in 2 months. Nevertheless, bureaucracy and the amount of processes open at the Immigration office might delay this further. Generally, legal fees are $2,000 for an individual, and $1,500 per person, for a group of 3 or more. Costs for translation of documents, payments to Immigration and the emission of the residency card are generally $1,000.


Basic Documents Required for All Applications


Birth Certificate – The birth certificate cannot be older than 6 months on the day the application is filed. The document must be authenticated.


Police Clearance Letter — not older than 6 months on the day the application is filed — notarized and authenticated.


Current Passport: if inside Costa Rica, the visa of the passport has to be up to date.


Proof of Consular Registration of intention to apply for residency in Costa Rica. Some countries (U.S.A., Canada, UK) allow for registration via Internet, others may require a personal visit to the country of origin’s embassy in San José. Please note that the consular registration is waived if the country of origin does not have a consulate or embassy in Costa Rica.


Eight recent passport-type photographs.


If spouse is also applying: a copy of the Marriage Certificate – not older than 6 months on the day the application is filed — certified and authenticated copy.


Pensionado and Rentistas: Proof of Income Letter — notarized and authenticated.


Inversionistas: Must also show proof of the having made a US$200,000 investment in Costa Rica plus additional documents pertaining to the investment.


Note this information is believed to be correct, but please use it only as a guide. Laws and rules change, and it is up to you to double-check accuracy. Thank you for reading, make comments below, especially if you have new information or know of an error.

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