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According to our experience providing immigration services and legal advice in Costa Rica, we have identified the following as the most frequently asked questions to our lawyers in Costa Rica and qualified personnel. Click on the question whose answer you want to know to display the information:

1. can I submit my residency application in Costa Rica or should I submit it in my country of residency?
At this time and with the entry into force of the new immigration law in March 2010 it is allowed to submit the residency application in Costa Rica or in the Costa Rican consulate of the applicant's home country. If it is submitted in Costa Rica it is necessary to pay US$200 on account of change in the immigration status. This payment must be made at the Banco de Costa Rica.
2. How long does the process for obtaining a residency card last?
This answer depends on the type of application and the regimen applicable. It might take between 3 months and 1 year starting from the time the file is completed, that is, from the time no other documents are to be submitted to the Immigration Department.
3. If I have a receipt of residency application presentation, can I stay legally in Costa Rica?
No, this receipt is only for processing purposes. As a Foreigners you must leave the country every time your visa expires otherwise you will be charged a fine of US$100 per month of irregular permanence in the country. If this fine is not paid at the time of departure, a penalty consisting of refusing entry to Costa Rica three times per month of irregular permanence will be imposed.
4. When must I pay the fine of US$100 per month of irregular permanence?
This fine must be canceled upon departure from Costa Rica.
5.How many hours should I stay outside the country to renew my tourist visa?
You can exit and re-enter the country immediately. The immigration law does not require any minimum time spent outside the country to renew the visa.
6. Can I submit my residency application in Costa Rica if I have an irregular status?
No, you cannot. You must have a valid visa to apply for any type of residency.
7. What documents should I bring from my country of origin or country of residency?
All foreigners must bring from the country of origin or residence a certification of criminal record legalized by the nearest Costa Rican Consulate in the country of origin. It is important to take note that this certificate is a judicial one and not a constabulary one. It is also needed a birth certificate legalized by the proper authorities. As any type of residency has its specific requirements it will be needed the documentation applicable to each case.
8. How can I renew my residency id card?
There are basically two options: one is through the Banco de Costa Rica and the other directly in the immigration offices. In both cases it should be submitted the registration of the applicant in the Costa Rican Social Security and a criminal record issued by the OIJ of Costa Rica. Some regimes have special requirements. It is necessary for the renewal the payment of USD$98 plus US$25 per applicant. You must also pay the US$ 3 fine for each month in arrears if any.
9. How does the new immigration law affect the residency by marriage to a Costa Rican citizen?
With the new immigration law it is necessary for the applicant and the spouse to go to an interview in the Immigration Department.This interview must be done for the next two years. In case there is a divorce, the applicant loses his or her right to obtain or renew his or her residency.
10.Should I be in Costa Rica or should I travel to Costa Rica to submit my residency application?
No, it is not necessary to travel to Costa Rica or to live in Costa Rica to submit the residency application. It can be submitted at the nearest Costa Rican Consulate in the country where you live. It is necessary to clarify to the administration that the applicant has not entered the country and missing requirements will be submitted on time to the immigration department.
11. If I apply for my residency based on a specific immigration regimen, Can I change to another regiment during the process?
Yes, the regiment can change at any time. Every time you change your regimen you must cancel the sum of two hundred dollars (US$200) as fees for changing your immigration status.


Updated 06/10/2017


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costa rica Residency Categories

Permanent Residency: Direct Family Relationship
Based on Direct Family Relationship with a Costa Rican Citizen. Spouse, mother/father, son/daughter, brother or sister. More...
Temporary Residency as a Pensioner (Retiree)
Based upon the income from a pension or similar of at least US$1000 a month. More...
Change of Immigration Category or Immigration Status
Procedure available for residents who already have a residency approved under one of the regimes and want to change to a different one. More...
Temporary Residency as Annuitant
Based upon proving a monthly income of at least US$2500 for a period of 2 years. The applicant must have a current visa. More...
Student's Permit
In order to study in Costa Rica it is required to obtain a special residency permit for students and to be studying in an academic institution recognized by the Education Ministry. More...
Companies Recognition
Companies working under a special export regimen, tourism companies, financial institutions, multinationals. More...
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Additional Services
incorporation services

Company Formation and incorporation services.

Acquisition of shelf-companies. List of shelf companies available.

Business Start Ups and License Acquisition for new corporations in order to start operations in Costa Rica.

Legalization of documents
Legalization of Costa Rican titles and documents (apostille services). All certifications are originals and issued by the proper authority in Costa Rica. If the document is going to be used abroad it will be legalized by the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the corresponding Consulate so that it has full legal effects anywhere in the world.

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