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Costa Rica Residency

How to Get Residency in Costa Rica


Highway Sign - ExpatriateIf you have decided to live in Costa Rica, congratulations; residency is fairly easy to obtain.

There are a wealth of wonderful adventures that await you here in paradise. There are also a few things you must know about what it will take to become a resident of this country.

Costa Rica welcomes visitors, and affords many rights and privileges to foreigners who seek to live in the country. However, it is not without its rules and regulations. Foreigners must gain residency if they plan to stay in Costa Rica for longer than three months

There are four types of residency in Costa Rica, and each has its own requirements.


This option is for those on a fixed pension. To qualify for a Pensionado residency, potential residents must show that they receive a minimum monthly lifetime pension of $1000.00 from a government agency. Benefits are extended to spouses.


This residency option is for those who don’t receive a formal pension, but have the means and the desire to live in Costa Rica long term. They must prove they can receive a steady monthly, unearned income of at least US $2,500.00 for 24 months. Typically, the method of proof is by means of a notarized letter from a financial institution which states that the applicant has on deposit at least $60,000, which is the equivalent of the required $2500 per month for two years. These funds can be in the form of a certificate of deposit or some other long term account that the Rentista is able to withdraw from.


This is an investor’s residency. Potential applicants must have a minimum investment of $200,000 on a local asset, such as a stock, a property, or a business. Residents are allowed to earn income from their investment, and they can claim spouses and children under 18 as dependents.


The “Vinculo” program is for those who are married to a Costa Rican citizen, or related by birth. Children, parents, and unmarried siblings under the age of 18 qualify, but extended family such as grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins do not.

In all forms of residency, residents must live in Costa Rica at least 1 day out of the year. Residency status for Pensionados, Rentistas, and Inversinistas are temporary for three years, after which you can apply for permanent residency. Vinculos are given permanent residence immediately if obtaining residency status by means of a birth relation, but spouses are given temporary residence for 3 years, after which they may file for permanent status.

Once you have established that you fit into one of the above categories, you need to procure a series of documents in order to apply for residency.

  • You must provide a birth certificate, police records, and a marriage license, if applicable. All documentation must have been issued within 6 months of the date of application.
  • All foreign citizens must authenticate their documents either through their Secretary of State or the Costa Rican Consulate and file their intention to move to Costa Rica with the consulate the corresponds to their state.
  • Applicants can file for residency either at the consulate in their country of origin (except Vinculos, who must file in Costa Rica) and the Costa Rican police department must fingerprint them. Fingerprints taken in the country of origin are not acceptable and applications submitted without fingerprints will be automatically denied.

While the wait time varies, in general, you can expect the application process can take anywhere from three to 12 months. You are allowed to stay in the country during that time.

All foreign documents must go through legal channels, and all proceedings must be transcribed into Spanish. It is a good idea to hire a qualified attorney to walk you through the application process and ensure that all documentation is handled correctly.