You do not need to be a resident to buy real estate or cars in Costa Rica, but if you want to became a resident or a citizen, Costa Rica extends temporary residency visas to foreign nationals seeking to immigrate to the country through various categories.

Your Home In Costa Rica international_academy_headers_immigration_study_abroad_cover Get your residency in Costa Rica

Under the Investor Visa, individuals are required to make a real estate investment of at least US$150,000. (The law says it can be in active business, real estate, stocks or securities, or in forest plantations (with a required investment of US$100,000), but the common one is in real estate since it is the easiest way of doing it). The visa allows the inclusion of an applicant’s spouse and children under 25 years or older with disabilities. The initial permit is valid for two years and can be renewed, provided the investment is maintained. Renewal criteria include proof of residing in the country for at least 6 months per year, continuously or discontinuously. Holders of the Inversionista visa are permitted to establish a business or generate income from their investments but are restricted from working as employees.

Another option is the Person Of Independent Means with a fixed income, also known as Rentista. To qualify for this temporary residency visa, foreign nationals must demonstrate a regular monthly income of at least US$2,500 from a guaranteed source for two years. Typically, this is achieved through a US$60,000 bank deposit and a commitment letter ensuring a monthly availability of at least US$2,500. The income requirement covers dependents, including a spouse and minor children under 25 years or older with disabilities, with additional dependents potentially requiring a higher income. The Rentista visa, valid for two years, can be renewed upon meeting specific conditions, such as making another deposit or proving a source of income. Renewal criteria include evidence of receiving income in Costa Rica and residing in the country for at least 4 months per year, continuously or discontinuously. Rentista Visa holders have the flexibility to establish a business or work independently but are prohibited from working as employees.

For those with a lifetime pension, such as social security, annuities, retirement funds, military pensions, or other guaranteed retirement benefits, the Pensioner Visa (Pensionado) is available. This temporary residency visa requires proof of a permanent monthly income of US$1,000 and has no minimum age requirement. Like the other visas, the Pensionado permit is valid for two years and can be renewed by demonstrating ongoing compliance with the income and residency requirements. Pensionado Visa holders have the option to establish a business or work independently but are not allowed to work as employees.

Once you have legally resided in Costa Rica with any temporary residence permit for 3 or more years, you may be eligible for permanent residence.

Permanent Residency in Costa Rica allows working as an employee for a Costa Rican employer and the minimum requirement of annual stay is to visit the country once a year for 72 hours. Permanent residence is individual and does not include dependents.

Permanent residency must be renewed every 5 years.
Foreigners who have a first-degree relationship with a Costa Rican citizen, either spouse or child, may also apply for the permanent residence visa, even if they do not fulfill the residency requirement.

After 7 years living legally with a temporary or permanent residency visa, a foreigner may apply for citizenship by naturalization. Citizenship by naturalization gives the right to obtain the Costa Rican passport. Dual citizenship is de facto allowed; naturalized citizens are not usually required to renounce to previous citizenship.

To become citizen, you will be required to have knowledge of spoken and written Spanish, pass a test about Costa Rican history and values and have 2 witnesses that can testify to your conduct and livelihood.

While these residency options cater to various needs, some individuals prefer the perpetual tourist route, taking advantage of the 180-day tourist visa. This allows for an extended stay by doing a border run to countries like Panama or Nicaragua, renewing the tourist visa for another 180 days indefinitely. However, it’s important to note that entry is subject to the discretion of immigration officers, adding an element of uncertainty to this approach. Although such cases are rare, there is a possibility of an immigration officer denying entry.