Permanent Residence and Citizenship in Costa Rica
All travelers must have a valid passport to enter the country for either business or tourism. 90 day entry visas are granted at the airport. At departure there is an airport tax of USD 26; an arrival tax of USD 15 is also planned. Residence has traditionally been obtained in one of 2 ways:
The Retirement Law
Under Law No 6982 of 1984 a foreigner may acquire residence in Costa Rica if he can show a sufficient income (USD 600 per month) whether from investments or from a pension and irrespective of whether the income is sourced locally or abroad. Residence obtained under this law allows an individual to work in Costa Rica but does not allow him to work in areas which would have the effect of displacing indigenous workers. A resident under this law is expected to reside in Costa Rica for at least 4 months in each calendar year.
The Residence Law 1950
Residence permits obtained under Law 1155 of 1950 carry no restrictions on the sorts of economic activity that a resident permit holder can engage in. However permits under this law are granted on a very selective basis and only to businessmen and professionals.
The General Law of Immigration
The new Costa Rica Immigration Law was published in the official Costa Rica government newspaper La Gaceta on September 1, 2009. The law is effective as of March 1, 2010. The new law creates five residency types as follows:
- Pensionado. Must have proof of USD 1,000 per month in income from permanent pension or retirement fund; Can claim spouse and dependents under 25 years of age or older with disabilities; Cannot work as an employee; Can own a company and receive income; Cannot be absent from Costa Rica more than 2 consecutive years.
- Rentista. Must have proof of USD 2,500 per month in income guaranteed by a bank; Can claim spouse and dependents under 25 years of age or older with disabilities; Cannot work as an employee; Can own a company and receive income; Cannot be absent from Costa Rica more than 2 consecutive years.
- Inversionista. Must invest USD 200,000 in any Costa Rica business or a specified amount of investment in certain Costa Rica government approved sectors. Can claim spouse and dependents under 25 years of age or older with disabilities. Can claim income from investment projects. Can own a company and receive income. Cannot be absent from Costa Rica more than 2 consecutive years.
- Representante. Open to directors, executives, representatives, managers and technical employees of companies meeting certain requirements; Income must exceed Costa Rica minimum wage for specified position by at least 25%; Can own a company and receive income; Cannot be absent from Costa Rica more than 2 consecutive years.
- Permanent. Must be related to a Costa Rica citizen through marriage or having a child, or may apply after 3 years in another residency; Can claim spouse and dependents under 25 years of age or older with disabilities; Can work as an employee; Can own a company and receive income; Cannot be absent from Costa Rica more than 4 consecutive years.
It is important to note that under the new residency law, all residency types must participate in Costa Rica’s national social security and healthcare insurance system, know as “Caja”. Proof of participation and payments for the entire term of residency are required for renewals.
Citizenship and second passport of Costa Rica
Citizenship law is based upon the Constitution of Costa Rica. Citizenship can be acquired by birth, by descent, and by naturalization. Following is a brief summary of norms related to acquisition and loss of Costa Rican citizenship. Citizenship by birth: Child born within the territory of Costa Rica, regardless of the nationality of the parents. Citizenship by descent: Child born abroad, at least one of whose parents is a citizen of Costa Rica. Citizenship by naturalization: The following categories of people are eligible to become naturalized Costa Rican citizens: Central Americans, Spaniards, and Latin Americans, (all categories by birth) who have resided in the country for at least five years. Central Americans, Spaniards, and Latin Americans, other than by birth, as well as other foreign nationals, who have resided in the country for at least seven years. Foreign woman who has married a citizen of Costa Rica and either has lost her own citizenship or simply seeks to apply for Costa Rican citizenship. Dual citizenship is recognized. A Costa Rican woman who marries a foreign national will not lose her citizenship even if such a loss is required by the husband’s country. Loss of citizenship is not recognized. As of June 6, 1995, Articles 16 and 17 of the Costa Rican Political Constitution were modified; as modified, the Constitution mandates that there are no grounds for loss of Costa Rican citizenship regardless of any voluntary or involuntary reason to renounce it. Such reasons would be those of another nation.
Advantages of Holding Second Passport of Costa Rica
Costa Rican citizenship gives an opportunity of visa-free travel to all EU-countries, including The UK, Ireland, the Republic of South Africa, as well as Japan and countries of South-East Asia. The USA is a country for which Costa Rican citizens need a visa, but cases of visa-refusals are very rare. The only type of visas in The US Embassy in San-Hose, the capital of Costa Rica, is multi-visa with 2 or 10 years of validity.
Questions Regarding the Residency and Citizenship of Costa Rica:
Question: I was wondering if you can help me with some answers to the following questions. My son was born in Costa Rica and is now 18 years old. We live in the US and are trying to decide whether he would benefit from keeping his citizenship as Costa Rican. If he decides to continue to be a Costa Rica what rights does he lose while living in America? Can he vote? It is difficult for him to obtain a work visa? Does it affect his college funding? Please let me know if you know these answers or can help use find direction in how to keep his Costa Rican citizenship.
Answer: This is not our business actually. But for information purpose only: citizenship law of Costa Rica does not provide for renunciation or loss (both voluntarily and involuntarily) of citizenship. So, you do need any efforts to keep citizenship. You will keep it any case regardless of what foreign citizenship or citizenships you may have. About benefits in the USA we do not know.
Question: I am interested in obtaining second residency and second passport for Costa Rica. Please provide full details including the process and paperwork required.
Answer: There is no direct citizenship-by-investment program in Costa Rica. Foreigners can get citizenship and second passport of Costa Rica after 5 (five) years of legal residence. Financial conditions for those who wish to relocate to Costa Rica as Pensionado, Rentista, or Inversionista are described in the material above. Our legal fees are as follows: 1) Residence based on permanent legal income (Pensionado or Rentista) – 10,000 USD for a family of 3-4 members. Time frame for processing of applications depends upon the relevant authorities but normally is from 3 to 7 months. 2) Residence based on investments (Inversionista) – 10,000 USD. Time frame for processing of applications depends upon the relevant authorities but normally is 3 months.
Please, note that our company does no longer operate in Costa Rica. We recommend you to contact some local provider from the list of Costa Rican immigration lawyers