Sunday, May 26

What are the Residency Program Options for Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is an attractive destination for those who are retiring. The hillside villages, rain forests, tropical climate, modern cities, and the low cost of living are some of the reasons why a lot of people seek residency in this country. It should be noted that Costa Rica has one of the best standards of living in Central America.

Residency and Retirement Programs for Expats in Costa Rica

For those who are looking forward to retiring or seek residency in Costa Rica, the process is straight forward. Getting the Costa Rican cedula or “green card” as they call it depends on your preferences. There are three residency options to choose from: inversionista, rentista, pensionado.

Of all the three retirement programs, pensionado is the most sought-after. It appeals to those who want to live in Costa Rica full time. The requirements include:

  • $1,000 monthly income per person from a government pension or social security.
  • You can’t work for anyone or company in Costa Rica
  • You can start a business
  • You don’t need to stay in Costa Rica for a certain amount of time annually. However, if you stay outside this nation for two years consecutively, then you will lose your residency.
  • You need to renew the visa every two years and it will cost you around $100

Both inversionista and rentista also need renewal every two years. Besides that, you can’t work if you have either of the residency visas. In case you go for inversionista, then you need to have at least $200,000 in your account and have a property or business in Costa Rica. In addition to that, you will need to spend 6 months in your country.

On the other hand, rentista is normally applied by those who have regular investment incomes. They need to earn not less than $2,500 monthly and this should be verified by a bank report dating back two years. If this can’t be verified, then the applicant should deposit at least $60,000 in their Costa Rican account.


All three types of retirement programs require:

  • A copy of the birth certificate
  • A certificate of good conduct obtained from your last place of residency
  • Income certificate
  • A letter explaining why you need a residency
  • Two passport photos
  • Around $300 application fees, if you are doing it alone.

The Residency Application Process

If you understand Spanish, then you can do the application by yourself. But if that’s not the case, then you will have to employ an experienced lawyer because many government officials can’t converse in English.

When hiring a lawyer, please consider your options. Remember the adage, “you get what you pay for,” so you do not fall victim to fraud. A reputable lawyer is going to charge you at least $600. However, they will not only be your translators but ensure that you have the right documents and get you into the right offices.

How Long Does it Take to Get Residence Visa in Costa Rica?

For your residency application to be approved, it might between 4 months to a year. The time frame normally depends on the type of application you are going for. Besides that, the number of applications in the immigration department greatly influences the waiting time. But while your application is being processed, you can wait by staying in Costa Rica or go back to your home country.