Medicare & Medicaid

This is an update to an earlier post…….12/19/2007

After verifying information that I recently received, I learned that Medicare will not cover anyone living outside of the United States.  Same story for Medicaid,  you will NOT be covered while living in Costa Rica.

IF you have a medical emergency while you are visiting Costa Rica or while living in Costa Rica, Medicare/Medicaid will pay for Air Transportation for you to be flown to the closest hospital in the US, but they will NOT pay for your treatment while in Costa Rica, even in an emergency situation.

This also includes those on disability relying on Medicaid.  You must go to the US for medical treatment.  Any doctors visits or medical attention of any kind will not be covered by Medicaid.



Rentista in Costa Rica

Residency laws in Costa Rica are changing again!  I am having difficulty keeping up with all of the changes this time so I have enlisted the help of my friends at Fragomen to help weed through some of the new laws.

I will be posting them here as they are made clear to me.

The first of the many changes that I learned of today is the following….for RENTISTA status.  This is the status that  family would file or someone that is not yet of the retirement age.

This new law is both good and bad for the Rentista’s.  For a family, it is a very good thing.  A family of 3, 4, 5 + it is far less expensive to file for residency now than it has been for the last couple of years. Now whether there is one member or 10 in your family, the amount that you have to prove as income is $2500/month or $125k/annually.

That opens another can of worms…Until a couple of years ago, it was only proof of $1k/month/ $65k /annually for a family of 1-2 or more to file for Rentista status, then everything changed.  The amount doubled, tripled, quadrupled etc.  The more in your family, the more you had to prove in income and deposit as guarantee in income.  If you had a family of 5, you would have to deposit $210k to file for Rentista.  It was just a bit ridiculous and apparently the CR government saw the err or their ways because only 2 years after this law went into effect another one follows that makes a little more sense economically for a large family.

This new law will be in full effect in March of 2010.  Until that time, I imagine many people will continue to hold off on filing for Rentista.

More to follow about the other types of residency status available to foreigners soon.


Immigration laws in Costa Rica

Well it has happened again….I didn’t think it would ever pass but I was wrong.  President Arias has signed the bill into law.  On Wednesday the 19th of August the bill became a law changing the amount for Pensinado’s required to have in income and several other changes.

The amount that Pensinado’s must now have to file for residency has gone from $600 a month to $1000 a month.  This is NOT retro-active so it will not affect those pensinado’s that have been in the country for years.  A retro-active clause was deleted.

Rentistas will now have to show a steady monthly income of $2,500 but close family members are included in that requirement.

The law will not take effect until six months after it is signed and published, so expats seeking residency will have options.

Answers to many of the questions expats have on how the law will be applied will be contained in the regulations that have not yet been published.

With a requirement that residents join the Caja and a beefed up police force, the possibility of a crackdown on so-called perpetual tourists is a possibility. Some in government seek to restrict tourists to two 90-day visits a year.


Book on Costa Rica

Well…I’m working on it. Actually it is finished. We are now in the process of editing and correcting my mistakes and typo’s. Unfortunately I cannot edit my own work so I am having to rely on the kindness of others to do this for me.

Lots of information in this book. Some of the topics covered are different types of residency in depth, bringing pets in or out of Costa Rica, jobs in Costa Rica, differences in schools, housing options, hiring help, employment laws and so much more.

It’s not too late to add more. It seems like every week I come across another topic that I would like to cover. This is the reason that it has taken so long to finish and I use that word loosely. I might come up with something else tomorrow or get a question that I feel needs to be discussed and it will be added.

Help me out here. Comment on this blog or send me an email to with your questions about Costa Rica and I will try to add on if the subject has not already been addressed.

Sometimes I get so familiar with the answers that I forget the questions.


Book on Costa Rica

Wow, it has been a long time since I have written anything on the blog. It is because I have been so busy writing my book that will soon be available to all my readers. This book is a condensed version of everything you need to know if you are considering moving or investing in Costa Rica. From residency options to moving and working in Costa Rica. More information that you can find in one place anywhere on the internet.

This is the information that I give to my clients when they are considering moving or investing in Costa Rica and it has helped many make the right choices for their family. It is a detailed book that won’t leave any question as to what type of residency you can qualify for or what type of corporation you need to set up and why.

I hope that Ramiro and I will be able to have this book available soon on the website. Until then, continue to call and write with your questions about Costa Rica.

This book also tells you all you need to know about bringing pets into the country and about the schools that are available so that you can make the right choice for your children.

Keep an eye out, check back, and hopefully within a couple of weeks, the book “What you should know before you invest in or Move to Costa Rica” will be available soon.


Live & Work Legally in Costa Rica

Obtain your Costa Rican Permanent Resident Investor Status through our Government approved reforestation project.


If the applicant chooses to obtain their Permanent Resident Investor status through this type of project they receive the following benefits:

  1. Application can be made directly to the Immigration department here in Costa Rica or application can be presented to the Costa Rican consul or embassy closest to applicants home.
  2. Application is pre-approved. No additional review or approval required from MINAE (El Ministerio del Ambiente y Energia).
  3. Applicant receives all the rights that a natural born Costa Rican has except can not get politically involved.
  4. If the applicant(s) chooses to work they are not restricted to working in the field of their investment.
  5. Applicant is required to be in Costa Rica only 1 day a year. This 1 day facilitates the renewing of the individuals status.
  6. The time the investor spends in Costa Rica with his legal status is applied towards the time requirement’s in order to obtain a Costa Rican passport. (if desired).


A. Investor receives 1 hectare (2.47 acres) of land registered in his or her name.

B. Investor receives full ownership of the valuable teak trees planted on his or her land.
(1,100 trees at time of planting)

C. Investor receives management contract ensuring the trees and property are maintained to or exceeding standards as outlined by the Costa Rican Forestry engineers.

D. Investor receives full value of the teak timber when harvested.

E. Investor receives right to participate in additional future cycles of replanting / harvesting.

Costs incurred in the processing of the application with Immigration are not borne by the applicant. Legal fees, local documentation and official stamps are included in the investment amount.



Over the last several weeks there have been several people, mostly Americans that have been deported for living and working in Costa Rica illegally.

The most recent was a woman working in Guanacaste as a realtor living here under a tourist visa.  She was kicked out of Costa Rica and will not be allowed to return for 10 years.  It is my understanding that she was here for several years working in Real estate illegally.

You can NOT work in Costa Rica under a tourist visa.  This is illegal and if caught, you will be deported.

Another pensinado who had been living her for 2 years with legal residency was caught by immigration working in a local hotel during one of the raids that have become more frequent over the last year.  Although this man was living in the country under pensinado status (legal residency) he was working illegally as you are not permitted to work under rentista status or pensinado status.  He was given 48 hours to appeal his case but ended up being deported.  He has a home here in Costa Rica and has established a life for himself here but because he was working illegally, he was deported and will not be permitted to return to Costa Rica for 10 years.

Immigration is coming down hard on those that are living outside of the law.  Do not put yourself in the position to loose all that you have invested in while living here because it can all be lost in a minute if immigration finds that you are breaking the law.  They take this very seriously and where once you could live here as a perpetual tourist for years and work wherever you wanted, that just is not the case anymore.

I read of at least one deportation a week in one of the local papers and I am certain that not all are being reported in the newspapers.

If you don’t know what it takes to live here legally, read more on our blog under residency or living in Costa Rica.  You can write or call for more information as it relates to you.


Residency in Costa Rica

The Costa Rican Government has identified deforestation as a major problem in Costa Rica. Pristine forests were destroyed to make way for cattle pastures and other industries. The result of this destruction was that top soil, the very essence of life in Costa Rica, ran to the rivers and floated out to the oceans only to be lost forever. In order to reverse this trend of destruction Forestry Law 7575 Article #70 was introduced. The Government here has very little money for preventative measures so special incentives were given to individuals who invested in reforestation on a large scale.

These incentives include:

*the right to live in Costa Rica.

*the right to work in Costa Rica (if desired) Resident Investor status is the only status that allows a person to work legally in Costa Rica. Holders of all the other status’s and even a tourist can own property here but they cannot work. A perfect example is when a person(s) purchases a house here. They put the house in a corporate name, call it a bed & breakfast and think that now they can work in their own Corporation running the B&B. Just not so. Make 1 reservation, serve 1 breakfast or make 1 bed. You have broken the law.

*freedom from the requirement to prove annual income All that is required it your 1 time investment. Pensionados must prove a pension (for life) of a minimum of US$600.00. Rentistas must prove an interest income from investments of US$1,000 per month per adult and US$500.00 per month per child. This gets expensive.The Permanent Resident Investor does not have to do this.

*freedom from the requirement to convert a set amount of funds annually from dollars to colonés. Both Pensionados and Rentistas must annually show that they have converted the proven funds from dollars to colones. For example the Pensionado will present to the Government proof that he or she has converted 12 x $600.00 or $7,200 into colones. The Permanent Resident Investor does not have to do this.

*freedom from the time restrictions of other status. Both Pensionados and Rentistas must be physically in the country for a minimum of 3 months a year. The also cannot be out of the country more than 6 consecutive months. Failing to meet these requirements will cause the loss of their status. Permanent Resident Investor status requires the individual to be here 1 day a year for the first 5 years, 1 day every 2 years until year 10 and then are required to be here 1 day every 5 years. These days are required to renew their status’s.

*ability to make application for status from within Costa Rica. At this time only Permanent Resident Investors can make their application to Immigration while here in Costa Rica.

The fact is that the individual and family receives all the rights of a natural born Costa Rican with the 1 exception. Cannot get politically involved.


What you need to file for residency in Costa Rica

First thing you need are the documents required by the Costa Rican government. And they are as follows:

  • Birth certificates for every family member, no more than 90 days old at the time you file in Costa Rica. Must be authenticated by the Costa Rican Consulate in the state where they were issued.
  • Marriage certificate, notarized and sealed by the Secretary of State, then authenticated by the Costa Rican Consulate in the state where it was issued. (No more than 90 days old from the date it was issued)
  • Police report for anyone over 18. This must be notarized, sealed by the Secretary of State then authenticated by the Costa Rican Consulate. (No more than 90 days old from the time it was issued)
  • You will also need several passport photos to file.
  • Certified copies of your passport which you can get done here in Costa Rica

Bring all of this documentation with you to Costa Rica and you can file for residency here. It is much easier and faster if you do this in Costa Rica than trying to do it in the states.

We work with the largest and most well respected lawfirm in Costa Rica and they, with the proper documents, can get your residency completed in as little as 4 months. Email us for more information.


Rentista status

As mentioned before on this blog Rentista status and Pensinado status are the most popular common types of residency that people apply for when entering Costa Rica.

While there are several new proposals to change the immigration laws in the oven, nothing has been proposed for Rentista status. It as of August 12, 2006 has gotten very expensive and cost prohibitive for some people.

Before August 12 the cost of filing for Rentista status was $60,000 per family. Unknown to many people this law changed drastically and now the cost for filing has doubled for a couple. Under the current law, the cost is $60,000 per adult and $30,000 per child to file under this status. That would mean that the financial requirement for a family of 4 to be $180,000 proving that you have an income of $3,000 per month over a 5 year period of time.

Under Rentista status, you are not allowed to work. You can own your own business but must hire a Costa Rican to manage and work in the business. This is true with any business including a B&B. You can own the B&B but you can’t run it, work in it, cook, clean, anything considered work in your own B&B.

Many people think that you can come to Costa Rica, buy a house and qualify for residency status. This is not true. Foreigners can own property but it does not go towards your residency status. So a family of 4 would need to put up $180k to file for residency and they can’t work then put up another 150k + to buy a house to live in.

There is another type of residency which I have not mentioned here but will give more details on it at another time and that is Resident Investor status. It does not require the huge outlay of cash and you have all the same rights as a Costa Rican(with the exception of politics) including being able to work. More on that later.

If you need a good immigration attorney, we work with the best in Costa Rica and they can get your residency in a matter of months.

For more information about residency and how it might affect your family email us at