Another way to obtain residency

Since rentista financial requirements have risen so much since the last law change in August it has made it impossible for many families to make this large of a deposit to obtain residency. At present for a family of 4 to become legal residents of Costa Rica under Rentista status they would have to put $180,000 into a bank account proving their financial stability and that they have an income of $3,000 per month coming in each month. Before August 2006, the required deposit was only $60,000 for the entire family.

We work with many families and see that this is a problem for many so we have searched for an alternative and found one. You can apply for resident investor status for much less than is required to file for rentista. There is a lot to know about this before deciding it is for you so email us for details on how it works. This is not for everyone but definately a viable option for a family applying for residency.


Getting In and out

Citizens of the U.S. and Canada need valid passports to stay for 90 days.  No visas are required.

All Europeans need valid passports; no Western European citizens need visas.  Most Europeans may stay up to 90 days.  Ireland, Australia and New Zealand citizens are given inital permission for 30 days, with a valid passport.

In Central America, only Nicaraguans need visas to enter Costa Rica.  All Central Americans must present valid passports.  Panamanians may stay 90 days; all other Isthmus citizens receive an initial 30-day admittance that may be extended 60 days.

Tourists are subject to deportation if Immigration catches them living here year round.  Busts were held last year in various beach towns and foreigners caught working illegally were deported.  The new immigration law that was passed this past August stiffened penalities for people who violate the law.

If your child was born in Costa Rica, and you come as a tourist, you must get departure permission from immigration if both parents are not traveling together.  The same is true for parents who live here with their born in-Costa Rica children, if only one of the parents wishes to leave with the child.

For more information on immigration policies visit


Immigration draft

Finally, a proposed redraft of the nation’s new immigration laws, that came into effect this past August, will hopefully bring about some changes in the current law.

The monthly income amount required by a foreigner living here on a pension would be reduced to $500 per month instead of the present amount of $600.

Not such good news for Rentista applicants.  At present under the law, you are required to have $1000 per adult and $500 per child per month to live on.  You have to put this money in a bank account to show financial capability for five years. This amount is going up to $2000 per month but you don’t have to show extra for a spouse or children.  So for a family of 4, the money needed to put into a costa rican bank according to the law of August was $180,000.  If this proposed redraft is passed you will only need $120,000.  This is still twice what it was last year before the changes took place when it was only $60,000 per adult or total family.
The proposed law also creates a special fund and assessment for most foreigners living here.  The purpose is to generate some income for the state to pay for medical and educational services used by foreigners.  No figure is set in the proposed law, and the amount is left to the discretion of the director general of Migracion y Extranjeria.   Officials have said that the base amount, around $20 a month, might vary depending on the immigration category, a suggestion that North American residents who are generally pensionados, rentistas and inversionistas would pay more each month than Nicaraguan day laborers.

The proposal also takes a firm stand against those who work here on tourist visas, something which is not clear in the current law.

The proposed law also contains stiff penalties for overstaying a tourist or other visa that could run into the hundreds or thousands of dollars.  Those who overstay visas face a fine equal to double the monthly assessment for their immigration category for each day they have overstayed their visa.  Or they must remain out of the country for triple the time they have overstayed the visa.

Permanent residency is now available to a rentista after only two years when before it was 5 years.

Tourists (those here on a tourist visa) continue to be considered non-residents and do not build time towards residency, under terms of the proposal.

Temporary residents, such as inversionistas, pensionados and rentistas would still be forbidden to work for a salary, but the law spells out clearly that they can do work on their own account.  That has been interpreted as running their own businesses.  They must spend at least six months inm the country each year, according to the proposal.

The proposal also lets foreigners apply for various immigration categories while they are in Costa Rica.  The current law requires that foreigners do so at the Costa Rican consulate in their country, although in the past this has been ignored at times.

There is much more to this proposed new immigration law but these are the highlights.  We will keep you posted as to whether or not the new law is passed and if any important changes are made along the way.


Our Service

You should know that while you will get a lot of basic information from this blog and from our website, this is in no way a complete assessment of the topic being discussed. We only touch on the subjects that we think would be of interest to someone considering moving to Costa Rica.

Many of the topics that I choose to write about come from questions presented to me by clients. Others are news that’s happening in Costa Rica.

Some things I write about seem kinda fuzzy, immigration for instance.  When the laws are as confusing as they are, I can’t help but sounding a little confused myself on some of the details.

We do know what we are doing when it comes to relocation. Make no mistake about that.  Our service is a paid service and you get what you pay for when it comes to relocation services.  As I said, many of the topics we just touch on but when you come down as one of our clients you learn all the ins and outs of living in Costa Rica.

You will meet attorneys that give you legal advice and assistance on residency, insurance agents that know all about insurance.  We hook you up with the professionals to handle the things that we are not well versed in.

You can learn in one week what it would take you months to learn by working with my company.  If you don’t believe me, read some of our testimonials on our website or ask for references.


Immigration laws HAVE changed

It was reported earlier that the new immigration laws were to be shelved until December 2007 because of the lack of funding, that is no longer the case. Even though the funds aren’t there to enforce the new laws, the new laws DID go into effect on August 12. How this affects you…..amounts necessary to file for rentista status has doubled and then some.

To file for residency under Rentista status, one will need $60k per adult and $30k per dependant. This would make a family of 4 need $180k put into a bank account in Costa Rica to be kept in a secured account for a period of 5 years insuring that you have at least $3000 per month to live on. This is cash necessary up front, can not be made in payments.
This law was to be put on hold until December 2007 but because of the bureaucracy in Costa Rica it has gone into effect until further notice. Many are still in hope that this will be changed but as of this time it has not and it’s not looking very promising that it will change soon.

Government does not have the funds to enforce all of the new immigration laws but this portion of it is being held true.

If you would like more specifics, email us at


New Immigration Laws

The new immigration law went into effect August 12, 2006 but no one seems to know how it is going to affect those filing for Rentista status and other items that are supposed to change with the new law.  Even the attorneys are stumped and don’t have the answers at this time.

The law was passed raising the amount you need for a family of 4 from $60k to $180k but we don’t know if this is going to be enforced.  There was an article presented by the government recently that stated the law would not go into effect until December 2007 but yet it passed on August 12 as originally planned. There is a lot of conflicting information floating around out there right now.  They are even talking (the government) about recending the law as though it never happened.

There are no funds available to enforce the new laws and that is the main reason for all the problems with the new law.  We don’t have the law enforcement, nor the funds to police as required by the new law.  This has put the Costa Rican government between a rock and a hard place on what needs to be done at this juncture.

Bottom line…we don’t know how this new law is going to affect us but as we learn more, we will pass the information onto you.


Investor status

To file for residency under investor status in the tourism industry an investment of $50,000 is required.  The hitch to this is that any other family members that you think would be covered under this type of investment is not.  This would only give the primary investor residency and spouses and dependant children would not have residency under investor status.

Many people file under Rentista status even though they are coming here to start a business in the tourism industry so that the whole family can be taken in under the visa status. Our attorneys have assured us Rentista is the best way to go for a family.


Passport/Perpetual Tourism

As of April 30, 2003 all visitors to Costa Rica must have a legal passport from their country of origin.  Prior to that date you could enter Costa Rica on simply your drivers license or some other form of ID.

Visitors from Canada, the United States and most of Europe don’t need to apply for visas in their home countries but instead receive, upon arrival in Costa Rica a stamp on their passport authorizing a 90-day stay.  When that 90 days is almost up, you need to leave the country for 72 hours before re-entry and a new stamp authorizing you to stay for another 90 days is entered into your passport.  Many foreigners make this trip out of the country every 90 days instead of working towards getting their legal residency status.  This is call perpetual tourism and is frowned upon by the Costa Rican authorities.  While nothing is being done at this time to prevent perpetual tourism there is no way to tell when immigration authorities might decide this is unacceptable and refuse your entry into the country for abusing the tourist visa priviledges.

If you have anything to loose, like a house or business you might want to seriously consider filing for the proper immigration status to prevent any unnecessary mishaps.  You never know when immigration will start cracking down on perpetual tourism.


New Immigration Laws

Effective date put off more than a year
Immigration law to be shelved for more study
By Saray Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The new immigration law looks like a dead letter.

Fernando Berrocal, the security minister, said Wednesday that the executive branch would move to delay the effective date of the law until sometime in December 2007.

In the meantime, he said, Óscar Arias Sánchez, the president, would set up by decree a commission to study the human rights aspects of the law. Also to be studied would be the productive sectors of the country and the church. The commission would propose changes in the law as necessary, he said.

Arias has aired reservations about the law.

The net effect of the delay would be to cancel making human trafficking a criminal offense. A clause to punish so-called coyotes was in the new legislation.

Also delayed would be plans to penalize those who hire illegal workers. Berrocal estimated that perhaps 20 percent of the population of Costa Rica was illegal. Past administrations have said about 50,000 persons were here illegally. If Berrocal is correct, the number of illegals could be over 800,000. Most of these are Nicaraguans.

The delay also pre-empts plans to fine persons who harbor or even rent rooms to illegal immigrants. The Catholic Church runs shelters for aliens, and church leaders said they were worried that the weight of the new law would fall on them.

For expats, the delay means business as usual in applying for residency categories, primarily pensionado, rentista or inversionista. The new law sought to raise the financial capabilities required of those who want to move here.

Rentistas now have to show a monthly income of $1,000 for at least five years for a total of $60,000. The new law would have retained this amount for a single applicant but would have required $1,000 a month more (or $60,000 more over the life of the permission) for a spouse and lesser amounts for minor children.

The new director of Migración, Mario Zamora, said last week that the law might be delayed. But Berrocal spoke with the authority of the president and the president’s cabinet shortly after their Tuesday meeting.

Although many business people had expressed concern about the penalties in the new law, Berrocal blamed a lack of money. He said that a new detention center would have to be built, new vehicles purchased and 671 new budget lines created in the Dirección General de Migración.

Some of those who were to be hired were to beef up a more professional Policía de Migración, which now does not have the same authority as regular policemen.

Berrocal said the estimate to enforce the new law was 7 billion colons, nearly $14 million, an amount that did not exist. The Arias administration and Berrocal have made securing the nation’s borders a priority. A special frontier police force will be created.

Presumably some of this will find its way into the new draft of the immigration law.


More on immigration in Costa Rica

Retired Residents or Pensianado’s is the right immigration status for someone that has a permanent pension.  This only requires $600 per month income from a permanent pension source or retirement fund.  You can combine pensions for one person.