Costa Rica changes

It is unbelievable how much Costa Rica has changed in the last few years.! New business abounds throughout the country. The road to Guanacaste has saved hours of commuting time for those in the northern part of the country as well as giving some much needed shortcuts to business and shopping. Multiplaza mall is unrecognizable to what it was only 5 years ago.

What’s interesting, the road system hasn’t changed to keep up with the growth of the country. One example would be driving from San Jose airport to one of the more populated and well known cities, Escazu or Santa Ana. There are only 3 ways to get between these places..  May not sound like an issue, however if one of these roads collapse, which happens regularly, 1/2 of the country is in a gridlock.

The road from the airport to central San Jose has collapsed on 3 different occasions in the last 3 years. This is the busiest autopista (Spanish for highway) in the country and when it goes down, you have SERIOUS problems with transportation.

What’s interesting is the number of engineers in the country. There are 100’s graduating from college each year. I wonder what they are using this education to do and what they are engineering? It most certainly is not the roads or improving the biggest problem of the country.

I ponder……


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.


You CANNOT work in Costa Rica!

You cannot work in Costa Rica unless you have a work permit or the proper type of residency that allows you to do so. You cannot work while living in the country with a Tourist Visa, Rentista Status or Pensionado status. You are actually forbidden to do so by the Costa Rican government. You cannot take the job that a Costa Rican can do. This is the law!!!

Work permits are difficult to impossible to get unless a company is willing to sponsor you. The only companies that do this are large, financially established, well-known by the Costa Rican government. The only people that are approved for permits with these companies are executives for the most part.

If you are living in Costa Rica legally, you can start your own business but you CANNOT work it this business.

There is only one type of visa that allows you to work and live in Costa Rica and that is Permanent Resident Investor Status which gives you all of the rights that a Costa Rican citizen has. This comes with one exception and that is becoming politically involved. You are not permitted to vote in any Costa Rica election but you can work.

You cannot move to Costa Rica and start working. Well you can but if you do, you can get into some serious trouble and will be deported loosing anything that you have bought or business you have established while living in the country.

This has happened to too many Expats to list. Foreigners, usually from North America, come down and buy property or a business and begin working without getting the right paperwork taken care of ie., residency visa. They are caught by immigration, usually because they have upset a Costa Rican in some way. The Costa Rican turns them into immigration and they are kicked out of the country and not allowed to return for 10 years.

You do not want this to happen to you.

If you would like more information on how you can get the right type of residency, please email us.

I want you to know that you can’t just fly in and start working, You CANNOT work in Costa Rica!!!!


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.


IRS in Costa Rica

IRS Winning friends among local bank officials!
The sign of things to come: Banco Cuscatlan now requires citizens or resident aliens of the United States to fill out a W9 form for personal accounts at the firm’s banks in Costa Rica.

Why?  Because Citigroup bought Grupo Cuscatlan from Corporación UBC Internacional S.A. for $1.51 billion in cash and stock. Grupo Cuscatlan has operations in El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras and Panamá.

Most United States citizens are familiar with a W9 form.  It is an Internal Revenue Service form used to obtain a person’s taxpayer identification number.   In the case of individuals, the identification is the Social Security number.

The purpose of the form is to acquire information from taxpayers for the United States government’s tax collection efforts.  A web version of the form that can be filled out online and printed can be found HERE!

The bank is also requiring account holders to sign a form that states the following:

“The undersigned hereby authorizes Banco Cuscatlan de Costa Rica, S.A. to report, on an annual basis, the information on the account holder and his or her account(s) and any interest earned on such product(s) or account(s) held in Banco Cuscatlan de Costa Rica S.A. to the United States Internal Revenue Service and to withhold any United States tax.”

This is just another scary story of the transparency phantom stalking bank information.

Recently, an expat sold his home in Costa Rica.  He almost put the proceeds of the sale in his Cuscatlan personal account.  There is no capital gains tax in Costa Rica but there is in the United States.  In theory, the bank could withhold money and send it to the United States government as backup withholding to cover taxes due.

If United States expats do not fill out the form, their personal accounts can be closed and/or the bank can withhold as much as 30 percent of any moneys in the accounts.  The deadline for compliance is the end of this January.

Many expats believe their money in Costa Rica is safe from their home country’s tax authorities.  Some countries do not required the payment of taxes on holdings or gains from investments in Costa Rica.  The United States does.  No matter where a United States citizen goes, he or she owes taxes on the money he or she makes on investments.

Many expats from the United States try to hide their gains here by using companies to hold assets.

Some go as far as to use Costa Ricans to hold their stock to hide their profits.  Those that do
have no control over their assets, and some take a beating from white-collar thieves.

This kind of reporting to the United States is just the start.   Cuscatlan is just taking the lead because it is a United States banking institution. GE Consumer Finance purchased 49.99 peercent of BAC San José in May 2005, and since that purchase, the bank has scrutinize accounts very closely.  The bank continues to close many questionable accounts held by expats before the purchase.

HSBC recently purchased Banex.  HSBC Bank USA has close ties with the Costa Rican subsidiary and probably will be requiring the same forms as Cuscatlan very soon.

All these facts mean the accounts once used by expats to hide money in Costa Rica are almost gone.  Most banks, even the ones not mentioned here now, require any new customer to fill out a form or sign an agreement that permits the bank to give information about the account and the account holders to any authority, including the U. S. Internal Revenue Service.

The best practice when living and investing in Costa Rica is to be on the up and up with all ones business dealings.  This includes paying one’s taxes to Costa Rica and the home country.  It makes for a better nights sleep.

By Garland M. Baker
Special to A.M. Costa Rica


Work From Home in Costa Rica

Work from homeLiving in Costa Rica can be challenging for the one that stays at home. While the spouse that goes to work has plenty of contact with other people and challenges at work, the spouse that is left at home often has nothing to do. I have addressed this before when talking about culture shock but felt that it was time to address a solution to this problem.

You can’t legally work in Costa Rica under your spouse’s visa so what are you to do? Many people have found that working online seems like a good idea but not many people know how to get started in that area. There are so many scams that try to suck you in telling you that you will make$1,000 a week with no experience whatsoever and so on.

I remember when I was searching for something to do when we first arrived in Costa Rica, I was inundated with emails from hundreds of get rich quick schemes to the point that I had so much junk coming into my email box that I had to close the account.

I have done a lot of investigating and talked to many companies over the last 6 years and finally think that I have found one that can work for everyone looking for a work from home opportunity. It doesn’t require a lot of time, of course the more time you put into it, the more money you can make.

You can be paid directly into your US bank account which is good for Costa Rica laws and not being allowed to work under the laws of Costa Rica.

This is only a starting point though; you have to have a niche for something or an idea of a business to create on your own.

When I decided to open an office in the United States for the pet transportation end of my business is when I was introduced to the concept of Site Builders. It is an incredible system and can help you produce income while you are at home.

For more information from the source, go to this site or link on our work from home button to learn more about this incredible opportunity. Then go to our pet relocation site to see what we have done with it with SBI.

Keep in mind that I know NOTHIING about building a website and mine doesn’t look half bad thanks to SBI. The business that I have been able to generate from this site is incredible. We are still building so check back for more changes and updates often.

Another great idea for someone living in Costa Rica is to have a system for sending out cards to friends and family in the US. I know how expensive it can be going through one of the mail forwarders so we didn’t send cards to family and friends for birthdays or holidays for a couple of years until I linked into this system.

You can pick a card out of 1000’s and it is sent out for you for a fraction of the price of what it would cost you to send a card from Costa Rica. Cards are as cheap as .31 cents a piece and you are charged .41 cents postage so you can send a NICE professional card for .72 cents. And if you decide on the right package, you can actually generate income as well as saving money on sending out cards. For more information on this visit our site

Of course if you have any questions on either one of the work at home ideas I have mentioned above, you can email me direct at


Working in Costa Rica

I get several emails a week from people wanting to come to Costa Rica to live and work.  Under Rentista or Pensionada status (which is what most people qualify for under immigration status) you can NOT work.  The only way you can work is if you come in as an employee of a company that sponsors you or as a permanent resident.

Now coming in as an employee of a company applies only to those positions that can not be filled by a Costa Rican.  Many of the larger corporations, Intel, Proctor and Gamble, Hewlett Packard have Expats living here working under a work visa.  You can not enter the country then find a job at one of these places and expect that they will hire you.  They will not because you can not work legally in Costa Rica.

This may sound confusing and it really is so I will try to explain… If you are the general manager of Intel you can get a work permit because Intel can not find a Costa Rican that they feel is qualified to do this job.  Therefore immigration will grant the general manager and his/her family a work permit.

If you want to work for Intel as say an engineer, you can not get a work permit as there are literally thousands of engineers in Costa Rica that can fill this position.

If you are a permanent resident (married to a Costa Rican for example) you can get permanent residency and the legal right to work.  If you stay in the country for 3 years under Rentista or Pensionada status you can apply for permanent residency and you can legally work.  This was according to the old law (prior to August 12, 2006) and I’m not sure if that has changed but I don’t believe it did.  I will check into to that and let you know if it changed.

Now if you’re completely confused my apologies as I tried to explain this as best I could.

Bottom line is in the majority of cases you can NOT move to Costa Rica and work legally.


Working in Costa Rica

Before you arrive in Costa Rica you need to know the laws regarding getting a job. Many people have contacted us wanting to move to Costa Rica and work. You can not work here legally until you become a permanent resident which unless you marry a Costa Rican or have a baby here, that won’t happen for several years. The type of visa required to live here does not permit you to work. You cannot take any job that could be filled by a local. The same law applies to the US and illegal aliens. You can get a work visa if a company is willing to sponsor you, but that is not easy and most companies don’t want to mess with it when they can hire a local without all the expense and paperwork necessary to file.

So if your thinking of coming to Costa Rica and working, think again. You can’t do it legally!