Leaving Costa Rica and Moving On

A practical guide to the steps to take when moving from Costa Rica after a period of residence: what to do, and where and how to do it...

Termination of Residency

If an individual is residing in Costa Rica with a Pensionado, Rentista, or Inversionista residency permit and wishes to leave Costa Rica before the permit expires, they must cancel the permit with the Costa Rica Department of Immigration (Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería).

Schools

When leaving a school in Costa Rica, the school should be notified as far in advance as possible (three months’ minimum for most schools) to allow for the school to prepare transfer documents (official transcripts and transfer certificates) for the school in the destination country.

Redirecting Mail

To close a post office mailbox (apartado), go directly to the post office to cancel the post office box rental. Leave a forwarding address with the post office.

Selling Property and Terminating Rental Agreements

By law, a rental agreement (contrato de alquiler) is for three years, but in practice they are usually from six to 12 months, or on a monthly basis. The notice period is usually stipulated in the rental agreement. Anyone who is renting a property and wants to terminate the rental agreement prior to the end of the lease should give notice to the landlord one to three months in advance, depending on the terms of the agreement. Both parties will decide upon a penalty for early termination.

Disconnecting Utilities

The ICE Group (Grupo ICE) is the government owned company which provides telephone, cellular phone, Internet, and electricity services in Costa Rica. To shut off these utilities, contact its client services telephone line.

  • Client services, Tel: 1115 on any phone in Costa Rica
  • For more information: Click here

Insurance

All forms of insurance, including home insurance, car insurance, and life insurance, are processed through the National Insurance Institute of Costa Rica (Instituto Nacional de Seguros). When leaving Costa Rica, written notice must be given by the policy owner to the National Insurance Institute to terminate all insurance plans.

  • For more information about the Instituto Nacional de Seguros: Click here (in Spanish)

Bank Accounts

To close a bank account in Costa Rica, go to the branch where the account was opened with identification (passport) and the account number. Each bank has its own limits on the amount of money that can be withdrawn in cash when closing an account, so it is advisable to check with the bank beforehand. Listed below are the websites (in Spanish) for the main banks of Costa Rica:

To transfer the money to another account, order a bank transfer to the new account. There is a transfer fee, unless the account holder is banking with one of the private international banks in Costa Rica (such as Scotia Bank or Citi).

Tax Issues

Anyone who has decided to leave the country and will no longer be paying taxes in Costa Rica must go to the office of the Ministry of Finance (Ministerio de Hacienda) in San José, Costa Rica and file a declaration. If the taxes paid during the period of stay in the country have exceeded the amount due, they may qualify for a tax reimbursement.

  • Ministry of Finance (Ministerio de Hacienda)
    At: Calle 3, Avenidas 2 y 4, San José, Costa Rica
    Tel: 284 5000

Social Security

When leaving Costa Rica, registration with Costa Rica's Social Security office (Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social - CCSS) must be terminated. All residents of Costa Rica must enroll in their Social Security program, which includes healthcare, so when an individual no long needs these services and ceases paying into this program, they must file a written declaration with the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social.

  • CCSS
    Tel: 2539 0000

After filing the declaration, a form with all the health security and social security installments paid during the stay is issued.

Costa Rica does not have any formal Social Security agreements with other countries. This means that the destination country will decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not they will accept transfers of installments paid to Costa Rican social security.

Departure Tax

If leaving by plane, there is a departure tax of US$28.00 per person that must be paid at the airport before leaving Costa Rica. This tax can be paid in colones (Costa Rican currency), US dollars, or with a VISA credit or debit card. No other credit or debit cards are accepted. However, Liberia airport only accepts US dollars, in cash.

Exporting Pets

A Costa Rican veterinarian needs to supply a health certificate for the animal, which is similar to the health certificate needed to bring an animal into the country. An export permit is also required. This can be obtained from the Costa Rican National Service for Animal Health (Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal - SENASA).

  • SENASA
    Tel
    : 2260 8300 Ext. 2024 or 2093

It takes approximately two working days for the export permit to be issued, which is valid for 30 days.

Note: Birds and other pets may not be allowed to exit Costa Rica. For more information, contact

  • SENASA
    Tel
    : 2587 1600

Exporting a Car

Rules and regulations on exporting a car from Costa Rica depend on the destination country. Cars are typically shipped either from Puerto Limón or Puerto Caldera in a container ship or on a car deck of another ship. The cost also varies depending on the destination country.