Application Procedure

Information about the documents required when applying for temporary or permanent residency in Costa Rica...

All residency applications are received and processed by the Department of Immigration (Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería). Once the application is accepted the person receives a Resident Identification Card (Cédula de Residencia)

Residency applications can be filed directly at the Department of Immigration in San José, Costa Rica, or at the Costa Rican Consulate or Embassy in the applicant’s country of origin. Applicants filing in Costa Rica may be charged additional “change of status” fees.

Applicants for a pensionado, rentista or inversionista permit must join the Costa Rican Social Security system (Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social - CCSS), and proof of this must be provided before the residence registration card is issued.

Documents required

All documents used during the application process must be translated into Spanish by a certified translator and be authenticated by the appropriate authorities in the country where they were issued (for example Secretary of State in the United States, or the Foreign Affairs Office in EU countries). The documents must then be authenticated at a Costa Rican Consulate. Documents are valid for six months after they are issued.

The following information and documents are required in order to support the application for a temporary residency permit:

  • Birth certificate
  • Police certificate of good conduct
  • Proof of income
  • Fingerprints (applicants aged 13 and over) - only fingerprints taken by the Costa Rican police are accepted
  • Two recent passport photographs
  • Valid passport (photocopy attached to application)
  • Proof of registration with the local consulate or embassy in San José. This only applies to nationals of countries that have an embassy or consulate in Costa Rica, citizens of countries with no diplomatic representation in Costa Rica must present a certificate from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Costa Rica stating this

Depending on the reason for the application other documents may be required such as a Background Information Sheet (Hoja de Filación) or a marriage certificate.

Once all the documents are gathered the application can be submitted to the Department of Immigration and a fee must be paid (US$50). A receipt is then issued, which is proof that the residency application is pending

Applications can be made at the Costa Rican embassy or consulate in the country of origin or in Costa Rica. However, only fingerprints taken in Costa Rica are accepted.


Many applicants choose to hire an attorney to prepare their documents and file the application for residency. If an attorney is processing the residency application, they must be appointed a Power of Attorney to act on the applicant's behalf before the Department of Immigration. Alternatively, applicants can hire an official representative known as an apoderado to act on their behalf.

Once all documents are filed, applicants can expect to wait for approximately 90 days before obtaining their residency permit.


The residency permit (cédula de residencia) can be renewed up to three months before the expiry date, which will be on the cédula. To renew the residency permit, the applicant must make an appointment by telephone.

  • Tel: 900 1234567

It is also possible to renew the permit at one of the branches of the Banco de Costa Rica (BCR).