Residence Permits in Costa Rica

Information on the different types of temporary residence available in Costa Rica, as well as details about permanent residency...

Applications for residency can be made either at the Costa Rican consulate or Embassy in the place of residence or with the Department of Immigration and Foreigners (Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería) in Costa Rica.

Temporary Residency

A spouse of a Costa Rican citizen can apply for temporary residency. The couple must attend an interview at the Immigration Office to prove that their marriage is legitimate. After three years of continuous residency the spouse can apply for permanent residency.

  • For information on the procedure and the documents required: Click here (PDF in Spanish)

The spouse of a Costa Rican citizen may also apply for Costa Rican nationality. This procedure is carried out by the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones.

There are a number of types of temporary residency that a foreign national can apply for. The most common types of residency are detailed below:

Residency Permit for Pensioners (Pensionado)

This permit requires proof of at least US$1,000 a month income from a pension or other retirement plan. This permit does not allow an individual to work as an employee in Costa Rica, but does allow them to own a company and collect dividends. One pension allows a husband and wife to apply for residency.

  • For information from the Department of Immigration on applying for a Pensionado permit: Click here (PDF in Spanish)

Residency for Retirees (Rentista)

This permit requires proof of at least US$2,500 a month income for the previous five years, and for each family member, or requires US$150,000 deposit in a Costa Rican bank. This permit does not allow an individual to work as an employee in Costa Rica, but allows them to be self-employed.

  • For information from the Department of Immigration on applying for a rentista permit: Click here (PDF in Spanish)

Residency for Investors (Inversionista)

This permit allows individuals to become a resident if they make an investment of at least US$200,000 in Costa Rican businesses or real estate, or US$100,000 in a reforestation program. This permit does allow an individual to take up employment, if they choose.

  • For information from the Department of Immigration on applying for a Inversionista permit: Click here (PDF in Spanish)

Permanent Residency

Permanent residency permits allow the holder to remain in Costa Rica indefinitely, and entitles them to work. Those who have an immediate relative who is a Costa Rican citizen can apply for permanent residency. These relatives include:

  • Parents
  • Children who are minors and children who are not minors but who have a disability
  • Siblings who are minors, or siblings who are not minors but who have a disability

A spouse can also apply for permanent residency; however, the spouse of a Costa Rican citizen must first obtain temporary residency. After three years, the spouse can apply for permanent residency.

Further information and application forms can be found on the Department of Immigration website.