Starting a Business in Costa Rica

Information on starting a business in Costa Rica; different types of business structures and the legal processes involved in setting up a business...

Both Costa Ricans and non-Costa Ricans may set up a business in Costa Rica. Expatriates enjoy equal rights with Costa Rican citizens (although the Constitution restricts non-citizens from holding a majority share of a corporation that possesses a concession for beach-front property). Some of the most common forms of businesses started by expatriates include:

  • Providing retail goods or services within Costa Rica, including restaurants and boutique hotels
  • Providing manufactured or agricultural goods and exporting them to consumers outside Costa Rica, particularly to the expatriate's home country, including export of ornamental flowers
  • Providing home office services such as consulting or Internet work to customers both inside but primarily outside Costa Rica, including copywriting

Note: Although an expatriate may establish a Costa Rica corporation, which in turn owns a business enterprise in Costa Rica, this does not establish a right to work in Costa Rica. An expatriate's ability to work depends upon their immigration status. In general, a permanent resident may work, while a temporary resident is restricted.

Compared to many parts of the developed world, starting a business in Costa Rica can be difficult. Most people hire a solicitor or notary public (often the same person performs both functions) to interact with the government on their behalf. The lawyer will recommend the type of corporation, gather the required documents and file them with the public registry. At least two people are required to form a corporation in Costa Rica, although upon incorporation a single shareholder may become sole owner of all of the stock.



Any statements concerning starting a business are based upon our understanding of current laws and practices in Costa Rica which are subject to change. While every effort has been made to offer information that is current, correct and clearly expressed the publisher is not responsible for the results of actions taken on the basis of information contained in this summary, nor for any errors or omissions. Readers are encouraged to seek professional advice concerning specific matters before making any decision.