Categories of Residency in Costa Rica

costa rican residency

Choosing Your Correct Costa Rica Residency Category

Residency in Costa Rica is the immigration status which allows you to stay in Costa Rica for an indefinite time period, beyond the ninety day Tourist Visa that one would be granted, arriving in Costa Rica as a tourist. Residency should not to be confused with Citizenship, which is an entirely different Application procedure, requiring different prerequisites to that of a Residency Application. With Residency, you maintain your home country citizenship and Passport.

Essentially, there are three initial categories of Temporary Residency to choose from, being Pensionado, or pension income related; Rentista, or investment income related; or Inversionista, or investor related. All three categories have the common documentary requirements of providing original certified copies of your Birth Certificate, Criminal Records Search, and Marriage Certificate if applicable, each document being authenticated in the required form in your home country for use in Costa Rica and issued current within six months of the Residency Application date in Costa Rica.  It is important to consult a Costa Rica Residency Attorney on the document authentication procedure to be followed in your home country.

Pensionado Residency requires proof of a pension income of at least $1,000.00 U.S. per month for life from a recognized pension source, such as Social Security. This amount qualifies a single person, or a married couple.
Rentista Residency requires an investment income of at least $2,500.00 U.S. per month, for a period of at least two years. This likewise qualifies either a single person, or a married couple, and minor children (under 18 years). Although there exists a number of ways to prove this investment income amount, the easiest way to obtain the proof is to deposit $60,000.00 U.S. into a Costa Rica bank and the bank will write the applicable letter for the Residency Application ($60,000.00 U.S. equals $2,500.00 U.S. per month for two years).

Inversionista Residency requires an investment in a Costa Rica property, or a business, of at least $200,000.00 U.S. When using a property investment, the applicable Municipality must certify that the property being used for the Residency Application has a property tax value of at least $200,000.00 U.S., or greater.  An Applicant should use caution when applying under this category, as the property evaluation can result in the negative effect of the property being valued at a higher amount for property tax purposes than might otherwise be the case.

An official Residency Application must be prepared by a Costa Rica Attorney for signature by the Applicant, as well as copying and certifying all pages in your Passport to accompany the Application. Registration with your home country Embassy in San Jose, with your Costa Rica contact particulars is also required, along with fingerprinting by the Costa Rica Police.

The Residency Application process takes approximately ten months to a year to complete in the Immigration Department, following which you will be required to join the Costa Rica Social Medical Insurance Plan and pay monthly premiums based on a percentage of your income. A Residency Card will also be issued to you, indicating your Residency status in Costa Rica and should be carried with you at all times.

After holding Temporary Residency in one of the three different categories for a period of three years, Permanent Residency may be applied for. There is no financial component required for the Permanent Residency Category and no restriction on working for a salary, or wages, as exist in the Temporary Residency Categories.

To contact Attorney Rick Philps about hiring him as your Costa Rican Attorney, please use the following information: Lic. Rick Philps – Attorney at Law, Petersen & Philps, San Jose, Costa Rica Tel: 506-2288-4381, Ext. 102; Email: Website: