Ready to Move to Costa Rica? Don’t Forget Your Visa!

Ready to Move to Costa Rica? Don’t Forget Your Visa!

  • Costa Rica Resort and Estate Properties S.R.L.
  • 10/16/23
Costa Rica is a popular destination for expats looking to retire, work remotely or start a new life in the sun. It’s also an excellent location for real estate investments, especially if you consider Costa Rica’s dynamic and profitable real estate scene – the result of continuous developments in key locations all across the country, the affordable prices for both condominiums and villas, and the popularity Costa Rica has gathered among retirees and digital nomads.
However, before packing your bags and heading off to paradise, it’s important to understand the country’s visa policy and requirements. Depending on your nationality and reason for moving, the Costa Rican authorities may require a specific type of visa that allows you to stay legally in the country. The good news is that Costa Rica is one of the most welcoming countries in the world and the process of acquiring the right visa is relatively straightforward.
The Costa Rican government has established several types of visas for foreigners. These are divided into two main categories: temporary and permanent visas. Below, we will discuss the different types of visas available in Costa Rica and the visa requirements needed to obtain them.

1. Tourist Visa

Also known as the tourist permit, the visa for tourism is usually issued for 90 days and allows foreign citizens to enter Costa Rica a single time. This visa can be extended to 180 days or even 365 days if the person proves they have sufficient funds while in Costa Rica.
When applying for a tourist visa, you will need to provide a valid passport, a completed application form, two passport-sized photos, and proof of financial responsibility. You may also need to provide proof of travel insurance, which is not required but highly recommended.
It is important to note that the Costa Rican government does not issue visas on arrival, so you must apply for a visa before traveling to Costa Rica. You can apply for a visa at the nearest Costa Rican Embassy or consulate. The visa application process can take up to 3 weeks, so make sure to plan ahead.
The cost of a Costa Rican visa varies depending on the type of visa you are applying for. Tourist visas start at $50 USD, while business visas cost up to $300 USD. When you travel to Costa Rica, you will also need to provide proof of return or onward travel. This means that you must have a valid return ticket or other proof of travel that shows that you plan to leave Costa Rica.

2. Business Visa

This visa is designed for foreign nationals who need to stay in the country for business purposes. It has a duration of up to a year and can be extended up to two years.
In order to obtain a business visa for Costa Rica, the purpose of your visit must be for business reasons, such as conducting business meetings, attending conferences, or other professional activities. Additionally, some countries may require you to have a valid passport with a valid entry visa.
You’ll then need to provide evidence of sufficient financial resources to cover your stay. This can include a bank statement, proof of income, or a letter of support from a company or employer. You’ll also need to show proof of hotel reservations and travel arrangements.

3. Student Visa

This type of visa is for foreign nationals studying in Costa Rica. The student visa has a duration of up to one year and can be extended up to two years. All applicants must have a valid passport that has at least six months of validity left after the date of arrival in Costa Rica.
Once you have a valid original passport, you need to apply for a student visa at the Costa Rican consulate in your home country. You will need to present an acceptance letter from the educational institution where you will be studying, as well as proof of sufficient funds to cover your educational and living expenses while in Costa Rica. You’ll also be required proof of medical insurance and a police certificate of good conduct.
Remember that these requirements may vary by country. It is also important to note that it may take up to two months to process the visa application.
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4. Residence Visa

The requirements for a residence visa in Costa Rica depend on the type of visa you are applying for. Generally, there are two types of visas – the temporary residence visa and the permanent residence visa.
The temporary residence visa is valid for up to two years and can be renewed. The permanent residence visa is valid for an indefinite period of time. It is typically granted to those who plan to remain in Costa Rica for an extended period of time.
Here is an overview of the requirements for both temporary and permanent residence visas in Costa Rica:

Temporary Residence Visa:

  • Passport valid for at least six months
  • Valid work permit
  • Proof of sufficient financial resources
  • Visa application form
  • Police clearance certificate from the country of origin
  • Certificate of good health
  • Proof of payment of residence tax
  • Marriage or birth certificates, if applicable

Permanent Residence Visa:

  • Passport valid for at least six months
  • Proof of sufficient financial resources
  • Visa application form
  • Police clearance certificate from the country of origin
  • Certificate of good health
  • Proof of payment of residence tax
  • Marriage or birth certificates, if applicable
  • Proof of real estate or investment in Costa Rica
  • Approval of a Costa Rican government agency
In addition to the requirements outlined above, you’ll also need to pay an application fee. The amount of this fee varies depending on the type of visa you are applying for.
If you become a permanent resident in Costa Rica, you’ll be allowed to become an employee for a Costa Rican employer. The minimum requirement for an annual stay is to visit the country once a year for 72 hours. Permanent residence is individual, does not include dependents, and must be renewed every 5 years.
Foreigners who have a first-degree relationship with a Costa Rican citizen, either spouse or child, may also apply for a permanent residence visa, even if they do not fulfill the residency requirement.
After 7 years of living legally with a temporary or permanent residency visa, a foreigner may apply for citizenship by naturalization. Citizenship by naturalization gives the right to obtain a Costa Rican passport. Dual citizenship is de facto allowed; naturalized citizens are not usually required to renounce previous citizenship.
To become a citizen, you will be required to have knowledge of spoken and written Spanish, pass a test about Costa Rican history and values, and have 2 witnesses that can testify to your conduct and livelihood.

5. Pensioner Visa (Pensionado)

This visa is for foreign nationals who wish to retire in Costa Rica. It has a duration of up to two years, but can be extended indefinitely if you meet all the requirements. For renewal, it must be proved that the income has been received in Costa Rica and you have lived in the country at least 4 months per year, continuous or discontinuous.
There is no minimum age to qualify and this visa may include a spouse and children under 25 years or older with disabilities. Additional income for dependents may be required. To obtain a pensioner visa, you must have a lifetime pension, such as social security, annuities, retirement funds, military pensions, or other guaranteed retirement benefits, and proof of permanent monthly income of US$1,000.
The Pensionado Visa allows retirees to enjoy a number of benefits, including no taxes on foreign income, no visa fees, no need to register with the local government, no time limit on residency, and the ability to bring family members with you.
Pensionado Visa holders may own and operate a business or work on an independent basis, but cannot be employed. After residing in Costa Rica with a temporary residence permit for 3 or more years, you may be eligible for permanent residence.

6. Investor Visa (Inversionista)

If you’re thinking about moving to Costa Rica as an investor, then the investor visa (Inversionista) might be the right visa for you. This type of visa is specifically designed for foreign investors who want to invest in Costa Rican real estate projects or businesses.
To qualify for an investor visa, applicants must invest a minimum of $200,000 USD in a qualifying business or real estate project in Costa Rica. The length of stay for an investor visa is typically three years, and it is renewable upon expiration.
An investor visa is an excellent option for those who want to move to Costa Rica while also pursuing business opportunities. With this visa, you’ll have the freedom to travel in and out of Costa Rica without having to apply for additional visas or renewals. Additionally, if you’re looking to start your own business in Costa Rica, this could be an excellent opportunity for you.

How to Apply for a Visa for Residency in Costa Rica

To apply for a visa in Costa Rica, you must first determine which type of visa is best suited for your purpose. Once you have identified the appropriate type of visa, gather all necessary documents such as a valid passport, proof of financial solvency, and any required medical certificates to proceed with your visa application procedure. Here’s a guide to applying for a visa for residency in Costa Rica.

Step 1: Determine your eligibility

Before you can apply for a visa for residency in Costa Rica, you need to determine your eligibility. To be eligible for a visa, you must meet certain criteria, such as having a minimum income, owning property in Costa Rica, or having a university degree. It’s important to note that you must also have a valid passport from your country of origin.

Step 2: Gather the required documents

Once you’ve determined your eligibility, the next step is to gather the required documents. These documents will include a completed visa application form, a copy of your passport, proof of financial stability, a medical certificate, and a copy of your birth certificate. Make sure everything is in order before heading to the consulate.

Step 3: Schedule an appointment

Once you’ve gathered all the required documents, the next step is to schedule an appointment at the consulate. The process of scheduling an appointment will vary depending on the consulate that you’re applying to, so it’s important to check with them beforehand. Once the appointment has been scheduled, you’ll need to fill out the visa application form and submit it to the consulate with all the necessary documents.

Step 4: Pay the visa fee

The next step is to pay the visa fee. This fee will vary depending on the type of visa you are applying for, so it’s important to check with the consulate beforehand. You can pay the fee with a credit card, cash, or bank transfer.

Step 5: Wait for your visa

Once you’ve paid the visa fee, the final step is to wait for the visa. The visa processing time can take anywhere from two weeks to several months, so it’s important to be patient and wait for the visa to arrive.
Submit your application to the Costa Rican embassy or consulate in your home country. It’s important to note that applications can be denied if they contain incomplete or incorrect information.

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