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How to become a resident in Costa Rica before the next Ice Age!


So, now that you have been to Costa Rica a few times and have fallen in love with this tropical paradise, you have decided to make the move to Costa Rica full-time…. That means going through the dreaded “residency” process everyone complains about! Let’s start here.

How to become a resident in Costa Rica before the next Ice Age!

The residency process for Costa Rica is not unlike, or as complicated as, many other places in the Western Hemisphere. (Try getting a residency status in the U.S. if you are from Costa Rica!) To speed up the process, find someone who specializes in residency and only residency. Yes, any lawyer can help you apply for residency, but few are experts in the field (if the lawyer is an immigration lawyer, it will say so on the business card).

Now, let’s think about that. An immigration expert would have gone through the process hundreds of times a year, for hopefully, many years. They would get to know the immigration administrators very well as they are used to seeing them on a daily basis. Would this not be a great plus to have on your side? Processing many applications, a week, your immigration expert would have the paperwork down to a science, saving countless hours of wasted time.

The other important thing is the amount of hand-holding that the process demands. Do you really want to try to find the building to get your fingerprints done in downtown San Jose by yourself and try to explain to the police that you need fingerprints for your residence when the officer does not even speak English? Find an immigration expert who will actively take you from door to door for your requirements personally, instead of sending you here and there on your own. You will become frustrated and annoyed just trying to locate the offices you need to go.

Let’s move on to choosing which type of residency you would like to have. There are basically 8 main categories:

1. Temporary Residence- Pensionado.  2. Temporary Residence – Rentista.  3. Temporary Residence – Investor.  4. Temporary Residence – Company Representative.  5. Temporary Residence – Spouse of a Costa Rican Citizen.  6. Permanent Residence.  7. Citizenship by Residence.  8. Citizenship by Marriage to Costa Rican Citizen. 1, 2, and 3 are the most common with expats.

Requirements; There are 9 basic requirements that need to be met which your immigration expert will help you with. Once these are fulfilled, the process moves along, sometimes relatively quickly. Delays are generally caused by applicants not providing all the documentation required in a timely manner. This is the key when applying for residency. If not, here’s what happens: you turn in half the documents and the filing begins but you waiting for the last few document that are needed for 6 months… and the first set of documents expire and the process has to start all over again.

So in summary: Find the right Costa Rican immigration expert to help you along and not a jack of all trades lawyer who says they can do it. (You can tell by their business cards and website if they are immigration experts or not.) Choose your category with the help and guidance of your immigration expert, and finally ask your immigration expert which documents are needed from your home country before you come to Costa Rica. That way your immigration expert can have a look to see that your documents are in order before you book your flight. Bienvenido a Costa Rica as a resident of this beautiful country!

Written by Johanna Alvarez and Steven Stewart.

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