Here we have gathered the answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding obtaining residency in Costa Rica.
What are the benefits of getting a residency?
First of all, you have your legal status and you don’t need to leave and enter the country every 90 days to renew your visa. Other benefits – you can get your driving license, open your bank account, you have your ID (DIMEX), so no need to carry your passport everywhere with you anymore, you get resident discounts.
Am I still required to leave the country every 90 days to renew my visa, while my paperwork is being processed by immigration?
Once the application is filed, you will have a receipt (Certificado Tramite Migratorio) from Costa Rica immigration, allowing you to stay in the country while the application is being processed. Therefore, you will not be required to leave the country every 90 days to renew the visitor visa.
What documents do I need to apply for residency?
Document requirements vary depending on the category you are applying for. Click here for a list of general residency requirements:
Can I invest in real estate if I apply for the investment category?
Yes, you need to invest $200 000 USD in your property in Costa Rica to apply for the Investor category
What if I married a Costa Rican outside of Costa Rica? What documentation do I need?
- The marriage certificate will need to be Apostilled, or authenticated and legalized by the Costa Rican consulate (depending on the country of origin), then officially translated into Spanish (in Costa Rica), and finally submitted to the Civil Registry in Costa Rica.
- -OR- The marriage certificate can be brought to the corresponding Costa Rican consulate to be registered. Both spouses should be present to make the marriage declaration and provide their identifications (valid ID for the Costa Rican citizen spouse, and valid passport of the foreign spouse).
Both processes can take some time, and local registration of the marriage must be done prior to applying for residency as a spouse of a Costa Rican citizen.
What is “Apoderado?”
“Apoderado” is a person who meets certain legal requirements established by the government of Costa Rica and to whom you grant a limited power of attorney to act on your behalf and to represent you for the sole purpose of processing your application for residency.
Can "JAROS Costa Rica" Immigration Experts obtain the paperwork I need from my home country or do I have to go back to get them?
This is easier and cheaper for you to collect all your documents while you are in your home country. But if you are already in Costa Rica and need to get your documents from home done, JAROS CR can help you for the additional cost.
Do I need to be in Costa Rica to start the residency process?
Yes, you need to be present when your file will be opened, but we can start with your documents preparation beforehand to save your time.
How long are my birth certificate and police letter valid?
Your key documents, birth certificate, marriage certificate, police letter, and income letter are valid for only 6 months from the date the document is issued (not when it gets apostilled or legalized, etc). It’s best to give yourself plenty of time and not push it.
All foreign documents must either be Apostilled or Authenticated by the Costa Rican Consulate in your country. What does that mean?
Costa Rican government agencies cannot accept official documents issued abroad without the proper legalization procedure. Think of it as “exporting” the document to Costa Rica.
If your home country IS a party to the Apostille Convention (such as the USA and most of Europe, but not Canada), you can have your foreign document (such as a birth certificate or police check) apostilled by the competent local authority in your country of origin.
If your home country IS NOT a party to the Apostille Convention, then you will need the document authenticated by the Costa Rican consulate in your home country. At Costa Rica Immigration Experts we can guide you through this process.
To check if your country is part of the Apostille Convention, click HERE.
Can I have my fingerprints taken in my own country?
No. All applicants over the age of 13 must be fingerprinted in Costa Rica by the Costa Rican police. We will accompany you to have your fingerprints done.
How long is residency valid for?
A permanent resident card is usually granted for 2 – 5 years and is renewable. Temporary resident cards are valid for up to 2 years and must be renewed by demonstrating continuing eligibility under the residence category’s requirements.
How long can I be out of Costa Rica before I lose my temporary residency?
In order not to lose your temporary residency status, you need to be in Costa Rica at least 1 day per year, unless there are grounds for exception due to health reasons or study.
Is it true that I can’t get a Costa Rica driver’s license until I have a Costa Rican Cedula? Why does Immigration care about my driver’s license?
Yes, that is true, but not because of immigration regulations. The transit department has its own rules. If you are visiting Costa Rica, you may drive on the driver’s license issued by your home country so long as your visa has not expired. After your visa has expired, the license is no longer valid, which means that you need to re-enter Costa Rica in order for the driver’s license to be valid again.
How much time does it take to get my residency status after all the documents are submitted to the Immigration?
When ALL your documents are presented into Immigration, it will take 90 days + weekends and holidays, to get your residency status.
If at least 1 document is missing in the Immigration, from the day you complete it –
your waiting time is automatically extended for 90 days more + weekends and holidays.
If you do not present your missing document(s) during these 90 days, your file will be expired.
What’s the difference between a “Cedula” and a “DIMEX”?
A “cédula” is a generic name for an identity document, used throughout Latin America, including Costa Rica. Costa Rican citizens are issued identity cards (“cédula de identidad”).
Foreigners are issued cards that are called DIMEX (“Documento de Identidad Migratorio para Extranjeros” — or Migratory Identity Document for Foreigners).
So, “cédula” is for CR citizens and foreigners who got their CR citizenship, and “DIMEX” is for foreign residents.