Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of getting a residency?

Aside from legalizing your status in the country, the residency provides you with a whole host of benefits when driving, banking, traveling, and visiting tourist destinations. Click here for a shortlist of the benefits!

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 of residency you are applying for. (Click here) for a list of general residency requirements that apply to most applications.

Can I invest in real estate if I apply for the investment category?

Yes, this category allows for investment in real estate, however, the government will only accept the purchase prices recorded in the deed. You will need to provide certification from the recorder of deeds, the tax authority and the municipality indicating the purchase price of the property.

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 to Spanish (in Costa Rica), and finally submitted to the Civil Registry in Costa Rica. This must be done by the Costa Rican citizen spouse.
  • -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 Costa Rican identity card 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?”

An 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. Costa Rica Immigration Experts uses a very narrow and specific limited power of attorney which is used to communicate and correspond about your residency with Migración in Costa Rica.

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 the one step that is easier to do while you are in your home country. Costa Rica Immigration Experts can guide you through what you will need to do depending on your home country and region.

Do I need to be in Costa Rica to start the residency process?

No, you do not. However, you need to follow our checklist and get everything apostilled and translated into Spanish in order to submit to immigration.

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 six (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.

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 that country. At Costa Rica Immigration Experts we can guide you through this process.

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?

Generally, a permanent resident card is issued for 3 to 5 years and is renewable. Temporary resident cards are issued for a period of up to 2 years and you need to prove continued eligibility to the conditions of the residency category in order to renew.

How long can I be out of Costa Rica before I lose my temporary residency?

Foreigners with temporary residence who are absent from Costa Rica for more than two consecutive years will lose their temporary residency status unless there are grounds for exception duly noted by health reasons or study.

If and when I do get residency, can I bring my parents to Costa Rica as well? Are they considered to be dependents?

Once you have a residence in Costa Rica, your parents can apply for a special category as long as they can prove that they are economically dependent on you and that you can support them (signed affidavit, income certification).

Is it true that I can’t get a Costa Rica driver’s license until I have a Costa Rica 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 long does it take for the immigration process to complete?

As with any governmental bureaucracy, it can take as little as 90 days or up to a year, depending on your category.

What's the difference between a "Cédula" and a "DIMEX?"

A “cédula” is a generic name for an identity document, used throughout Latin America, including Costa Rica, where Costa Rican citizens are issued identity cards (“cédula de identidad”).

Foreigners with residency used to be issued identity cards with a similar term (“Cédula de Residencia”), but now they are issued cards that are called DIMEX (“Documento de Identidad Migratorio para Extranjeros” — or Migratory Identity Document for Foreigners).

As a result, “cédula” and “DIMEX” are used interchangeably when it comes to foreign residents.


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Because our legal team will work with you and match you with the best attorney in our network for your specific case.