If you have visited Costa Rica and are considering moving here permanently, or are at least planning on spending more than three months of the year here, you will need to apply for residency in Costa Rica. There are several ways in which a person may qualify for Costa Rica residency. Regardless of the type of residency you qualify for, the process for applying for residency is basically the same. If you are planning on living in Costa Rica, you will need to apply for residency to make your move legal and official.
When you visit Costa Rica, you are given a 90-day tourist visa upon arrival to the country, whether you arrive at one of the two international airports, or if you arrive through a land border crossing with either Panama or Nicaragua. At the end of your 90-day tourist visa, you must leave the country for a minimum of 72 hours before you allowed to re-enter the country. If you want to stay in Costa Rica for more than 90-days at a time, residency is required. Applying for residency can be a lengthy process, but once the process has been started, you are not required to leave the country ever 90-days, even though you have not yet been granted residency. Until your residency process is complete, you can stay in the country, as long as you have filed your paperwork and started the process.
Many people who decide to purchase a second home in Costa Rica opt for residency as they can choose to stay for more than three months. Some people decide that residency is not necessary for them since they only visit Costa Rica for three months at a time. You can own property without having Costa Rica residency, so if you only want to use your property as a vacation home, you may not want to apply for residency. Property laws for foreigners and nationals are the same, so residency is not required to own property or be granted the same rights under property laws as citizens and residents. One of the main reasons people do opt for residency is the length of time they can legally be in Costa Rica. Another reason is that when you enter as a tourist, you must submit proof that you will be leaving the country within the 90-day time frame. This proof can be in either the form or a return plane ticket, a plane ticket to another country other than your home country, or an onward bus ticket to another country. When you have residency, you are not required to present proof of leaving the country upon arrival. Since you are in the process of applying for or already have residency, you are free to come and go from Costa Rica as often as you like. This is especially helpful for people who are starting businesses or building a home as they may be called to Costa Rica from their home country frequently in order to handle business.
While Costa Rica residency is not required to own property or a business in Costa Rica, it may be the right decision for you. By looking at the different ways in which a person qualifies for residency, you may discover that you meet certain qualifications, in which case you can begin your process of applying for residency immediately. Please contact us with any questions about finding a condo or home in paradise.