There are appealing aspects of Costa Rica’s economy which attract the attention and dollars of foreign investors and business people. Through steady economic growth, the country reached its highest GDP levels in 2017: an astonishing US$57.06 billion. With abundant opportunities in tourism, renewable energy, electricity, and agriculture, foreign investors are flocking to this rich coastline to get a piece of the profits.
Being one of Latin America’s fastest growing economies, the country developed a variety of visa options to accommodate foreign investors and business people. Generally, the options all fall under the same overarching category: Investor’s Visa. However, depending on economic activity and involvement, your classification under this visa can vary. For this reason, it’s important to understand all the options at hand.
Property Owner Investor’s Visa
The first, and arguably the easiest, type of Investor’s Visa that Costa Rica offers is the Property Owner visa. After purchasing land and/or residencies worth at least US$200,000, foreigners can apply for residency through this visa. When purchasing property, a Costa Rican partner is not required. Foreigners can complete purchases independently. After finding the desired real estate, there are a series of steps to follow in order to finalize the transaction:
- Submit an ‘Offer to Purchase’ or ‘Letter of Intent’ to the Seller
- Once the seller accepts the offer, the buyer’s Costa Rican attorney drafts a formal ‘Sale’ and ‘Purchase Agreement.’ Both documents are legally binding and outline all the terms of the agreement
- A period of due diligence follows, in which officials inspect the property and its legal standing
- After inspection, the parties close the deed in front of an authorized Costa Rican Notary Public. If the buyer cannot be present for the closing, an approved Power of Attorney may act for them.
- Finally, the buyer must declare the property before the Municipality for tax purposes.
After successfully completing these steps, the investor can officially apply for the Property Owner’s Visa, also known as the ‘Temporary Residency under the Investment Status.’ This permit is valid for two years, but can be renewed given certain requirements are met. After living in Costa Rica with a valid Temporary Residency visa for 3 or more years, foreigners can apply for permanent residency.
Business Owner’s Investor Visa
Secondly, foreigners that invest in or create companies in Costa Rica can obtain visas as well. The country does not require that the business have local investors or shareholders for it to be legitimate. This works in favor of foreigners starting out with few contacts or connections in the country. The only requirement for the startups is that it has a minimum of two (2) shareholders, either individuals or legal entities. If necessary, an authorized Power of Attorney can incorporate the company on the owner’s behalf if they can’t be there physically.
Finally, after setting up a company in Costa Rica, foreigners can apply for the ‘Temporary Residency for Labor Purposes.’ Moreover, if a foreigner is an investor or entrepreneur of ‘Product projects or National Interest Projects,’ they can get this visa as well.
Temporary Working Permits
Finally, Costa Rica’s last visa option available to foreigners is a ‘Temporary Working Permit.’ This particular visa is a viable option for individuals who have an employment offer with a local company. It lets foreigners enter the country to work on projects that will take one year or less. Workers can apply only once for a year-long extension to the permit. This temporary resident visa applies to Executives, Legal Representatives and/or Managers. The most common Visa requisites for this category are:
- Filiation form completed and signed.
- Signed letter indicating the reasons why you are applying for permanent residence, including full name, nationality, age, occupation, and address.
- Payment receipt of US$50. You must make this payment to the account 242480-0 of the Bank of Costa Rica.
- Payment receipt for the sum of ¢125 and ¢2.50 for each sheet that you submit with your application and stamps
- Two passport size photographs
- Proof of fingerprint registration, issued by the Ministry of Public Security.
- Proof of consular registration. The requirements for such registration will be determined at the corresponding Consulate.
- Birth certificate (issued in the country of origin, duly legalized and authenticated or apostille.)
- Certification of criminal records from home country, duly legalized and authenticated or apostilled.
- Photocopy of all pages of the current passport. The photocopy must be certified, either confronted with the original before the official who receives them, or through a notary public.
- Other requisites may apply depending on the following options for temporary residency visa.
Certainly, after following all the steps and receiving approval, finding monetary success in Costa Rica isn’t difficult to achieve.
Expanding into fruitful opportunities
Costa Rica has many business opportunities in many different sectors. Voted one of the most innovative countries in Latin America in 2017, the small country offers big profits for foreign investors and business people that recognize these chances. However, as a foreigner, there are always a handful of legal processes and visa registration to go through, and it can get complicated.
If you are moving business to Costa Rica, reach out to Biz Latin Hub for visa guidance, commercial representation, and back-office service needs. Our team will provide you personalized support to ensure success in whatever market you are entering. Contact us at [email protected] with questions.