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Requirements for foreign retirees to make Costa Rica their permanent home

It has been said that the friendliness of the people, beautiful beaches and mountains, dreamy weather and a more affordable cost of living than in their home countries, make Costa Rica the perfect scenario for foreign retirees to consider relocating in Costa Rica.

However, to make this dream come true, there are several legal requirements for they to complete.

The key point for anyone wishing to obtain a temporary residence as a pensioner, is to prove to the Costa Rican authorities that they receive a retirement benefit or pension of no less than $1,000USD, as it’s determined in Costa Rica´s Law of Immigration (2010).

If the foreign citizen fulfills this fundamental requirement, then he/she can start with the specific procedures established by the Direction of Immigration.

The following is a list of the Immigration requirements as per the Costa Rican Authorities:

1. Demonstrate with an authentic document that they enjoy a lifelong pension or retirement benefit, which can´t be for less than a thousand dollars a month (U.S. $1,000.00) in U.S. currency or its equivalent in colones with an exchange rate determined by the Central Bank of Costa Rica. This document must be issued at the place of former domicile duly authenticated or apostilled (an apostille is a certificate that authenticates the origin of a public document and gives it international validity).

2. Fill out the Affiliation Form available at the Immigration offices and its website: www.migracion.go.cr. You can find it at the section Foreign People, subsection Residences and then in the Temporary tab.

3. Submit a letter justifying the reasons for requesting the temporary residence. Must indicate full name of the applicant, nationality, age, occupation and your notification address. The letter must be signed; you can do it in front of the immigration officer or submit the signature authenticated by a lawyer.

4. A certificate of your fingerprints must be issued by the Ministry of Public Security of Costa Rica.

5. Proof of consular registration. The requirements for this registration shall be determined at the appropiate consulate.

6. Birth certificate of the foreign person; issued in the country of birth.

7. A criminal record or certificate, issued apostilled or authenticated, and issued in the country of birth or the place where the person lived legally for the last three years. Also he/she must demonstrate the legality of their stay in that country, with a certified copy of the immigration document obtained during that period.

8. A photocopy of all the pages of the person valid passport. The photocopy must be certified in the presence of the immigration officer or by a public notary.

9. Pay $50.00 at the Bank of Costa Rica, account 242480-0, and present the receipt for that amount with the name of the foreign person as the depositor.

10. Pay ¢125 and ¢2,50 for each paper submited for the application for residence. Present the receipt with the name of the foreign person as the depositor.

11. Two recent passport-sized photos, with a white background and facing the camera.

It is important to mention that to begin the formalities, the applicant must have a valid visa and, if you enter Costa Rican territory as a tourist and want to apply for the residency, will also have to pay the equivalent in colones of $200.00 at the Bank of Costa Rica account 242480-0.

All the above documents will have to come authenticated from the birth country or perform this procedure at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica; also translate them to spanish (do that with an official translator or an authorized notary).

With all the requirements complete, the retiree will be able to attend to the Dirección Nacional de Migración (Immigration Office) (for questions please call 900-1234567) to apply for the residence.

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