Canadian's Applying For Residency In Costa Rica 2022 -The Easy Way.
Updated: Mar 31
Before you rush off and apply for immigration it will be important for you to know how long you'll be staying in Costa Rica for. If it's less than 90 days you don't need to do anything as most tourists will receive a 90 day tourist visa. If you are snow birds and plan on staying 120 days which is most of the winter you'll have to do what's called your 90 day visa run. Essentially you'll have to leave the country then re-enter and most often at the Nicaraguan or Panama boarders.
A benefit of becoming a resident is you can forego these tiring and can be expensive visa runs and simply enjoy your time in Costa Rica.
There is so much data available for US citizens on becoming a resident of Costa Rica and not as much info for Canadians. The process is very similar but Canadians do have a few more hoops that need to be jumped through for the process.
First of all there are a few ways you can apply as a resident in Costa Rica I won't go into too much detail on this as there are very clear outlines on professional legal pages like outlier legal. The 3 primary ways you can apply for residency are
Rentista -For People on Fixed Income. Under this option, it is required to demonstrate that you receive at least $2,500 per month.
Pensionado -For Retired People. This option is available to people who are currently retired and receive retirement income of at least $1,000 per month.
Investors -This category is available for people who invest at least $150,000 USD in Costa Rica. The investment can be in a business, or in assets such as real estate.
Other options are Foreign workers, Entrepreneurs, Parents to children born in CR, & Marriage to a Costa Rican.
For the purpose of my overview these documents will be required for the RENTISTA applicaton even though we already own property there.
Document Checklist -All pricing is approximate and based on our own experience.
Birth Certificate -Long form with parents listed. Each applicant $25.00
Marriage Certificate -If applicable. $40.00
RCMP Police Report with finger prints -Each applicant $90.00
Bank Letter -Free, Very specific wording is required saying what you can afford.
The biggest piece of advise is collect your documents quickly as they are only good for 6 months from certification with Costa Rica and they need to be verified and sent to Costa Rica to be submitted for review so be sure to collect all documents and submit together. Once submitted the documents do not expire but they MUST be in the hands of the Costa Rican immigration department (DGME) before they expire.
Each of these documents once received will have to have a 2 step verification process in Canada. Global Affairs authentication is a FREE service but the Costa Rican embassy charges $40 per document to authenticate which worked out to be 12 documents for 2 people x $40 = $480 USD paid by wire or direct deposit to BMO before authentication.
Global Affairs -Ottawa
Costa Rican Embassy -In Ottawa. The form you fill out for Global Affairs offers you the opportunity to forward all the documents directly to the consulate. This saves you time from waiting on the mail delivery.
UPDATE: This part of the process is quite time consuming. I submitted my documents November 2021 and I was notified that January 26th they were submitted to the Costa Rican embassy. They say it shouldn't take longer than 9 weeks on their webpage but it's obvious they are delayed so plan accordingly. Once you have your documents back from being verified at the two locations in Ottawa they will need to make it to Costa Rica & quickly. As from here it gets tricky so in honour of my post of helping get this done the EASY WAY...... I STRONGLY suggest using an immigration specialist or lawyer. Which will run you approx. $1600-2500 per person. (Remember: Easy, Cheap, Fast -Pick two because you can't have all 3)
Your immigration specialist will file the application with the immigration department (DGME) and they by law should process the application within 90 days. However based on recent processing times the DGME is currently taking about 12-18 months to process due to COVID & the influx of immigration.
Once the application is approved. Your specialist will proceed with your mandatory registration with the CCSS for the Social Security System -(also known as CAJA) In addition, you'll obtain the ID for foreigners which is the last step to compete the process.
If you need assistance with recommendations for a lawyer or immigration specialist who will be able to guide you into the process each step of the time I would be happy to connect you just reach out any time.
Kristy & Eric
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Thinking of Buying / Selling in Canada or Costa Rica? Feel free to reach out as a licensed professional I have trusted contacts to connect you with if I can't do it myself!