To be able to live in Costa Rica for more than 90 days, you must qualify as well as establish legal residency. There are several ways of getting residency in Costa Rica. Our focus here is on getting residency through investment.
Costa Rica’s immigration laws are better than most countries. The country is open to people who want to immigrate and contribute positively to the economy. Provided you have sufficient resources and supporting proof, becoming an investor is one of the best ways of getting residency.
Qualification for residency in Costa Rica as an investor
Individuals who want to establish residency in Costa Rica as investors must make a direct investment/s of USD 200,000 or more. The $200,000 investment must be based on the official exchange rate by Costa Rica’s Central Bank. In case an applicant has already invested, he/she must prove that the current investment has a verifiable or registered value of USD 200,000 or more.
Types of investments needed to get residency in Costa Rica
Typical business investments
Aspiring residents have a wide variety of investments to consider. The investment can be in any legal business ranging from manufacturing to transport, hospitality and tourism. In regard to hospitality, you can open a hotel, bar, restaurant, B&B, etc. Tourism industry investments can be made on tours, amusement parks, adventure parks, nature walks among other related investments.
You can also invest in both commercial and non-commercial real estate. Since non-commercial real estate investments are allowed for several years now, you can get residency in Costa Rica by buying a home that is worth USD 200,000 or more. Non-commercial real estate investments also include land purchases made for future development or preservation such as buying land for environmental, ecological or watershed preservation purposes.
You can also get residency in Costa Rica by making investments in productive projects which are simply; projects deemed vital to Costa Rica’s national interests. For instance, you can invest in a qualified forestry plantation project. You need a minimum investment of USD 100,000 to qualify for residency in such a case.
Approved organisations in export/tourism industry
You can also qualify for residency by making an investment of USD 50,000 or more in an approved organisation in the export or tourism sector.
Negotiable instruments and shares
Since January 2011, the government also added negotiable instruments and shares to the category of investments that can earn an immigrant residency.
Other requirements for investors seeking residency
Besides making the required investment, you need to spend 6 months or more yearly in Costa Rica to qualify for residency. You also need to deposit a USD 300 guarantee upon approval as well as USD 150 for a residency ID card. The Department of Immigration will also require CPA-audited financial documents on your current/proposed investment.
As you make the investments needed to get residency in Costa Rica, it’s important to note that you get temporary residency first. Applications for permanent residency can be made three years after gaining temporary residency. However, you can apply for permanent residency if you have family ties in Costa Rica i.e., you have a Costa Rican mother, father, son or daughter. It’s also worth noting that residency requirements can change.
To ensure you have a seamless residency process, consider hiring a residency professional such as a residency attorney.
Import taxes when moving to Costa Rica
Costa Rica charges import taxes on new household items only. If you are moving overseas with old personal belongings (that are not for sale), you are exempted from paying import duty. You must, however, meet other requirements. For instance, your personal belongings must be more than 6-months old. You also need to enter Costa Rica within 90-days before customs clearance. New household goods attract an import duty of 40-90% of the value. The figure varies based on factors like quantity and CIF. It is cheaper to import more.
Important: Used books and clothing aren’t subject to import taxes. Also, you can import household items worth $500 tax-free after every six months. This import tax waiver can be used to reduce the number of household items you consider moving with to Costa Rica. If you must buy new household items, consider buying from the depósito libre (duty-free zone) located in Golfito.
When shipping a vehicle to Costa Rica, import tax is calculated based on the original price of the car.