The application process for Costa Rica residency can seem daunting, even if you have a general sense of what’s expected. Specific questions are likely to arise at various stages, which is when legal expertise and support are invaluable. Many Costa Rican law firms offer services to residency applicants in a “one-stop shop” manner. Our offices can provide step-by-step guidance and assistance in meeting the requirements outlined below. A comprehensive client information page elaborates on the details and types of help you might need and want.


Application letter to immigration authority: Individual family members each require a separate file. Parents sign on behalf of minor children.

Fingerprints taken at the Costa Rican Ministry of Public Security: Must be done in person in San José. Required for applicants 12 years and older.

Complete copy of applicant’s passport certified by notary public: Required for all applicants, including minors. All passports and tourist visas must be valid and current.

Registration at applicant’s consulate in Costa Rica: Waived if applicant’s country of citizenship does not have a consulate or embassy in Costa Rica.

Birth certificate*

Marriage certificate*: If the applicant is married and wishes to include spouse as a dependent.

Criminal record*: Applicants 12 years and over must provide any record of convictions for criminal activity from their country of origin or last country of residence for more than three years.

8 passport size photos: A requirement for applicant, spouse, and dependent children.

*All of these must be apostilled, or if your native country is not a signatory to the Apostille Convention, duly legalized and submitted to the Costa Rican consulate in your country of origin. (See LegalEase article in the December 2017 Howler at


This requirement for the main applicant also qualifies the applicant’s spouse and dependent children younger than 25 years.

Proof is required for one of the following income sources:


Certification that applicant receives a lifetime pension of at least $1,000 per month from a qualified source abroad, including a retirement plan or Social Security
Proof that this income was converted into colones in a nationally recognized bank


Applicant must demonstrate a real estate investment in Costa Rica with a value of at least $200,000

Fixed Annuity

Certification that applicant has received a guaranteed annuity of $2,500 per month for at least two years
Proof that this income was converted into colones in a nationally recognized bank


  • All documents not in Spanish must be duly translated into Spanish by an official translator approved by the Costa Rica Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Once the residency has been approved, applicants must register with Costa Rican Social Security (CCSS)