Real Estate in Costa Rica – Legal Ease: Unlike in some countries, land ownership in Costa Rica is permitted without any requirement for citizenship, residency or permanent presence in the country.

Foreigners enjoy the same constitutional and legal protection of private landownership rights as Costa Rican citizens, with two exceptions: property given or sold to citizens through government aid programs and concession land.

Corporate ownership
of a property can be beneficial
for estate and tax planning.

All properties must be duly registered with the Registro Nacional (National Registry), and all relevant title information and survey maps must be recorded. Any modification in the status of a title or any claims that might affect it must also be noted for verification.

Getting proper advice from a Costa Rican real estate attorney is recommended before buying land here. This is to ensure due diligence is undertaken within the National Registry, municipality and other government offices. They should verify that there are no liens on the property, no applicable easements or encumbrances, and all taxes and dues have been paid. Additional checks will be made regarding legal access to water and electricity, zoning restrictions, survey verification, house inspection and possibly other relevant matters.

Although, as noted, foreign ownership of property is relatively unrestricted, making your purchase through a Costa Rican corporation is often advisable. In addition to flexibility and liability protection, corporate ownership of a property can be beneficial for estate and tax planning. For example, if the foreign ownership is properly structured, the probate process may not have to take place in Costa Rica. Regulations for corporate tax deductions may be more flexible than for personal finances. In addition, corporate ownership enables property owners to grant a special power of attorney to act in their absence when they cannot be present in Costa Rica.

Foreign owners of property here (a house, condo unit or lot) may also be eligible to apply for Costa Rican residency as an “investor.” The real estate investment value must be at least $200,000, and the applicant must comply with other immigration law requirements.

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