A proposed modification to section 88 of the General Law on Immigration, law No. 8764, brings exciting news to those wishing to live in Costa Rica while working remotely. As we know, many companies have moved to a remote work model due to COVID-19. This change in the traditional workplace environment has opened the door for thousands of employees to become digital nomads and live anywhere they would like.

The main purpose of this bill is to promote the entry of remote service providers and workers, encouraging long-term visitation to Costa Rica. Of course, this also encourages the spending habits of those workers to help the economic recovery of CR from COVID-19 impact.  

 “In the current situation, where tourism recovery could extend for up to three more years before returning to the pre-pandemic demand, the segment of digital nomads is key to the rebound of the sector,” said Mr. Gustavo Segura, Tourism Minister.

If this bill is approved in the Legislative Assembly, qualifying remote workers would receive the following benefits:

  1. Immigration status: The immigration benefit will be granted for one year, extendable for a single period of an additional year. 
  2. Income tax: Total exemption from income tax, as defined in Title I of the Income Tax Law, No. 7092 of April 21, 1988 and its amendments. In no case will the beneficiaries be considered as habitual residents of the country for tax purposes, nor will the income they received from abroad be considered from a Costa Rican source.
  3. Import of equipment: Exempt from the payment of all taxes on the import of basic computer, telecommunications or similar personal equipment, necessary to carry out their job duties or the provision of their services, as long as they comply with the proportionality regulations that will be dictated by the National Customs Directorate of the Ministry of Finance.
  4. Driving licenses: The driver’s license granted in the country of origin of the beneficiary will be valid for the purposes of driving in Costa Rica.  
  5. Opening of bank accounts: The beneficiaries will be able to open bank accounts in the banks of the national banking system, complying with the current legal framework against money laundering.

Workers and/or remote service providers may include their family, consisting of their spouse or partner, children or other members of their family, that will qualify to obtain the benefit. 

To qualify as an eligible remote worker/service provider, the following requirements would need to be met:

  1. Proof of stable monthly income, fixed income, or an average monthly income (over the past year) for an amount of at least $3,000.00 USD, or its equivalent.
  2. Obtain a health insurance policy that covers the applicant for the entire length of their stay in the country.
  3. Make payment, for a single time, for the granting of a non-resident visa, such as Worker or Remote Service Provider.
  4. Any other requirements included in the General Law on Immigration, Law No. 8764.

The fine print

The scope of the revision would apply to the category of non-resident by adding a paragraph to Article 88, as noted above, which would create a new sub-category of “Worker or Remote Service Provider.” This category would be granted by the Directorate-General for Migration, through the provisions contained in Law No. 8764 of 19 August 2009; who as a government department will be responsible for receiving, processing and resolving applications to qualify for the benefits of this law, as well as to proceed with the cancellation of that migratory subcategory.

While this legal reform is currently awaiting a final vote in the Legislative Assembly, it is exciting news for both Costa Rica and foreigners ready to live the pura vida lifestyle.

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