DIMEX
RENEWALS and FIRST-TIME ISSUANCE PROCEDURES 

Date

Picture of a DIMEX residency card for Costa Rica

Correct Terminology

A residency card is referred to a DIMEX as pictured above.

Not to be confused with Cedula – A.K.A. Citizenship card pictured below.

Also, not to be confused with a Visa, which, for most of you reading this, is a 180-day stamp you receive on your passport upon entering Costa Rica. Also referred to as a Tourist Visa.

NOTE
This new and updated style of DIMEX card is capable of providing more security, while instantly providing more detail when the card is scanned for transactions and security checks. The process of bringing in this new technology was initially planned to take two years beginning September 2022. Significant delays have occurred. More details as to what and why are outlined below.

Topics covered:

  • First time issuance.
  • DIMEX Renewal – Normally occurs every two or three years.
  • DIMEX Duplicate – Due to loss, damage, or theft.
  • Cedula (Citizenship) Duplicate – Due to loss or theft.

First-time issuance

(By appointment – see below). 
(Following the approval of your application for legal residency)

  • Copy of the Resolution received from the DGME. (Proof of approval of your residency application).
  • Current passport in good condition.
  • BCR receipts show payment of the three government fees indicated in the Resolution. Those receipts must include your full name as spelled out on your passport. (Precisely). 
  • Proof of CAJA enrollment. 
  • Photocopies of the appropriate documents relating to the category you applied for. IE: Marriage certificate, proof of pension, proof of income bank letter, Inversionista documents. Each should show a DGME stamp affixed to the photocopy at the time of the submission of the residency application.
  • Informed consent document on the use of data, printed and signed. (Attached in the mail you receive). (See a sample below).
  • TYPED out on an 8.5 x 11” white sheet of paper: The names of your parents as they appear on your birth certificate.
  • TYPED out on an 8.5 x 11” white sheet of paper: Your email address.
  • At the time of the appointment, provide a valid email, Costa Rica phone number, and address.
  • Before your appointment, you must pay ₡7,910 for administrative expenses in cash at the Correos de Costa Rica – or – cash or BCR card at the BCR.
  • Arrive at least 10 minutes before the agreed time for the appointment with the complete requirements; otherwise, the procedure will not be attended.
  • Prepare to communicate in Costa Rican Spanish.
  • Crucial: Engage a neat, polite Costa Rican to assist with translation during each task. Spanish is Costa Rica’s official language, so you cannot expect staff at any venue to speak to you in English. Nor can you rely on a phone app. Regarding technical transactions such as this, it is essential to communicate with perfect Costa Rican Spanish. Don’t try to save a buck and end up in frustration and avoidable needless expense. You are dealing with a severe process involving thousands of dollars. (CAJA) 

Remember the adage: “Never enough time or $$ to do it right. Always enough of both to do it over.” 

Also, maintain control over your translator no matter how “dear” a friend, relative, or neighbor. Assume nothing. Ever. Keep a printout of your instructions at all times for constant reference so you know how to direct your translator. Otherwise, they may take over the process and make stuff up independently, getting each of you in trouble. (Common occurrence).


Renewal of previously issued DIMEX

(A.K.A. Residency Card – in case you’ve already forgotten the term).

Pros:

  • It is less involved and costly than the initial application for Legal Residency.
  • Minimal fees.
  • If you are age 65 or older, there is no need for an appointment, and depending on where you apply, you may receive either the actual plastic DIMEX card on the same day or a digital version with a QR code that acts the same while awaiting the arrival of the solid plastic DIMEX card.

Cons:

  • Requires an appointment for those under age 65.  How-to instructions are listed below.
  • Official instructions on the DGME (Immigration), Correos de CR (Post Office), or BCR (Bank of Costa Rica) websites are in overly wordy Spanish, somewhat ambiguous, and not up to date.
  • Each location you go to may differ in what they demand in documents.
  • Cards can take up to four months to be sent out to you. (The reasons why are spelled out below.)
  • Pensionados and Rentistas under age 65 can only apply at participating BCR branches (best) or participating Correos de Costa Rica. 
  • Inversionistas can only apply at the DGME (Immigration) offices.
  • Vinculos can apply at all DGME offices (best) or participating BCR branches.

When to apply for renewal:

  • 90 days prior to the expiry date on your current card. (Strongly advised).

Requirements for a first, second or multiple time renewal by category

Pensionado

(By appointment – see below)

  • Current passport.  
  • Expiring (current) DIMEX card.
  • TYPED out on an 8.5 x 11” white sheet of paper: The names of your parents as they appear on your birth certificate.
  • TYPED out on an 8.5 x 11” white sheet of paper: Your email address.
  • Informed Consent Form: Filled out but only signed in front of the staffer.
  • CONSTANCIA CONSENTIMIENTO INFORMADO DIMEX 2022 versión N°3 al 3-02-2023. (Sample below).
  • Receipts from BCR for the required government fees. (USD 123 equivalent in CRC – paid to BCR account # 242480-0 and must include the applicant’s name as spelled out on your DIMEX. (USD 98 for minors). Payments must be made in cash or BCR credit/debit cards only.
  • CRC 7,910 in cash if the appointment is at the Correos De Costa Rica.
  • Your most recent CAJA payment receipt. (Needs to be current).
  • Prove that you still qualify for the specific residency category you hold.  

Based on the letter of the law, this means:

Recently issued proof of pension of over USD 1K/Month, fully authenticated and officially translated.

For married couples: Proof you are still married with a recent, fully authenticated extract of your marriage certificate. 

Don’t panic just yet.

In actual practice, here’s what might be asked for:(based on my recent visits to four different BCR branches that do renewals – PLUS – feedback from recent client renewal experiences).

  1. photocopy of the Resolution issued at the time of your initial approval. 
  2. photocopy of the proof of pension statement submitted at the time of the original application submission complete with Apostille, – or – if from Canada – Global Affairs stamp, CR consulate authentication, Foreign Affairs (Casa Amarilla) final authentication, and official translations that were done here in Costa Rica.
  3. photocopy of the Marriage Certificate submitted at the time of your original application for residency, complete with authentications and official translations – OR – a recent copy of the marriage registration from the Costa Rica Registro Civil. (Obtained from any local Registro Civil offices).
  4. A copy of your last 3 Costa Rica bank statements showing deposits of your pension payments. (Therefore, send those payments to your Costa Rica bank. Or at least for the three months prior to your renewal application.)

In most client experiences, items 1, 2, or 3 above were never requested.

Spouse or dependent family member of a Pensionado

(By appointment – see below)

  • Current passport.  
  • Expiring (current) DIMEX card.
  • TYPED out on an 8.5 x 11” white sheet of paper: The names of your parents as they appear on your birth certificate.
  • TYPED out on an 8.5 x 11” white sheet of paper: Your email address.
  • Informed Consent Form: Filled out but not signed until in front of the staffer.
  • CONSTANCIA CONSENTIMIENTO INFORMADO DIMEX 2022 versión N°3 al 3-02-2023. (Sample below).
  • Receipts from BCR for the required government fees. (USD 123 equivalent in CRC – paid to BCR account # 242480-0 and must include the applicant’s name as spelled out on your DIMEX. (USD 98 for minors). Payments must be made in cash or BCR credit/debit cards only.
  • CRC 7,910 in cash if the appointment is at the Correos De Costa Rica.
  • Proof that your spouse is current with CAJA. Be sure that your family enrollment in CAJA is also in order. If in doubt, visit your nearest CAJA Ebais (Clinic) and double-check.
  • Prove that you still qualify for the specific residency category you hold.  
  • See above points 1,2, 3 & 4.


Renstista

(By appointment – see below)

  • Current passport.  
  • Expiring (current) DIMEX card.
  • TYPED out on an 8.5 x 11” white sheet of paper: The names of your parents as they appear on your birth certificate.
  • TYPED out on an 8.5 x 11” white sheet of paper: Your email address.
  • Informed Consent Form: Filled out but not signed until in front of the staffer.
  • CONSTANCIA CONSENTIMIENTO INFORMADO DIMEX 2022 versión N°3 al 3-02-2023. (Sample below).
  • Receipts from BCR for the required government fees. (USD 123 equivalent in CRC – paid to BCR account # 242480-0 and must include the applicant’s name as spelled out on your DIMEX. (USD 98 for minors). Payments are made in cash or BCR credit/debit cards only.
  • CRC 7,910 in cash if the appointment is at the Correos De Costa Rica.
  • Your most recent CAJA payment receipt. (Needs to be current).
  • Prove that you still qualify for the specific residency category you hold.  

By the letter of the law, that means providing a new proof of income bank letter issued within the past six months, duly authenticated, and officially translated. 

In actual practice, depending on the venue of renewal, here is what might be requested:

  1. Copies of the most recent four months of your Costa Rican bank statements, each month showing an opening balance of a minimum of USD 2,5K.
  2.  A photocopy of the Resolution issued at the time of your initial approval. 
  3. photocopy of the proof of income Bank Letter submitted at the time of the original application submission complete with Apostille, – or – if from Canada – Global Affairs stamp, CR consulate authentication, Foreign Affairs (Casa Amarilla) final authentication, and official (done here in Costa Rica) translations.
  4. photocopy of the Marriage Certificate submitted at the time of your original application for residency, complete with authentications and official translations – OR – a recent copy of the marriage registration from the Costa Rica Registro Civil. (Obtained from any local Registro Civil offices).

Spouse or Dependent Family Member of a Renstista

(By appointment – see below)

  • Current passport.  
  • Expiring (current) DIMEX card.
  • TYPED out on an 8.5 x 11” white sheet of paper: The names of your parents as they appear on your birth certificate.
  • TYPED out on an 8.5 x 11” white sheet of paper: Your email address.
  • Informed Consent Form: Filled out but not signed until in front of the staffer.
  •          CONSTANCIA CONSENTIMIENTO INFORMADO DIMEX 2022 versión N°3 al 3-02-2023. (Sample below).
  • Receipts from BCR for the required government fees. (USD 123 equivalent in CRC – paid to BCR account # 242480-0 and must include the applicant’s name as spelled out on your DIMEX. (USD 98 for minors). Payments are made in cash or BCR credit/debit cards only
  • CRC 7,910 in cash if the appointment is at the Correos De Costa Rica.
  • Proof that your (Renstista) spouse is current with CAJA. Be sure that your family enrollment in CAJA is also in order. If in doubt, visit your nearest CAJA Ebais (Clinic) and double-check.
  • Prove that you still qualify for the specific residency category you hold. 

See notes 1, 2, 3 and 4 above as to what might be requested.



Inversionista

(Done only at the DGME offices. (By appointment – see below))

  • Current passport.  
  • Expiring (current) DIMEX card.
  • Proof that you remain current with CAJA.
  • TYPED out on an 8.5 x 11” white sheet of paper: The names of your parents as they appear on your birth certificate.
  • TYPED out on an 8.5 x 11” white sheet of paper: Your email address.
  • Informed Consent Form: Filled out but not signed until in front of the staffer.
  • CONSTANCIA CONSENTIMIENTO INFORMADO DIMEX 2022 versión N°3 al 3-02-2023. (Sample below).
  • Receipts from BCR for the required government fees. (USD 123 equivalent in CRC – paid to BCR account # 242480-0 and must include the applicant’s name as spelled out on your DIMEX. (USD 98 for minors). Payments are made in cash or BCR credit/debit cards only.
  • Provide proof that the assets (usually real estate) worth at least $150K are yours. IE: The same evidence of ownership of the assets you submitted to the DGME (Immigration) by which you were approved for Inversionista residency. (Including all taxes on that asset are paid).

Spouse or Dependent Family Member of an Inversionista  

(By appointment at DGME or BCR  – see below)

  • Current passport.  
  • Expiring (current) DIMEX card.
  • TYPED out on an 8.5 x 11” white sheet of paper: The names of your parents as they appear on your birth certificate.
  • TYPED out on an 8.5 x 11” white sheet of paper: Your email address.
  • Informed Consent Form: Filled out but not signed until in front of the staffer.
  • CONSTANCIA CONSENTIMIENTO INFORMADO DIMEX 2022 versión N°3 al 3-02-2023. (Sample below).
  • Receipts from BCR for the required government fees. (USD 123 equivalent in CRC – paid to BCR account # 242480-0 and must include the applicant’s name as spelled out on your DIMEX. (USD 98 for minors). Payments are made in cash or BCR credit/debit cards only.
  • Proof that your (Inversionista) spouse is current with CAJA. Be sure that your family enrollment in CAJA is also in order. If in doubt, visit your nearest CAJA Ebais (Clinic) and double-check.
  • Your Inversionista spouse has complied with the fourth step as outlined above.


Vinculo Foreigner Married to a Costa Rican Citizen

(By appointment at DGME or BCR – see below)

  • DIMEX must be renewed twice at one-year intervals after issuing your first DIMEX.
  • You can switch to Permanent Residency after year 3.
  • If you remained in Costa Rica those entire first two years, you could apply for either Permanent Residency or Citizenship. (At the end of year two). Otherwise, two renewals are required, as outlined in the above first point.
  • Current passport.  
  • Expiring DIMEX card.
  • TYPED out on an 8.5 x 11” white sheet of paper: The names of your parents as they appear on your birth certificate.
  • TYPED out on an 8.5 x 11” white sheet of paper: Your email address.
  • Proof that you and your spouse are current with CAJA. Be sure that your family enrollment in CAJA is also in order. If in doubt, visit your nearest CAJA Ebais (clinic) and double-check.
  • Informed Consent Form: Filled out but not signed until in front of the staffer.
  • CONSTANCIA CONSENTIMIENTO INFORMADO DIMEX 2022 versión N°3 al 3-02-2023. (Sample below).
  • Receipts from BCR for the required government fees. (USD 123 equivalent in CRC – paid to BCR account # 242480-0 and must include the applicant’s name as spelled out on your DIMEX. (USD 98 for minors). Payments are made in cash or BCR credit/debit cards only.
  • Proof of marriage from the Registro Civil not more than two months from the date of issuance (download).
  • In-person interview to audit authenticity of the marriage – or – Affidavit stating the same and brought in only by the foreign spouse (Vinculo DIMEX holder).

Vinculo Foreign Parents of a Costa Rican citizen

(By Appointment DGME offices – see below)

  • Renewal is completed after the first two years since issuing the first DIMEX – or – you can apply for Permanent residency or Citizenship.
  • Current passport.  
  • Expiring (current) DIMEX card.
  • TYPED out on an 8.5 x 11” white sheet of paper: The names of your parents as they appear on your birth certificate.
  • TYPED out on an 8.5 x 11” white sheet of paper: Your email address.
  • Informed Consent Form: Filled out but not signed until in front of the staffer.
  • CONSTANCIA CONSENTIMIENTO INFORMADO DIMEX 2022 versión N°3 al 3-02-2023. (Sample below).
  • Receipts from BCR for the required government fees. (USD 123 equivalent in CRC – paid to BCR account # 242480-0 and must include the applicant’s name as spelled out on your DIMEX. (USD 98 for minors). Payments are made in cash or BCR credit/debit cards only.
  • Proof that you and your family are current with CAJA. Be sure that your family enrollment in CAJA is also in order. If in doubt, visit your nearest CAJA Ebais (Clinic) and double-check.

Replacement of lost or stolen DIMEX cards

  • If you require a duplicate of your DIMEX due to loss or theft, you can only get it replaced at the DGME offices.
  • You must first book an appointment by calling the 1311 (Operated by ICE). You can only reach that number if you are physically in Costa Rica at the time of the call and only by using a Kolbi (ICE) cell phone. Other phones won’t get through to 1311.
  • See below for more appointment booking instructions.

Lost or stolen CEDULA (Citizenship card).

(Different from a DIMEX as explained above).

  • Replaced at the Registro Civil. No O.I.J. report or letter with notary is required.

Permanent DIMEX renewal

(By Appointment – see below)

  • Current passport.  
  • Expiring (current) DIMEX card.
  • TYPED out on an 8.5 x 11” white sheet of paper: The names of your parents as they appear on your birth certificate.
  • TYPED out on an 8.5 x 11” white sheet of paper: Your email address.
  • Informed Consent Form: Filled out but not signed until in front of the staffer.
  • CONSTANCIA CONSENTIMIENTO INFORMADO DIMEX 2022 versión N°3 al 3-02-2023. (Sample below).
  • Receipts from BCR for the required government fees. (USD 123 equivalent in CRC – paid to BCR account # 242480-0 and must include the applicant’s name as spelled out on your DIMEX. (USD 98 for minors). Payments are made in cash or BCR credit/debit cards only.
  • Current with CAJA.
  • CRC 7,910 in cash if the appointment is at the Correos De Costa Rica.
  • Arrive 10 minutes before the appointment time.

Overdue Renewals

(By Appointment – see below)

  • If you have not renewed your DIMEX (residency) card for more than three months past the expiry date shown on your current card, you must submit a justification note authenticated by a lawyer, giving clear, credible reasons why you did not renew it on time. Once past the three months, you can only renew at DGME offices.
  • If it has expired for over a year, in addition to the notarized justification note, you must provide a new criminal background report duly authenticated and translated and only carry out the renewal at DGME offices.
  • If not past the three months past due limits, renewals can be carried out at the DGME offices, BCR, or Correos de Costa Rica.
  • Payments on the day of the appointment are made in cash or BCR credit/debit cards only.
  • The Bank of Costa Rica will charge USD 8.00, payable in CRC equivalent for their banking commission.
  • Correos de Costa Rica charges: CRC 7,910.

APPOINTMENT BOOKING PROCEDURES

At Participating BCR bank branches

(Only in Spanish)

https://www.bancobcr.com/wps/portal/bcr/bancobcr/personas/servicios_personas/punto_pais/cita_para_cedula_de_residencia/

  • Appointments are available in 71 BCR offices (see list here ).
  • To request the renewal of your DIMEX (residency) card through the BCR, you must request an appointment through 800-BRCCITA (227-2482). Answered with a lengthy Spanish menu of options. 
  • The BCR Call Center will indicate the requirements that must be presented according to your residency category and the fees to be paid at the time of your appointment. Fees are paid in colones at the exchange rate on the day of payment.
  • The Bank of Costa Rica (BCR) captures all your necessary data. Through this collection, the information is validated by the General Directorate of Migration and Immigration (DGME), which prints the DIMEX (residency) card and sends it by mail to the Correos de Costa Rica that the cardholder indicates at the time of renewal. 
  • The Correos de Costa Rica is responsible for delivering it to the DIMEX card holder at the postal branch selected by that DIMEX card holder within 22 business days* once the procedure has been completed at the Bank. (Not happening). The DIMEX cardholder has 30 days to retrieve the card in person and with proper I.D. This cannot be delegated.

Booking At Participating Correos de Costa Rica

(Post office) Locations

(Proceed to the VEZ windows for service.)

https://correos.go.cr/cedula-residencia/

“Benefits” points on the Correos de CR site:

•      When you process your DIMEX through the VES windows, you avoid going to the DGME Immigration offices. 

Response: This is an excellent benefit if you live in distant rural areas. But BCR branches are better. 

For seniors, DGME offices are optimal depending on distances from your domicile.

•      Your document travels with priority, reaching its destination quickly. 

Accurate – once the DGME finally prints and sends your card out. 

•      You can track your document at all times. 

It’s not happening with consistency at Correos locations. Hit and miss.

 Also, under the Corroes “Requirements and Rates” section, the instructions are not complete.

See more details in the categories I listed above.


Booking At DGME locations

https://www.migracion.go.cr/Paginas/Portal-de-Citas-Web.aspx

Or call 1311 through a Kolbi (ICE) cell phone. Service is only available in Spanish.

Destination: Door #3

*Delays. Delays. Delays.

“Hey Laura, why is it taking so long for my DIMEX (residency) card to arrive?”

Short Answer:

 A perfect storm of the following:

Producing this new style of DIMEX card is also more involved and, as such, takes longer for each card to be processed. This new initiative comes on the heels of service shutdowns during COVID-19, which created a huge backlog.  

Long Answer: 

Here’s the reason right off the DGME website translated to English with my grammatical corrections and added notes:

 As of January 2, the General Directorate of Migration and Immigration (DGME) will begin the transition process towards a new Immigration Identity Document for Foreigners (DIMEX), which will be through a digital identification in pdf format. It has a QR code containing the person’s non-sensitive information, which can be accessed through an institutional website to verify that the document is authentic and current.​

During the transition process, which will be for two years (Estimated – January 2025), this digital identification will be preceded by a printed DIMEX with security and information features that guarantee confirmation of the identity of the foreign person. This digital version can be stored on a cell phone.

Therefore, the foreign person who requests a DIMEX renewal, duplicate, or first-time issuance must provide a personal email to receive their digital DIMEX.

The current document remains valid until its last day of validity, and it is unnecessary to carry out a renewal before the expiration date. During the transition period, the two DIMEX formats will circulate, and all of them are valid.

Further:

There has been an uptick in new foreigners arriving in Costa Rica since 2021 to escape the polarizing political turmoil in the U.S., Canada, UK, EU, Australia, and China. 

Also, due to commitments to the U.N., Costa Rica is forced to, at the very least, process applications for thousands of refugees from primarily Nicaragua and Venezuela and such places as Haiti. 90% of these applications will be declined. But they all go through the same DGME system and bog it down tremendously. Even though the triage is located up the street from the main DGME offices, much of the paperwork flows through the same system as all other applications for residency.

Action that can be taken for overdue DIMEX deliveries

The digital DIMEX (see image below) has preceded the actual plastic DIMEX card and can be printed out or saved to your cell phone and used in place of the solid plastic DIMEX card until the delayed plastic DIMEX finally shows up.

If you have been waiting for more than 30 business days, visit your nearest Correos De Costa Rica to see if they have received notice of the digital DIMEX. (The Correos de Costa Rica (Post office) you told the DGME to send the DIMEX card to).

As of this writing (September 2023), these DIMEX cards arrive in 60, 90, and 120 days. This is causing havoc with banking and other legal matters for DIMEX cardholders. Constant contact with the Correos de CR may yield at least the digital version of the DIMEX with a QR code for use while you await the actual plastic DIMEX.

After waiting 30 days, the best solution is to go to door #3 at the main offices of the DGME in LaUruca (San Jose), where you will walk out with your card within two hours. 

DOOR #3 at the DGME offices in LaUruca (San Jose)

It is important to understand that the requirements, costs, and validity of the DIMEX (residency) card remain unchanged.  

Only the physical appearance and content have changed.

This change is part of the process of modernization and digitalization of institutional services, responding to a digital transformation in a safe and agile way. This evolution is done through using intelligent devices and resources, with secure digital systems against cyber threats, and managing to avoid hacking and vulnerable situations when verifying the identity of foreigners. 

The General Directorate of Migration (DGME) reserves the right to request additional requirements to continue with the process in case it is deemed necessary at the time of validation of the information by that entity.

To avoid such a possibility, be extra careful to be accurate and honest. “T’s” crossed. “I’s” dotted.

Informed Consent Form

(Will be emailed to you after you book your appointment).

Frequently asked questions

Are the renewal requirements still the same?

Yes.         

  • ​Identification documents such as expired DIMEX, passport, or license. (See above). 
  • Proof of CAJA enrollment and current on your monthly payments.
  • Receipts for the required government fee payments. (From BCR).
  • Additional documents to your immigration category, if applicable. (See above).


Will I have to pay additional if I do the process at BCR or Correos?        

Yes. Modest service charges apply. 

Will they assist me at Immigration if I show up without an appointment?

Not if you are under age 65. By appointment only.

That includes spouses of those aged 65 or older. They go by the youngest of the two of you. 

If you are 65 or older, you do not need an appointment unless you are married to a younger spouse.

It is limited to 27 seniors per day. 

Served between 7:20 and 9:30 a.m., Monday to Friday. (Get there by 7 am).

Thursdays are the best days to go.

How do I book an appointment at the DGME (Immigration) offices or the nearest participating Correos De Costa Rica?

Book by calling the 1311 Call Center, which is open Monday to Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m​. (Not available on Sundays).

When you call 1311, you must physically be located in Costa Rica and only use a Kolbi (ICE) cell phone. (ICE operates the Call Center).

For appointments at the Banco de Costa Rica:

800 BCR appointment (800-2272 482): Monday-Friday: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm Saturdays: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Why are these appointments so far out from the time of my call?

  1. Huge backlog caused by service shutdowns during COVID.
  2. Implementation of a comprehensive new system of modernization.
  3. Increased density of the data processed per card. 
  4. Less than optimal hardware and software. 
  5. Budget constraints. 
  6. Supply chain issues.
  7. Staff turnover, training of newbies. 

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