Some websites, “barstool advisors”, well intentioned friends, and even embassy staff can dispense incorrect information about these issues.
Laura can also answer these common questions about the following highly misunderstood subjects:
(Retiree / Pensioner)
(Least intrusive method to apply)
Anyone receiving a permanent pension from a government or private company or institution. The required documentation must show that the income source is for life. For many, this would be Social Security in the U.S., or CPP and OAS in Canada and similar in the EU of at least USD 1,000 per month. Authenticated lifetime annuities can also be used.
Only the principal applicant needs to provide proof of pension income. Same-gender unions with official marriage certificates are now also recognized by Costa Rica Immigration.
Q: Is this a temporary or permanent residency?
A: Temporary for 2 years with conditions. Renewable every two years after that. By year 3, applicants are eligible to apply for conditions-free Permanent Residency.
Q: How many days per year must I reside in Costa Rica with this type of residency?
A: 1 day. (That erroneous four-months/year “rule” persists. Ignore it. Not true. Never has been.)
Q: Am I allowed to stay past my 90-day visa once my application is submitted and I wait to be approved?
A: Yes. You will be provided an Expediente with case # that acts as proof of submission of your application(s). It allows you to stay in Costa Rica indefinitely or come and go as you want. However, this benefit does not apply to the validity of foreign drivers’ licenses. Those remain linked to a current 90-day entry visa stamp.)
Q: Do I need a return (outward bound) ticket when entering Costa Rica during my wait to approval?
A: Yes. But not after you are approved and receive residency.
At land border crossings, especially at Nicaragua, outward-bound tickets are not necessarily asked for when returning to Costa Rica. If they are, you can easily purchase an outward-bound bus ticket right there at the border. However, when flying into Costa Rica, ALL airlines must insist on seeing your outward-bound/return ticket out of Costa Rica before allowing you to board a flight into Costa Rica. For more detail, always refer to the official Costa Rica Tourism webpage.
Q: Will I need to do border runs to maintain my foreign driver’s license while awaiting approval?
A: Unfortunately, yes. But not a problem with the aforementioned Expediente. (Proof of residency application submission.) Once you receive residency, you may obtain a Costa Rica drivers’ license. No more border runs.
Q: Am I allowed to work in Costa Rica?
A: No. But you may own and invest in any business enterprise. (See first question above. Once you get your Permanent Residency, you can earn a wage. There are exceptions.)
Q: Am I covered by Costa Rica public health (CAJA) while I await approval?
A: No. You must join and pay into CAJA after you are approved. Both you and your spouse will be covered then. You must have adequate private health care to remain prepared for any health issue while in Costa Rica or rely on government plans from your country of origin while awaiting approval.
READY TO SEE IF YOU QUALIFY FOR A RESIDENCY CARD?