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One of the upsides of the pandemic, if I can really give it any upside, is that a great deal of work has gone remote. Skeptical employers who used to doubt their employees’ productivity outside the office have started to recognize the fact that remote work may even increase productivity.

I no longer work a 9-to-5 so I’m not particularly bound to one place. But I love that many people now have the flexibility to work from different outposts and even different countries. You don’t have to be a freelancer to move around.

The opportunity to work anywhere has expanded so much that many countries are competing to attract remote workers to live and work inside their borders.

Costa Rica is one of the latest countries to jump on the digital nomad trend. The country has scenic nature coupled with great weather all year round. It welcomes foreigners and offers many programs that help them obtain legal residency, whether temporary or permanent.

Read on to learn more about different visa types for Costa Rica, or click on a link below to jump to that section!

Temporary Residence Vs. Permanent Residence in Costa Rica

Most visitors enter Costa Rica with a temporary visa. This can be a tourist visa, one of Costa Rica’s provisional visas, or the new digital nomad visa. And after staying legally in Costa Rica for three years, you can apply for permanent residency.

How can You Obtain Temporary Residency in Costa Rica?

Let’s have a look at several ways you can enter Costa Rica for a temporary stay.

Tourist Visa for Costa Rica

Not all nationalities require a visa to enter Costa Rica for purposes of tourism. Citizens of the United States, Canada, and countries of the European Union don’t need to submit a visa application before their arrival.

If you’re a US national, all you have to do is show up at the airport with a valid passport and a return ticket (either back home or to anywhere else).

You can check the full list of visa requirements for all countries here.

A tourist visa grants you a 90-day stay, after which you must either exit the country or apply for residency.

(COVID-19 Travel Update for Costa Rica Tourist Visas

Due to the measures taken by the Costa Rican government to curb the spread of COVID-19, tourists entering the country have been required to present travel insurance.

However, as of August 1st, 2021, travelers who meet the following requirements can enter Costa Rica without a travel insurance policy:

  1. Travelers who are fully vaccinated with Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The last dose of any of the vaccines must be 14 days prior to entering the country.
  2. Tourists under 18 years old, whether or not they’re vaccinated.

Travel Insurance for Visitors Entering Costa Rica

For unvaccinated travelers, travel insurance is required. Instead of the regular 90-day stay granted upon arrival, you will be granted a stay that is only valid for as long as your travel insurance policy.

Your travel insurance must cover two weeks of quarantine in case you contract COVID-19 during your stay, and it must also cover all medical expenses needed to treat a COVID-19 infection.

You can choose any international policy provided that it meets these requirements:

  1. It must be valid for the duration of your entire stay.
  2. It has to guarantee $50,000 coverage for medical expenses including COVID-19 and $2,000 lodging expenses in case a quarantine is needed.

The travel policy must clearly indicate that it covers COVID-19. You can also purchase a local insurance policy offered by an authorized insurance provider.

If you are transiting through Costa Rica, you will need to purchase insurance with at least five days of coverage.

Costa Rica Health Pass for Temporary Stay

All travelers are required to fill out an electronic health pass in which they have to fit into one of two options.

First: If you’re fully vaccinated, you’ll need to attach your vaccination certificate to your health pass. In order to be accepted, vaccination cards must include the following information:

  1. Your name
  2. The date of each dose
  3. Manufacturer of the vaccine

Second: If you’re not vaccinated or if you have been inoculated with a vaccine that is not on the authorized list, you’ll need to attach a travel policy that meets the requirements mentioned above.

As well, you’ll need to certify that you don’t have any COVID-19 related symptoms like fever, cough, loss of smell or taste, or diarrhea.

You can start filling the form two days before your travel date, and not before—note that you will need to fill it out every time you travel to Costa Rica.

After you complete the form, you will receive a QR code, which you can either print out or have on your mobile phone to show at the airport.

Provisional Visa for Costa Rica

If you wish to stay longer than the 90 days a tourist visa grants, you will have to apply for a provisional visa, which allows you to establish temporary residency. Bear in mind that if you enter the country as a tourist, you will need to pay an additional $200 to change the status of your stay.

Digital Nomad One-Year Visa for Costa Rica

COVID-19 has created a massive shift toward remote work, with the possibility to completely relocate without having to apply for a new job in your destination country. Many countries have jumped on the digital nomad and remote worker bandwagon and have made it an option for foreigners to live and work there as long as they meet some residency requirements—the visa is for Remote Employees or Providers of Remote Services.

Costa Rica has recently joined the list of countries that offer digital nomads temporary residency. The new law grants visas to digital nomads and remote workers, allowing them to stay for one year with the option to extend their stay to two years.

The government of Costa Rica estimates that digital nomads will contribute about $24,000 per year to the country’s economy. The move aims to refresh the economy and provide more jobs within its borders.

“The digital nomad utilizes services, consumes food, makes purchases, utilizes transportation and hires people. All of this generates more employment and growth in the country,” President Carlos Alvarado said in a statement.

Costa Rica’s digital nomad visa is fairly new. The requirements and benefits are outlined below, but it’s expected that the government will add more benefits to attract more remote workers and remote employers.

What are the Benefits of Costa Rica’s Digital Nomad Visa?

The Costa Rica digital nomad visa allows you to work and live in Costa Rica for one year, which you can extend to two years (as long as you’ve stayed in the country for at least 180 days). You’ll also be able to drive around the country using your own country’s driver’s license.

Further benefits include income tax exemption during your stay, exemption of import taxes for computers or other items needed to carry out your job while you’re in Costa Rica, and the ability to open a savings account in the country.

How do I Get a Digital Nomad Visa for Costa Rica?

The new law requires proof of no less than $3,000 monthly income for the past year, with continued employment going forward. If you’re traveling with your family, the combined income must be at least $4,000 per month.

You must have proof of private health insurance for you (and your family, if they’re coming with you) for the entire length of stay in Costa Rica. You also must pay for the visa application as a non-resident remote worker or service provider.

Costa Rica Digital Nomad Visa Taxes

Holders of the new digital nomad visa are exempt from Costa Rican income tax. Any imported equipment you need to get your work done in Costa Rica is also exempted from import tax.

Costa Rica Provisional Visa for Students, Volunteers, Academics, and Researchers

Costa Rica has a special category of provisional visas that applies to students, volunteers, academics, and researchers. If you fit into one of these categories, you can apply for residency at your nearest consulate.

You’ll need to fill an application for a provisional visa under the special category of student, volunteer, academic, or researcher. Your application will ask for the following:

  1. Personal details, including full name, nationality, passport number, current address, occupation, and date and place of birth
  2. An address where you plan to stay in Costa Rica

Along with your application, you’ll need to attach the following documents:

  1. If you’re applying as a student, volunteer, academic, or researcher, you’ll need to provide an acceptance letter from the institution with which you’ll be associated
  2. Provide proof of funds for the duration of your stay
  3. A recent and duly apostilled birth certificate, no older than three months
  4. A background check with an issuance date that does not exceed four months at the time of submission—the certificate must be certified by NCIC National Crime Information Center, interstate identification index or triple III
  5. Your passport, which should be valid for at least six months
  6. Three passport-size photos

Once you submit the form with all the required documents, your provisional visa should be issued. The final step of the process is when you reach Costa Rica, where you must submit the documents for your residence permit to the immigration office.

The other options to obtain temporary residency in Costa Rica are based on providing proof of stable financial resources—this helps to prove that, given residency in Costa Rica, you’ll be able to contribute to the country’s economy.

Costa Rica Provisional Visa for Rentiers

You can qualify for temporary residence in Costa Rica if you can prove that you have a stable and permanent rental or investment income of no less than $2,500 per month for at least the next two years.

Fill in an application for a residency permit that states the reason for applying. Along with your application, you will need to submit the following documents:

  1. A recent document (not older than three months) proving that for the duration of two years, you will receive a steady income that is no less than $2,500 per month from your rental or investment property
  2. A recent and duly apostilled birth certificate, no older than three months
  3. A background check with an issuance date that does not exceed four months at the time of submission—the certificate must be certified by NCIC National Crime Information Center, interstate identification index or triple III
  4. Your passport, which should be valid for at least six months
  5. Three passport-size photos

Once the form is submitted, your provisional visa will be issued which will allow you to enter Costa Rica legally and submit the documents for your residency to the immigration office.

Costa Rica Provisional Visa for Retirees

Pensioners and retirees can also apply for temporary residence in Costa Rica—all you will have to do is provide evidence that you have a continued retirement income of at least $1,000 per month.

As with other forms of temporary residence, you are required to provide the following documents:

  1.  A recent document (not older than three months) proving that you have a permanent pension or retirement income of no less than $1,000 per month
  2. A recent and duly apostilled birth certificate, no older than three months
  3. A background check with an issuance date that does not exceed four months at the time of submission—the certificate must be certified by NCIC National Crime Information Center, interstate identification index or triple III
  4. Your passport, which should be valid for at least six months
  5. Three passport-size photos

Once the form is submitted, your provisional visa will be issued, which will allow you to enter Costa Rica legally and submit the documents for your residency to the immigration office.

Costa Rica Temporary Residence for Investors

To qualify for the Costa Rica investment visa category, you have to invest at least $200,000 in real estate or a business in Costa Rica. Under this category, you cannot work as an employee in Costa Rica and must stay in the country for at least one day per year.

Benefits of temporary residence for investors include a renewable two-year temporary residence, and ability to include your spouse and children under your residency.

How to Apply for Permanent Residence in Costa Rica

Generally once you’ve been in Costa Rica for at least three years under a temporary residence option, you’ll be able to apply for permanent residency. You also qualify for permanent residency if you have a close family tie to a person who is a Costa Rican national.

Provisional Visa for Those with Close Family Ties to a Costa Rican National

If you have a close family member who is a Costa Rican national, you can apply for permanent residency. This visa category applies only to parents and children under the age of 18 (or above if they’re disabled).

Required documents include:

  1. An application for a permanent residency visa
  2. The birth certificate of your Costa Rican relative—the certificate should be issued by the Costa Rican Civil Registry
  3. A recent and duly apostilled birth certificate, no older than three months
  4. A background check with an issuance date that does not exceed four months at the time of submission—the certificate must be certified by NCIC National Crime Information Center, interstate identification index or triple III
  5. Your passport, which should be valid for at least six months
  6. Three passport-size photos

Once the form is submitted, your visa will be issued, which will allow you to enter Costa Rica legally and submit the documents for your permanent residency to the immigration office.

Ready to Travel?

We hope this article helps you decide which Costa Rica visa scheme is best for your travel style and interests! We will keep updating this post as new requirements or visa changes arise.

In the meantime, have a look around the rest of Frayed Passport to start planning your digital nomad lifestyle, and join our community on Facebook!

About the Author

Nahla is a freelance writer with a business background that comes from working in the IT industry for over 12 years. She has a BA in English Literature and writes about a variety of topics. When she’s not working on a project, she’s either reading, working out, or hanging out with good company. She often spends her out-of-town time hiking. You can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.