Since many expats are opting to live in rural areas of Costa Rica the banking options in many of those rural areas are limited. The best options are the national banks which are Banco Nacional de Costa Rica or Banco de Costa Rica.
They both have a large presence and many branches throughout Costa Rica.
I had heard rumors from expats that Banco Nacional de Costa Rica would not open a bank account for non-residency holders. I decided to explore this a bit further by contacting the customer service department at Banco Nacional de Costa Rica.
My specific question to the bank was – Do you open personal bank accounts for non-residency holders. Their answer was yes.
Their exact response was “…regarding your request for information we hereby inform you that yes, a foreigner with a passport may request the opening of a bank account so long as the passport is current and the immigration status is not expired”
Banco Nacional indicated that they can open accounts for foreigners with a tourist status. They must be legal in the country meaning that the visa entry stamp in your passport must be currently valid. They would also like to see that you have some tie to the country such as a home, a business or investment that you have made in Costa Rica.
In addition to that Banco Nacional requires the foreign tourist to provide a banking or commercial reference. This reference letter must be issued by a person or company that is a customer of Banco Nacional.
The applicant will also need income verification. Provide the bank some documentation that documents your source of income. It can be an investment account, a pay stub, tax return. Any document that will show where your funds are coming from.
A utility bill must also be provided. This utility bill should be of the place where you are residing in Costa Rica. If the utility bill is not in the name of the applicant they will need to demonstrate the relationship i.e. landlord-tenant , relative etc..