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Costa Rica Approves A New Immigration Law

by Super User




Costa Rica Approves a New Immigration Law. 

 Law 8764 comes into effect on March 1, 2010.


The Costa Rica Legislature recently approved a new immigration law which will become effective as of March 1, 2010.    How will this new law affect those wanting to retire or invest in Costa Rica.   For the two most popular residency categores, Pensionado and Rentista there are no drastic changes.   The Pensionado and Rentista program has now been in effect continuously for 38 years.   A clear signal that the government of Costa Rica believes in the program and is still committed to it.

Let’s take a look at the existing law and compare it with the changes in the new law (8764).


1.   Pensionado and Rentista Residency

If you are planning to retire in Costa Rica and you have a pension or investment income then you may qualify for either RENTISTA RESIDENCY or PENSION RESIDENCY.  This program is governed by a New Immigration Law which confers residency status as follows:

(1) PENSION BASED RESIDENCY [Pensionado]. The Pensionado (Retiree) applicant must demonstrate a permanent fixed income from a pension or similar retirement income of at least US$600 per month. The typical applicant in this category has a government, private sector pension or social security retirement benefits.

Note:  Under article 81 of the new immigration law 8764 effective March 1, 2010 the amount of retirement income required to qualify for Pensionado Resident status will be US$1,000 per month.

(2) INVESTMENT INCOME BASED RESIDENCY [Rentista]. The Rentista applicant must demonstrate a permanent fixed income of at least US$1,000 per month for a single individual.  If the applicant is applying jointly with a spouse then the income demonstrated must be US$2,000 per month. Generally, those who seek the Rentista category do not have a pension source and instead have investment income. To apply for this category it is necessary to provide proof of the investment and that it will generate requisite amount per month which is required under this program. As such the applicant must provide a letter from their bank or financial institution where your funds are deposited certifying the existence of that income. It is not required that the funds be held in Costa Rica. The letter can be issued by international banks as well as Costa Rican banks.  

The ideal letter issued by the financial institution should state that the recipient will receive at least US$2,000 per month in Costa Rica in a stable and permanent manner for at least five years.

Note:  Under article 82 of the new immigration law 8764 effective March 1, 2010 the amount of investment income required to qualify will be US$2,500 per month.  Another change in the new law is that an applicant may obtain status for their spouse and child dependents with the $2,500 per month qualification.  

In both cases, Pensionado and Rentista the beneficiaries must comply with the following:

  • Prove on an annual basis that the required funds were deposited in Costa Rica and exchanged into local currency.
  • Must reside a minimum of 6 (six) months in the country.

2.  The Mandatory Insurance Requirement

The new law introduces a requirement that all residency holders must provide proof at the time of renewal of their status that they have contributed  into the Costa Rican Social Security and Medical System (C.C.S.S.).  In the past Costa Rica has provided medical care to citizens and foreigners who could not afford it for free.   This is an attempt to offset some of those costs by making every immigration resident contribute to the system. Generally the cost for the voluntary policy is quite low so this should not be a large financial burden for the residency applicant.



Under the current law if you marry a Costa Rica citizen you are eligible for Permanent Residency which then puts you on an expedited track for full citizenship.    This created numerous abuses and thousands of false marriages have occurred with the sole purpose of obtaining permanent residency.  Under the new law the spouse of a Costa Rica citizen will be given Temporary immigration status for one year and renewable for additional one year periods so long as the immigration authorities do not determine that the marriage is a sham.  After 3 years of marriage and with Temporary Residency status then the spouse may apply for Permanent Residency


Copyright 2009.  This article is written by Roger A. Petersen and may not be copied or reproduced in any manner without the express written consent of the copyright holder


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