Home Costa Rica Legal TopicsImmigration and Residency Whatever happened to the Law to Attract Investors and Retirees and the Digital Nomad Law ?

Whatever happened to the Law to Attract Investors and Retirees and the Digital Nomad Law ?

by rpetersen

Were the Law to Attract Investors and Retirees and the Digital Nomad Law ever passed ?

Yes, both of these were passed into law by the Costa Rica Legislature with the goal of revitalizing the tourism sector of the economy. The Law to Attract Investors and Retirees is law number 9996 published on July 14, 2021 and the Digital Nomad Law is law number 10008 published on September 1, 2021.  In this article I will  answer that question for you based upon the information and facts that are available.

Who is responsible for their implementation?

In both of these laws the Legislature delegated the implementation to the Department of Immigration and gave them three months to issue the regulations and implement the law.  That time has come and gone and nothing is in place.   It seems that if the President was truly interested in the swift implementation of the law, he would be pressuring the Department of Immigration which is part of the Executive branch to get it done. 

What is going on?

The reality that might be in play here is that internally in the Department of Immigration the powers that be were opposed to the Law to Attract Investors and Retirees.  I mention that based upon my review of the actual Legislative record, specifically the report sent to the Legislature under reference number AG-1823-10-2020 ABM of the 22nd of October 2020 where the Department of Immigration set forth their proposed wording to the law.  The technical recommendation of the Department of Immigration can be summarized as follows:

(1)  That the Pensionado category qualification amount be increased from $1,000 per month to $5,000 per month. (2) That the amount required to qualify for the Rentista category be increased from $2,500 to $5,000. (3) That the amount to qualify for investor category be increased to US$300,000 and not dropped to US$150,000. (4) They were opposed to any kind of tax breaks for Pensionados or Rentistas and only a household exemption for investors. (5) As to the requirement in the law that the Department of Immigration implement a specialized window at immigration for Investors, Rentistas, Retiree here is their response was that they don’t have the staff to do so, here is the statement: 

“Currently, in view of the governmental provisions on public employment, the Department of Immigration does not have the operational capacity to have an exclusive window specialized in the categories regulated by the law. Acting in this manner would entail a detriment in the quality of service for the rest of the foreigners in different immigration categories. It is well known that the shortage of personnel affects all governmental institutions and this General Directorate is no exception, at present the human resources available to assume all the functions assigned by the legislator to this entity are insufficient, in this sense, this Administration cannot assume preferential treatment for these migratory categories, therefore it is requested to evaluate this provision within the framework of the operational reality of this institution.”

So clearly, from the Legislative record the technical recommendations made by the Department of Immigration to the Legislature were ignored since the law did not adopt any of their proposals.  Now, the law is approved by the legislature and to implement it requires the same agency, Department of Immigration , that opposed it.  From this end it looks like they might be purposefully dragging their feet.

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wmpape1@gmail.com January 16, 2022 - 11:23 am

Was he a reluctant supporter of the law and just as happy to see it tied up in the bureaucracy? Maybe he thinks the economy doesn’t need the stimulus anymore?

rpetersen January 22, 2022 - 10:34 am

I think it is just the internal bureaucracy at the Department of Immigration that is slowing down the implementation. We also have elections in February of 2022 so all politicians currently focused on the elections.

wmpape1@gmail.com February 20, 2023 - 4:58 pm

Hello again! I have read that the regulations were finally approved. True? Given the reluctance of the bureaucracy, are there minefields to avoid 🙂

JC CUBERO February 2, 2022 - 2:48 pm

Such a great opportunity for Costa Rica’s economy and yet, they’re dragging their feet?… Now in the midst of the electoral times, hopefully whoever gets elected will push forward with this project/law. And the department of immigration commits to it.

rpetersen February 17, 2022 - 8:45 am

Thank you for your comment. Yes, Immigration is certainly dragging their feet with those regulations despite congressional pressure to get both those laws in place. Now we have a new congress and are waiting for a Presidential run off to determine who will govern Costa Rica and what policies they will prioritize.

JC CUBERO May 5, 2022 - 8:30 pm

RPETERSEN, Hi! What’s the latest status of the #9996 law? Have you heard any new information regarding the actions supposedly taking effect?

DaleCooper April 12, 2022 - 10:14 am

Are there new developments regarding the implementation of the law under the new government?
It’s not as if it’s gonna get cancelled, is it?

aliciastvictor September 17, 2022 - 7:41 am

Any updates? Just read a post from a lady on a forum who said her lawyer informed her that it would be regulated by the end of the year. Any truth in that?

rpetersen September 17, 2022 - 9:45 am

Thank you for your question. This law was passed in the previous legislature and inherited by the new President who took office in May 2022. The regulations required to implement the law must be approved by the new President. My understanding is that they are reviewing the law so I would expect some sort of communication either positive or negative by the end of the year. As soon as we have more information I will post updates on the site.

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