Costa Rica Residency Issues

Will new visa fines stop perpetual tourism in Costa Rica?


Should you worry about having to pay $100 visa fine per month or not?In 2011, a new article of the immigration law was approved and came in effect on August 1st, 2014. This article fines tourists $100 per month after their tourist visa expires. Those who cannot pay or are unwilling to do so, will not be allowed back into the country for three times the length they overstayed on their tourist visa.

Thousands of foreigners from the US, Canada, Europe and elsewhere live in Costa Rica as a perpetual tourist. I imagine the government doesn’t know either how many people live like that in Costa Rica. Many are snowbirds and rent short term and others just live here long term and leave the country every three months to renew their tourist visa.

Quite a few perpetual tourists even own property in Costa Rica or have a business here but have never bothered getting their legal residency or did not apply for some reason. Many do not know they can apply for legal residency if their property is appraised in the municipality for at least $200,000 and  do not have to worry about leaving the country every 90 days.

How to obtain your Costa Rica driver's license when having a residency ID


How to obtain your Costarican driver's license

Nearly all obstacles to our residency in Costa Rica are in the rear-view mirror except for the matter of getting our Costa Rican driver’s licenses. If you have a current/valid driver’s license from your home state or province, this should be one of the easiest items to tick off your list, but Costa Rica’s bureaucracy has one more little gotcha’ in store.
It’s probably another case of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing. The latest policy in effect at COSEVI, Costa Rica’s department of motor vehicles, states that Costa Rican driver’s licenses cannot be issued until one has their cedula de residencia and their 90-day entry visa has expired.
There is no logical reason, I can see, behind making you wait until, at least, the 91st day before allowing you to get your license.

How Ticonuevo got his Dimex residency card in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Dimex Residency CardOur “moving-to-Costa-Rica” travails are pretty much behind us. Our recent focus has been getting our DIMEX residency cards (cedulas de residencias) making us official full-time retired residents of Costa Rica. It was the biggest item and the one that has also taken the longest, has just been completed.

It has taken far longer than we planned to make this a reality. Since I covered some of this more than a year ago, I’ll recap the “before” and “during” highlights for you here.

We were referred to an immigration lawyer and had our first appointment to see her the day after we arrived at the end of February 2013. Our lawyer presented all of the required apostiled documents and copies of other docs shortly thereafter to Costa Rican immigration and we were approved for the process of being granted “pensionado” residency status, being given an in-process letter and number in May 2013.

My 90 day perpetual tourist visa stamp for Costa Rica


My 90 day perpetual tourist visa stamp for Costa Rica Our 90-day visa was expiring and we needed to leave Costa Rica and re-enter to re-new our visa in order to keep our U.S. driver’s license and Costa Rican driver’s insurance in force. We couldn’t afford the time and expense to fly out to some airport in the States. And other than the visa issue, we had no pressing reason to go there in the first place.

As I said last week, Costa Rica’s only bordering nations, Panama and Nicaragua, are the closest exit points. You can fly, take a bus, take a tour bus (complete with lodging and meals) or get yourself to the border and either walk across or take a water taxi at a number of border crossings. In most cases, a trip to Nicaragua will be far less expensive in time and money. At the moment, it may also be much less risky than heading southeast to Panama due issues some folks have experienced at the border upon attempting to return to Costa Rica. You can even make an inexpensive mini-vacation out of it if you decide to visit large cities like Managua or Grenada.

Change is in the wind for Costa Rica residency

by guest blogger Ticonuevo

Costa Rica visitor's visaAs of this writing, there have been several changes in Costa Rican policy and law that affect the financial wellbeing of long-term visitors, including those applying for one of the three immigrant resident categories.

The changes happened just before our arrival and we were not informed of them until the first full day we were in Costa Rica when we went visit our “domestic” lawyer (we also have an “immigration” lawyer).

So, we were not unexpectedly quite surprised.

Allow me to summarize the two changes that have the most impact:

Residency in Costa Rica and your IRA or 401K account

by Ivo Henfling

Residency in Costa Rica and your IRA or 401K accountMost people don’t realize they need residency to live in another country but your IRA, 401K can be your solution.

There are many ways to apply for residency in Costa Rica but you have to keep one thing in mind: if a Costarican applies for residency in your home country it’s not going to be so easy.

Look at your options many years before you retire in Costa Rica. If you own a traditional or Roth IRA, you can transfer or rollover the funds to a self-directed plan with no penalties.

Learn more about this way of investment and getting your residency in Costa Rica in place.

New Costa Rica residency card important for banking

by Ivo Henfling

DIMEX residency card is important for bankingThe new Costa Rica residency card is worrying some residents unnecessarily.

Some online newspapers in English,  like AM Costa Rica, Inside Costa Rica and the Tico times reported this week about the new DIMEX residency cards but the information wasn’t clear what a DIMEX residency card is.

For that reason, I have received several emails from my readership, worried about not being able to do any bank business without the new residency card. of course you will also need this residency card to buy Costa Rica real estate although you will be able to do that also with your passport.

A trip to Bocas del Toro in Panama


A residency renewal trip to Bocas de Toro - PanamaIf it is time for your 72 hours out of the country to renew your tourist visa because you are not a legal resident of Costa Rica, Bocas del Toro Panama is a good option.

You cross the border into Panama in Sixaola Costa Rica, a sleepy border town in the Southeast part of the country surrounded by banana plantations.  You can drive your car there, park it, go into Panama, or get a shuttle from one of the popular beach hotels in Cahuita, or Puerto Viejo. 

If you are going to drive it into Panama, make sure that you have spoken with your lawyer, and have all of the necessary paperwork.  The shuttle is about $28 a day, and the parking is $7 a day.  

Crossing the border is easy, as I said; this is a sleepy border town, so getting out of one country into another is a pretty easy process.  Once you haveCrossing the bridge over Sixaola River your passport stamped in Costa Rica, you have to cross a long scary bridge that leads to Panama.