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Change in Temporary Costa Rican residency

There have been several changes in the temporary Costa Rican residency policy and law that affect the financial wellbeing of long-term visitors. This includes those visitors applying for one of the three immigrant resident categories.

Just before our arrival, Immigration made changes in the temporary Costa Rican residency. We received the news when we went to visit our “domestic” lawyer (we also have an “immigration” lawyer).

This did not surprise us too much.

Allow me to summarize the two changes in the temporary Costa Rican residency that have the most impact:

1. Tourist Visa

A tourist visa and along with it, your home country’s driver’s license is valid for 90 days. If you plan to buy or lease a car for longer than 90 days you must leave the country. Then you get another 90-day visa stamped upon re-entry into Costa Rica. This will re-validate your driver’s license.

Before, if you applied for residency status within that first 90-day window, your residency application took precedence over the visa requirement. Now your driver’s license would remain valid without ever having to leave the country.

Change in Temporary Costa Rican residency


The other thing that is married to the visa and driver’s license is your Costa Rican automobile liability insurance. So, if you don’t leave every 90 days, your permission to drive (your driver’s license) AND your auto insurance will be voided until your visa is renewed.

You really don’t want that to happen. Costa Rica is very, very intolerant of driving without a license and/or insurance. There are numerous and frequent random traffic police road stops set up to make certain everything is in order.

Right now visas and residency applications don’t match up and it sounds like maybe one ministry here isn’t talking to the other.


Don’t get caught without or are in an accident without your driver’s license and insurance. The consequences can and do involve nasty consequences. Don’t mess with a bad outcome. However, if you’ve applied for residency and only use taxis and public transportation you have no problem.

Change in Temporary Costa Rican residency

2. Bank Account

Banks do not allow non-residents to have a regular bank account any longer. There are exceptions and we are exploring them now. However, you can imagine what a shocker that was for us upon arrival and how it might tend to rain on your parade. You can work around it if you’ve anticipated the unexpected.  Ask your attorney or realtor to assist when needed.

I hope this blog about the temporary Costa Rican residency policy helps you not get caught in surprise. You can also read in another blog how I got my temporary Dimex residency card.

The Author

The author of this blog, Ticonuevo, is a US expat who moved to Costa Rica. Ticonuevo and his wife used the services of GoDutch Realty to purchase a property in Costa Rica. Ticonuevo describes his own experiences of taking the step of moving to Costa Rica and getting a new life started in his blogs.

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