Working remotely from the beach has always been a possibility in Costa Rica but now it’s becoming more convenient. Previously you could stay in Costa Rica as long as your money held out AND you did a border run to renew your tourist visa at least every 90 days.
Now, if you have income from another country a full year “digital nomad” visa for remote work is available.
Basically the only requirements are proof of minimum stable income of $US3,000 per month ($4,000 for a family) for the previous year and proof of health insurance for the year you’re applying for. There will also be a significant fee for the visa but the amount is yet to be determined and it’s not clear whether it’s an application fee or only charged once you are granted admission.
The visa became law in October of 2021 but it took some time to work out the kinks and they start processing visas in July of 2022. There are a couple of other requirements listed below that may prove difficult for some but since the process is fairly simple and an acceptance or denial is guaranteed in two weeks the easiest way to find out if you qualify is probably to simply apply.
The law was written with a steady paycheck in mind. The law does allow for proof by bank statement vs paycheck but many (most?) digital nomads have variable income and depending on when projects pay out might have $10k, $0 and $8k income for a three month period. That would be triple the required amount but the way the law is written would not qualify.
“Stable” may prove problematic as well since qualifying workers may not have a long term contract or position within a corporation.
Another technicality that may cause some techno expats difficulty is the requirement to prove a year of prepaid health insurance. Most coverage is paid monthly, or quarterly at most.
The main benefit of the new visa is eliminating the “border runs” that were previously required to maintain perpetual tourist status. Foreign drivers license validity is extended along with the permission to remain.
The other specific benefits listed in the law were always informally available but it now spells out that you can bring your computer and other work tools duty free, open a bank account and that your foreign income will not be subject to local income tax.
The visa can be extended to a second year as long as the holder has spent at least 180 days of the first year in Costa Rica.
The first step is to fill out the application form on the link above. In two weeks or less your application will be accepted or rejected. Once your application is accepted you may enter Costa Rica as a provisional digital nomad. Once you are in Costa Rica you have 90 days to obtain your “migratory accreditation” and make your status official for one year.
The accreditation requires an in person appointment with an immigration official in San Jose (details provided when you’re accepted) where you’ll submit your pay stubs, bank statements and proof of insurance, fingerprints and a photo. All documents must be translated into Spanish.
The General Migration and Immigration No 10008 “Law to Attract Workers and Remote Providers of International Services,” legislation was approved over a year ago.