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Relocating to Costa Rica

There are some things to remember when relocating to Costa Rica, approach things with a positive but aware attitude, just as you would back home! There are laws, restrictions, permits, etc., just like in any other modern society.

When you visit Costa Rica for the first time, you will be taken aback by its breathtaking natural beauty, kind and beautiful people, laid-back vibe, great activities, and experiences.

Once you have decided that Costa Rica is going to be your new home, you should start looking for information regarding the following topics:

  • Immigration;

  • Banking and credit;

  • Car purchases and the “marchamo” (Annual car tax/circulation fee);

  • Real estate;

  • Starting a business.


Immigration Procedures

Immigration may seem complicated, but a representative can do a large majority of the process for you if you find the right company to represent you to the government. Remember, most lawyers are not specialized immigration experts! Many may practice law in general but not concentrate on immigration law. Find a company that specializes in dealing with immigration. The process is entirely different based on the category you select, such as Pensionado (pension/retired), Rentista (fixed income), Investor, Spouse/Parent of a Costa Rican, and more. If you require assistance with your residency status or category selection, please do not hesitate to contact our top-recommended immigration company CRIE, also known as Costa Rica Immigration Experts.


Banking and Credit

As an expat, you are most likely coming with some capital to your name due to selling off your assets in your native country. You can expect little help from your local bank because they usually only work with you once you are at least a permanent resident or a citizen. Opening a bank account should still be possible, but transferring money without your DIMEX (residency) can be difficult. Luckily, companies here have noticed this banking issue and create solutions for you, such as private equity loans. Compared to the rates offered by local banks, these private lending options are competitive once you understand the semantics of loans here. The interest rate on a typical loan can be approximately 12-16% depending on the LTV (loan to value) of the property you are using as collateral vs. the amount you are trying to borrow. We recommend contacting our sister company, GAP Equity Loans, and filling out their loan request to get started!


Car Purchase

Automobile duty prices in Costa Rica have decreased over the past few years, although you will likely find that they are more expensive here than in your home country, especially if you’re from North America. Although there are many vehicle brands to choose from, we recommend buying the brands and models with parts easily accessible in Costa Rica. These manufacturers include Toyota, Suzuki, Nissan, and Hyundai, to mention a few. Many dealers must place orders for details directly with the factory, which can take some time. For example, I’ve had to wait for a water pump for my Chevy Trailblazer for two months as it wasn’t a typical part!


Real Estate Purchase

Purchasing real estate can be challenging if you are unfamiliar with the process. Although once the process has been completed, many have stated it was simple, just different from what they are used to. The Government doesn’t mandate “Full Disclosure,” so it is a buyer-beware scenario! Look at the “Plano” and ask your trusted lawyer to check it for any liens, lawsuits, etc., at the registry. It is a quick and inexpensive solution that can prevent unforeseen complications.

It’s always in your best interest to hire your own lawyer as it is your attorney’s job to safeguard you. I’d be wary of any lawyers with any possible conflict of interest. Referrals from people already here can be a great way to discover a reliable and trustworthy attorney after your due diligence. Referrals from multiple sources are preferred. If you are interested in purchasing real estate in Costa Rica, don’t hesitate to contact us with your specific needs here or browse through our real estate catalog at GAP Real Estate!


Starting a Business

Additional services apart from Immigration can be provided by CRIE, such as opening a Costa Rican bank account, obtaining insurance (life, home, automotive, medical), bookkeeping Services, civil marriage ceremonies, will and probate, civil lawsuits or criminal charges, company formations and corporate structures, and more. If you need help with any of these services, do not hesitate to contact CRIE here.



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