skip to Main Content

Can Foreigners Find Work in Costa Rica?

Can Foreigners Find Work in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is a tropical paradise known for its lush rainforests, stunning beaches, and friendly locals. It’s no surprise that many foreigners dream of living and working in this beautiful country. But is it possible for foreigners to find work in Costa Rica? The answer is yes, but it’s essential to understand the work permit, job market, and work requirements in the country.


To be Transparent

Jobs in Costa Rica for expats can be few and far between to find. As a foreigner, finding a job legally in any field might be challenging. According to the country’s immigration regulations, you can not take jobs from Costa Rican citizens or permanent residents. These rules are in place to protect the citizens from having their employment options limited by the presence of non-resident foreign workers. Some cases need to fit the law. Yes, a company may recruit a qualified expat if no eligible citizens or permanent residents are available for the highly skilled position. Allowing the employer to apply for the expat’s work visa fills a market vacuum. The Ministry of Labor (Ministerio de Trabajo – MTSS) occasionally sends a list of professional and skilled labor job opportunities to the immigration department to update their work permit criteria.


Work Visas for Foreigners

To work in Costa Rica, foreigners must obtain a work visa. The process can be lengthy and requires several documents, including a criminal background check, proof of income, and a job offer from a Costa Rican employer. It’s important to note that the employer is responsible for obtaining the necessary permits and licenses for the foreign employee.


Job Market in Costa Rica and How To Find One

The job market in Costa Rica is competitive, with a higher demand for bilingual professionals, particularly those fluent in English and Spanish. The tourism industry is arguably the largest employer in the country, followed by the agricultural and manufacturing sectors. However, there are also opportunities in the technology and service industries.


There are several ways to find a job in Costa Rica, with word of mouth playing a significant role. One of the more popular approaches is through online job portals, such as craigslist, Encuentra24, and Networking is essential, as many job opportunities are private and aren’t promoted to the public. It’s also a good idea to reach out to recruitment agencies or companies in your field of expertise.


Tips for Finding Work

Learn Spanish:

Even though many Costa Ricans speak “a little” English, it’s essential to have at least a basic understanding of the language to navigate the job market and daily life in the country.

Be flexible:

Many foreigners find work in fields that are not directly related to their previous experience or education. Call centers seem to be a very popular option as they usually can call North America, giving the candidate an edge if they are fluent in English.

Be patient:

Finding a job and obtaining a work visa can take several months, so we advise you to store some rainy-day money aside if needed.


Can I Start My Own Company?

To start, you need to establish legal status that allows their ability to work. There are several different ways to get this status, including temporary residency, permanent residency, being married to a Costa Rican citizen, and citizenship. If you choose to live in Costa Rica under the residency category of either Rentista, Investor, or Pensionado (retiree), you are permitted to own a business and earn an income from its profits; however, you are not permitted to work as an employee in the industry that you own. Your involvement in the company is restricted to the “hands-off” upper levels of management alone. To have any work done in Costa Rica, you’ll need to employ locals who are either nationals or permanent residents.



Can I survive off of Minimum Wage?

The minimum wage in Costa Rica is a fraction of what people may be used to if they come from Europe or North America. The Ministry of Labor maintains a list of the minimum salaries for many jobs that apply to each, depending on the requirements. Costa Rica’s minimum wage ranges, according to, i from 9,600 colones per 8-hour work day for “unskilled” workers to 12,500 colones per day for specialized workers.


Is it legal for expats to work remotely?

Many people work remotely from Costa Rica for employers or businesses headquartered elsewhere. A new residency category has recently been created for digital nomads, who work on computers and the internet to earn money outside of Costa Rica. This allows them to stay legally longer than on a regular tourist visa. Remote workers will be allowed a one-year visa in Costa Rica that can be extended for another year, provided they spend at least 180 days in the country during the first year. The good news is that they will be permitted to open local bank accounts and will not be subject to local income taxes because they will not earn money in Costa Rica.


There is no specific job definition to qualify for the digital nomad category, but here are some examples:

– Programming;
– Digital marketing;
– Graphic design;
– Content creator.



Note: with Digital Nomad, you are not permitted to access the local labor market and cannot compete for employment with locals.

Remember that the Digital Nomad visa is only valid for a year, with the right to renew for another year. If you wish to stay longer, you can apply for your temporary residency status. To see what category would work best for you, you can check HERE.



While finding work in Costa Rica as a foreigner can be challenging, it’s not impossible. With a strong understanding of the job market, a willingness to be flexible, and a little patience, you can make your dream of living and working in this beautiful country a reality.


-Written by Glenn Tellier (Founder of Grupo Gap)

+506 8500-2085


Have you got questions? – Contact us today!

Need residency in Costa Rica? – Click HERE.
Need a loan? – Click HERE.
Want to invest? – Click HERE.
Ready for a Relocation Tour? – Click HERE.


Back To Top