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The Government Fees for Residency

It is part of our business to know what the competition is doing. We have noticed that some other immigration firms do not provide an accurate description of the government fees people have to pay

It is part of our business to know what the competition is doing. We have noticed that some other immigration firms do not provide an accurate description of the government fees people have to pay in order to obtain temporary residency.

We at Outlier Legal feel it is important for people know the amount of money they will need to spend in government fees, regardless whether they are filing the application for residency on their own or whether they will use an attorney to help them with the process.

There are two times in the process where people are required to pay government fees: at the beginning of the process when the application for residency is filed, and at the end of the process when the residency is approved. All of the fees are to be paid at Banco de Costa Rica (BCR). Let’s take a look.


When Filing, $251 USD:

These fees must be paid prior to filing the application. The payment receipt must be added to the application package. The DGME (Immigration Department) will reject any application missing these fees.

  1. Application Fee: $50 USD. According to Section 255 of the Immigration Law 8764, foreign nationals have to pay this fee when filing an application for residency for the first time. It is not required to pay this fee when you change category from temporary to permanent resident.
  2. Change of Status. $200 USD. According to Section 89 of the law, foreign nationals are required to pay this fee when requesting a change of status. People who are in Costa Rica under the tourist visa, will be changing status to Temporary Residency (or any other applicable category) which requires the payment of the fee. It will be required to pay this fee again when changing category from temporary residency to permanent.
  3. Stamps $1 USD. This is basically a tax for filing the paperwork, applicable not only to immigration cases, but a lot of other services provided by the government as well.


When Approved, $423 USD:

At the end of the process, the approval notice will contain some language indicating the application has been approved. In addition, it will contain some language indicating the fees that need to be paid and the bank accounts where the payments are to be made.

  1. Security Deposit $300 USD (more or less). The security deposit is described in section 133 of the Immigration Law 8764. The purpose of the deposit is for the DGME to have funds to send the foreign national back to their home country should the foreigner be deported. The amount of money is decided on case by case basis depending on the country of origin of the foreign national. Thus, a person from China will have a higher security deposit than a person from Colombia. However, in the past couple of years, we have noticed that the DGME has only been requiring $300 USD in most cases. The fee is set in colones, therefore it may not exactly be $300 USD because of the exchange rate. Most of the time it ends up being about $310.
  2. DIMEX fees $123 USD. These fees are for the purpose of issuing the ID card for foreigners which is called a DIMEX, or colloquially as cédula. The amount of $123 has different components, but it is all dedicated to issuing the ID. The fees are justified in sections 251, 252, 253, and 33.4 of the law.


Therefore, when planning on applying for residency, you need to budget $673 USD for your government fees. These fees are only applicable to the immigration process. In addition, people need to factor in the costs to complete the CCSS registration (also known as CAJA) which is a whole other subject.

Finally, people also need to consider expenses, such as translations and the costs related to obtaining certain documents such as birth certificates and background checks from their home country. As some services may include all the government fees and expenses in their fees, some others may not. My suggestion is to always ask about the description of the fees in order to have a clear picture of how much the whole process is going to cost you.

I remember a man at the immigration department asking at the front desk for a refund of the initial fees of $251 USD. He had been approved for his temporary residency, but he did not want to complete the process as he did not want to pay the $423 USD for the security deposit and the DIMEX. The issue was that he was not aware that he had to pay those $423 USD in order to complete the process. It turns out his attorney never told him.

I hope his post will help you avoid being in that situation.


Please feel free to suggest any other topics through our blog or through the Facebook page for Outlier Legal Services or the Expat Information Center.



Attorney and Entrepreneur with more than 15 years experience in: immigration law in the US and Latin American countries including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Costa Rica and Panama. In addition, Rafael has extensive experience in Business Law, Estate Planning, and Real Estate. Lastly, Rafael has developed experience in people management, talent development and business development.

Review overview
  • Ronald Swanson September 26, 2017

    We would like to find out what your firm would charge us file all the necessary paperwork for us. We have income to live in CR. I have visited CR before and would like to live in Atenus. Thank you

    Ronald Swanson