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The Rentista Category

The Rentista Category is a very popular category as it allows a significant number of people to obtain immigration status in Costa Rica. We receive a lot of inquiries about this category, and we are

The Rentista Category is a very popular category as it allows a significant number of people to obtain immigration status in Costa Rica. We receive a lot of inquiries about this category, and we are also able to see there is a lot of misinformation going around this category. So, let’s review it here.

Who is eligible under this category?
Under current immigration regulations, foreign nationals are eligible to obtain a Temporary Residence under the Rentista Category if they can demonstrate that:

  1. They have $60,000 in savings at the bank;
  2. From which the applicant receives $2,500;
  3. For a period of 24 months.

It is required to set up a specific type of account or investment to structure the money in a way that you can receive the $2,500 per month for a period of 24 months. This investment can be set up as annuity, a certificate of deposit, a trust, or any other instrument that will comply with those three requirements as described above.

How should I structure the $60,000?
The account with the $60,000 USD can be set up with a bank in your home country, or with a bank in Costa Rica. If you are setting up an account in Costa Rica, it is preferable for the account to be in US Dollars instead of Costa Rican colones. A lot of people think that putting the money in colones is a good idea because of the interest rates, but the devaluation of the currency will affect you in the long run. Both, interest rates and devaluation are simple concepts, but a lot of people have a hard time reconciling the fact that colones devaluate over time. For instance, some people believed that 10% interest in colones is much better than 2.5% in Dollars. Well, that was not the case for the first two-quarters last year when the colon devaluated more than 10%. If you do not understand this situation, then just stick to US Dollars. Take my advice on it.

If you set up the bank account in your home country, then you will need to transfer the funds to Costa Rica, for which you will need to open a bank account in Costa Rica to receive the funds from abroad.

None of these two options require you to exchange the dollars into colones. You can successfully obtain residency and obtain a renewal if you only have the funds in US Dollars. Some people believe it is required to exchange the funds, but not really.

When should I start receiving the $2,500 per month?
This is a relevant question when it comes to renewing your residency.

The Temporary Residence under the Rentista Category is valid for two years and it can be renewed for additional two-year periods. After three years, the person is eligible for Permanent Residence. This means that if you would like to apply for permanent residence after three years, then you will need to renew your rentista category, which requires you once again to set up an account with the $60,000 USD to renew the residency. While you can start receiving the disbursements for $2,500 per month as soon as you create the account, the suggestion is to start disbursements once you have received the approval for the residency. The primary reason is to be able to renew your residency as one of the requirements is to have been receiving the funds within 24 months prior of the renewal. This is more important for the people who have the funds abroad.

The Renewal of the Rentista Category
The requirements to renew the rentista category will vary depending on whether you have the funds abroad or in Costa Rica. In either case, you need to demonstrate that you will keep receiving the amount of $2,500 per month for an additional period of 24 months.

However, there is little difference for people who created the account abroad versus the people who created the account in Costa Rica. If you recall, people who created the account abroad are required to transfer the funds to an account in Costa Rica, and thus, when requesting a renewal, it is required to produce evidence that those funds arrived in that bank account. This requirement is satisfied by producing the account statements for the account in Costa Rica showing that you received the funds.

On the other hand, people who have created the account in Costa Rica are not required to produce the bank statements as it was initially established the money was in Costa Rica.

Options for other people:

There are people who do not have the $60,000 USD in the bank, or they have it but they cannot move it because of fees, taxes, penalties, so on, and so forth. But they have a verifiable income of at least $2,500 per month. It is also possible to qualify under the rentista category under such scenarios. For people in this situation, the main requirement is to produce tax returns and proof of income.

Document Requirements for the Rentista Category

The following are the documents required for filing the application for temporary residence under the Rentista Category.

  1. Bank Letter or Income Verification. A letter from your bank will be required to demonstrate that you have:
    a.  An account with $60,000 USD;
    b.  From which you receive $2,500 USD per month;
    c.  For a period of 24 months.
  2. Background Check. This document should be issued by a national authority. For instance, in the case of US Nationals, it should be from the FBI. In the case of Canadian Nationals, it should be issued by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. In the case of UK Nationals, it should be issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers. So on and so forth.
  3. Birth Certificate. It is required to obtain a new copy of your birth certificate.
  4. Application Form. We complete the application form.
  5. Cover Letter. The cover letter contains some information about you. We will complete the cover letter for you.
  6. Fingerprints. The fingerprints are obtained at a Police Department in San José. Unfortunately, there are no other locations available in the country. We will coordinate with you in order to complete the fingerprints.
  7. Certified Copy of the passport. We obtain a certified copy of the passport.
  8. Consular Registration. Registration with your country’s consulate is required. We will provide instructions for completing the registration.
  9. Six passport-size photographs. We will obtain the passport-size pictures on the same day we do the fingerprints.
  10. Government Fees. Initially, it is required to pay $250 USD in application fees when filing.

Important notes about the documents.

  • All documents in a foreign language must be translated into Spanish. The costs for the translations will vary depending on the original language.
  • All documents from abroad must be authenticated for its use in Costa Rica. Documents from certain countries require an apostille. Documents from other countries require a legalization. To learn more about apostilles please click here.
  • The birth certificates and the background checks (and any other documents from abroad) must be issued within six months prior to filing the application. Therefore, your original birth certificate will not be valid for immigration purposes in Costa Rica. You will need to obtain a new copy of your birth certificate and background check shortly prior to filing.
  • People who do not have $60,000 in the bank, but have verifiable income of $2,500 USD per month, must provide additional documents to demonstrate the income, such as tax returns, bank statements, and a certification from a CPA.


Processing Time

The application process for temporary residency has three stages. Namely, document procurement, Government Analysis and Decision, and Registration. Please review below the description of these three stages as well as the corresponding timeline applicable to each stage.












Important notes about the processing times

  • Once the application is filed, the DGME will issue a Receipt Notice, which demonstrates that you have an application pending. This document in conjunction with your passport will function as a valid ID.
  • As noted, the DGME takes about 12 months for reviewing the application. The law allows you to remain in the country while your application is pending. Thus, you are not required to leave the country to renew the 90-day visa.
  • If you have a driver’s license, you are still required to leave the country every three months to continue driving your foreign DL.
  • If you leave the country during this period, you may be required to produce a return ticket when trying to reenter the country at a border or airport.


Legal Fees, Government Fees, and Expenses

This is a description of the fees and expenses related to the entire application process under this category. Please note that we provide a comprehensive list of expenses. Our goal is for you to have a clear understanding of the real costs of the entire process from beginning to end.

Legal Fees Start at $1500

The legal fees includes:

  • Preparation of application package
  • Cover Letter
  • Application Form
  • Coordination for the Translations
  • Procurement of Fingerprints
  • Assistance with the consular registration
  • Assistance with the registration with the CCSS
  • Procurement of the DIMEX
  • Filing the Application with the DGME
  • Following up with the DGME to determine the status of the application.

Notes about the Legal Fees

  • These fees are per person. Each additional person has a cost of $500 USD.
  • The legal fees do not include government fees and expenses.

 Government Fees

Notes about the Government Fees

The Application Fee and the Change of Status fee must be paid at the beginning of the process when filing the application.

  • The fees for the DIMEX, the CCSS and the Guarantee Deposit are paid at the end of the process once the DGME has approved the application.
  • The registration with the CCSS is a recurring monthly expense. Only the principal is required to pay The dependants will be registered under the principal. The amount to pay depends on the income of the principal.
  • The amount for the Guarantee Deposit depends on your country of origin. The purpose of the deposit is for the CR Government to have funds available to send you back home should you be deported. Generally, US Nationals pay a $300 deposit. This deposit is refundable, and will be returned to you if you decide to become a permanent resident.


Notes about the expenses:

  • These are the expenses that you will encounter throughout the process. These amounts represent how much it will costs us to obtain those documents. If you are in your country, and you can obtain these documents yourself, it will cost you a lot less money.
  • The fees for the background check and the birth certificate are applicable only to documents from the United States. The costs for documents from other parts of the world will vary.
  • The costs for the translations are $50 per document.

If you want to know more about Outlier Legal fees to process your Rentista Residency, click here.

Final Comments

We have noticed there is some confusion regarding the requirements for the rentista category and the renewal thereof. I believe the main source of the confusion is related to the change of the law in 2012.

Congress passed a new immigration law in 2010 but it became effective until march 2012. This point in time should be used as a reference when understanding immigration law in Costa Rica and to avoid confusion. This is a very important element as the requirements for obtaining residency and to process the renewals changed with the new law. For instance, as far as the rentista category is concerned, the old law required each family member to independently produce evidence of the $2,500 income. Therefore, a couple had to produce an income of $5,000 USD, a family of three had to produce an income of $7,500 USD, son on and so forth. The new law changed that required as it allows a family to obtain residency with an income of $2,500 USD, regardless of the size of the family. Another example is the requirement to exchange dollars into colones, which was applicable to the old law but not the new one.

It is possible to find information in various sites referring to the old law, or that may misinterpret the current law by continuing to use some elements of the old law. This is also true to other immigration categories. I urge you to be very careful to select your source of information.

I hope this information to be helpful. Please feel free to reach us with further questions or comments



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
  • Louis Loesch February 11, 2019

    Questions regarding renewal of rentista residency.
    Feb 2017 applied for temporary. Started receiving $2500 monthly income from CD ($60,000) in Costa Rica.
    Approved May 2018. Have to wait until May 2020 to renew.
    My original CD just finished monthly payouts ( Jan 2019).
    Can I wait to deposit funds for new CD until renewal?
    Is ok that there will be a gap in monthly deposits?

    • danielduartes February 25, 2019


      Indeed, you can wait to deposit the funds into a new CD until renewal.

  • Jus June 23, 2019

    Do both partners need to be on the Rentista program, or can one partner have it in their name only?
    I was thinking that the caja is significantly higher for those under 55, but if one partner was 55 and the other person was a little younger, then wouldn’t putting the Rentita in the 55 year olds name help save on the caja?