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How to Go About the Renewal of My Residency

We recommend that three months prior to the expiration of your DIMEX ID card (known in Spanish as the cédula), you should renew it. The good news, however, is that renewal is not as cumbersome

We recommend that three months prior to the expiration of your DIMEX ID card (known in Spanish as the cédula), you should renew it. The good news, however, is that renewal is not as cumbersome as the initial application. If done right, upon filing and depending on your age, you could renew your DIMEX card in as little as one day and up to 2-3 weeks.

One benefit that some people aren’t aware of is that people who are 65 and over may renew their IDs directly at Immigration without an appointment on Thursdays and Fridays in San Jose. Another benefit for people 65 years old and over who renew at Immigration is that those who submit their documents there often receive their new DIMEX card on the same day.

Younger applicants can process their renewals at any Correos de Costa Rica or Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) offices, except for those whom have the Investors status who, due to the category and regardless of age, are usually processed at Immigration directly. Renewal entails scheduling an appointment, bringing the applicable documents needed, submitting them to Immigration, and waiting for around 2-3 weeks for the DIMEX to be delivered at the Correos de Costa Rica office of your choice.

As you can see, renewal sounds rather simple and it frequently can be, except for the fact that it is very hard to get a straight and clear list of renewal requirements from Immigration, Correos de Costa Rica, and the BCR. While the General Law of Immigration and its subsequent legal rulings should be the guidelines pertaining to requirements, things do not always work as they should in our beautiful country. Hence, Correos may have its requirements, BCR may provide a different list, and Immigration another!

The general rule for renewal is that you must present your original passport, your expiring DIMEX card, pay any corresponding processing fees, provide the latest CAJA (Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social) payment receipt, and include the paperwork to prove that you still qualify for the specific residency category you hold. For example, if you are in the Pensionado category, you will need a newly issued pension letter showing that you still receive a lifetime monthly pension of at least $1000. If issued abroad, the letter needs to be apostilled or legalized. If you are an Investor, you need to present documents to prove that the property worth at least $200,000 is still yours. If you are a Rentista, a newly issued bank letter and the bank statements for the past 24 months may even be required, so on and so forth.

Therefore, proving that you still qualify for the category can be tricky. Consequently, we always recommend that you start working on your renewal with enough anticipation, meaning about three months of time in advance.

Another key factor in the renewal process is to be up to date with the CAJA. You may show up to your appointment carrying all the proper documentation, but if you are not up to date with the CAJA, chances are your renewal will not be successful. Therefore, carrying the latest CAJA receipt is always a must. If you are renewing not only your own DIMEX, but your family’s as well, you need to make sure that their CAJA family benefit is also up to date. Whilst you may have consistently paid the CAJA, if you never “updated” your family’s CAJA benefit, their CAJA may have been suspended. Hence, prior to renewal it would be advisable to make sure that their family benefit is up to date.

We have had multiple experiences where a renewal is delayed due to the family CAJA benefit not being up to date. If it is not up to date, a trip to the corresponding Ebais Clinic will be required to make sure this matter is settled prior to renewal. Please be informed that updating the family benefit may require showing various documentation or even file a new family benefit request form, depending on the situation, or how long the family benefit has been inactive. Also important to note is that, evidently, if you are the principal and have family, their residency cannot be renewed until yours is.

Renewing, as mentioned above, is generally not as difficult as securing residency the first time around and you may have heard stories of people who have achieved a successful renewal without any inconveniences. However, there are also horror stories, as with everything involving Immigration. The reason behind most of these bad experiences is the lack of a clear, consistent, and fixed list of renewal requirements from all the entities involved.

In conclusion, while renewal is easier that securing the first residency, it still has its degree of complexity considering that CAJA needs to be up to date and you still need to prove that you qualify for the specific category you hold. Renewal for Permanent Residency status is easier as you no longer need to prove that you qualify for the original category you held, however, the CAJA rule would still apply.

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ibrenes@outlierlegal.com

Attorney with more than 10 years of experience in customer service, team management and team building at an international level. Has worked immigration cases in various countries, including Costa Rica, Colombia and Panama.

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11 COMMENTS
  • Venetia kerith January 12, 2021

    Can you apply at bcr for conjugal temporary residency renewal

    • Rafael Valverde January 13, 2021

      Venetia,

      Indeed, both spouses can renew the residency at BCR.

  • Derryl Hermanutz January 13, 2021

    You can’t do the renewals at any BCR or Correos. We tried renewing my wife’s DIMEX at Correos in Jaco and the girl told me only the Correos in Puntarenas does it, or the BCR in Quepos. The girl at Correos gave me the number to call (1311) to make an appointment, You dial the number on your phone and it connects you to an automated answering system in which you listen to the recorded voice of a woman speaking a long conversation of very rapid, poorly enunciated español which is utterly unintelligible to pretty much any non-Tico applying to renew a DIMEX. I took my phone to a Tico guy at a nearby language school and got him to make the appointment at BCR in Quepos. It took about 5 minutes of him getting jerked around from one line to another until finally a human answered the phone and he arranged the cita with her. He gave her my wife’s information and my email address and I received the cita confirmation for 9 a.m. in Puntarenas, not Quepos. So we arrived in Puntarenas at 8:30 and stood in line waiting for BCR to open at 9 a.m. When the bank opened the guard came out asking for people with citas so I showed him ours and he smiled and told me it was for Correos, not BCR. Luckily Correos is right across the street from BCR and there was no lineup so we walked over and I presented our cita and the requisite documents at the service window. The girl called over another girl who asked if I had my bank receipt. What? Yes, you have to pay the $123 DIMEX renewal fee to Hacienda’s bank account at BCR before you apply for your DIMEX renewal, and you have to show the comprobante. No comprobante, no application. The girl told me we could renew the DIMEX directly at the Inmigración office in Puntarenas a few blocks away. So we drove there and presented ourselves at the fortress gate. Finally a girl came out and took our documents through the bars, and after a few times back and forth she informed us that my wife does not exist in the Caja. No Caja, no application. So we went around the corner to the Caja to try to find out how my wife had been spontaneously removed from the Caja, even though I still exist in their system and I have never been late making the monthly payment. After a long enough wait in the Caja line I decided to go back to Jaco to sort out our Caja before spending any more of our day walking around Puntarenas. Back in Jaco I first went to the Caja administration office and was told No, you need to go to the clinica. Then I went to the clinica and was told, No, we only do this tramite between 8:30 – 11:30. On my walk home from the clinica I ran across a Jaco buddy and told him about this, and he said he and his wife had dealt with exactly the same problem the previous week. His wife spontaneously disappeared out of the Caja’s system for no apparent reason, so they had to go to the clinica, deliver their paperwork, then the clinica phoned the next day to tell them to come and pick up their new Caja cards. So I’ll be at the clinica at 8:30 tomorrow morning with our paperwork, and I hope we get the same result – new card; wife reborn into the Caja computer system – as my buddy got. Then I can go back to the guy at the language school and get him to make us a new DIMEX renewal cita in Puntarenas, hopefully at Inmigración, but at Correos if that fails. Meanwhile, I wrote down Inmigracion’s email address and website that were posted on their window in Puntarenas. When I finally got home I checked it out and found a list of requisitos for the DIMEX renewal. You have to pay the $123 fee – in colones – to Hacienda’s BCR account. I read elsewhere that you have to pay the dollars at the fx rate at the time of the transaction. Each bank has their own idea of what is the “current” fx rate, which means I can’t calculate how much in colones and pay from my colon account. So I guess I will pay from my dollar account and let BCR get their cut of the currency exchange fee. If you’re renewing an expired DIMEX you have to pay an additional $3 for each month or partial month you were late renewing. After 3 months you can’t just pay the late fees. You have to get a note from your lawyer explaining why you failed to renew on time. Adventuras en tramites burocraticas.

  • Casey B May 25, 2021

    Derryl, that just sounds so typical of the general experience when making most tramites with the government offices. One hand does not know what the other is doing, everyone modifies procedures to fit their own taste and once you think you’ve got it down, new rules pop up like weeds. You really displayed an exceptional measure of patience.

    To the author: what is meant by “original passport” in the fifth paragraph? This is an ambiguous statement, since passports expire. Do you mean the passport originally used when obtaining residency or a current one?

    • Stacey Jennings May 25, 2021

      Yes that would refer to the passport that contains all your entry stamps for Costa Rica.

  • Marcella Marshall August 18, 2021

    We renewed our permanent residency at Correos de Costa Rica in Grecia early this month. We live in Atenas and were advised our new cards would arrive at Correos Atenas in 4-6 weeks. We were asked to take a picture of the screen that had our cédula, expedienté number and a post office tracking number when we went to renew. My question is how do we track the renewal process online? I tried entering the post office rastreo number, but it is not valid right now in the correos.Cr site and the migración site only shows the date we were issued permanent residency.
    Does anyone know if there is a way to track the renewal online and the site?

    • Stacey Jennings August 18, 2021

      Hello! Thank you for your question. Until the tracking number shows up on the correos website, the dimex is not ready for collection

      • Marcella Marshall August 18, 2021

        Thank you! Will just keep checking correos website then and track it once it appears.

  • Orren Veatch February 5, 2022

    This is my 3rd renewal, how do I get permanent Residency?

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