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New Law to Attract Foreign Investors, Retired People, and Rentistas signed by the President Today!

Law 9996, which introduces changes and incentives for those applying for Pensionados, Rentistas, and Investors has now been signed by President Alvarado! Law 9996 and its subsequent ruling will determine how these Residency categories are

Law 9996, which introduces changes and incentives for those applying for Pensionados, Rentistas, and Investors has now been signed by President Alvarado! Law 9996 and its subsequent ruling will determine how these Residency categories are requested and the perks of securing them.

What does Law 9996 suggest?

The law is heavily focused on the exoneration of taxes for the people who wish to come to Costa Rica and apply for the Residency categories mentioned above. Some of the benefits include, as per the current version of the bill:

a) Exemption for the importation of household goods for the main applicant and their immediate family. What this bill means by immediate family is yet to be determined.

b) Exemption for the importation of up to 2 vehicles. This can be cars, boats, planes, for personal or family use. In case of loss of the vehicle due to theft, destruction by fire, flood, collision or accident occurred during the term of validity of the benefits granted, the person will be able to bring another vehicle free of the aforementioned taxes.

c) The amounts declared as income to become a creditor to the benefits of this law will be exempt from income tax. However, the rent obtained in Costa Rica because of the investments made will be subject to income tax.

d) Exoneration of 20% of the total transfer tax on those real estate transactions that are completed within the period of validity of the law provided that the beneficiary is the registered owner of the property. If the owner decides to transfer the property within the period of validity of this law, the taxes will apply.

e) Tax exemption for the importation of instruments and materials required for the professional or scientific exercise of Investor, Pensionado, or Rentista. This is particularly curious since, per law, Investors, Pensionados, and Rentistas cannot legally work. It remains to be seen if this will be dropped from the ruling.

Regarding Tax Residency

Foreign nationals who acquire residencies as Investors, Pensionados, or Rentistas will not be considered tax residents.

An important note should be made that in case the person decides to cancel their residence or if Immigration cancels their residence for any of the reasons stipulated in the Law, the person would be required to pay all the taxes that were originally exempted.

Regarding the Investors

There is a proposal on this new law to lower the minimum investment from $200,000 to $150,000 to be able to qualify for this category.

In addition, the law opens the possibility to people who invest in venture capital funds or projects of sustainable tourism infrastructure.

Regarding the Processing

Immigration will have a special window for the three categories involved in this new law which will simplify the process.

Falsification of documents

Anyone who alters or falsifies any kind of documents seeking the benefits of this law will be sanctioned with a fine equivalent to 10% of the exonerated taxes. Additionally, this person will have to proceed to pay the full amount of the taxes that were initially exonerated.

Validity of the Law

Those Investors, Pensionados, or Rentistas that opt to enjoy the benefits set upon on this law will have to do so within the first 5 years of validity of the law. The benefits will be granted for 10 years.

What’s next?

The law specifically says that the Government now has 2 months to draft and publish the ruling that will come to determine how this new law is applied. That ruling will certainly answer many of the questions we all have right now. For example, will the law be retroactive (we believe it will), will the basic requirements to apply for Residency change (we believe they won’t), will there be sanctions if Immigration does not comply with the suggested processing times, etc. We need to wait and see.

For now, we welcome this new law with excitement and anxiously wait for the ruling to be ready so that the law can be put into practice.




He serves as the Lead Immigration Manager at Outlier Legal. Alfredo Abrego has a Law degree. Most of his work experience is in customer service, and for the past year and a half he has been dedicated to immigration manners in our firm. Responsable and honest, are some adjectives that fit him perfectly.

Review overview
  • Guy Molinari June 11, 2021

    Any updates on this? Was there a vote on this on Thurs, June 10?

  • Guy Molinari June 11, 2021

    Disregard. It helps to read the article. 😉

  • Irina just July 6, 2021

    very informative article. Just one question; What is the difference between investors and Rentistas? (I know what “pensionados” are).

    • Stacey Jennings July 6, 2021

      Hi Irina! Thank you for your question. You can see all the different categories here.

  • Stephanie Bell July 7, 2021

    Definitely interested (and hoping) that it will be retroactive! Bought my land 4 years ago and started building 7 months ago???
    Please keep us posted!

    • Stacey Jennings July 7, 2021

      We definitely will!!!

  • Lynn July 7, 2021

    Good morning. My question is about shipping a car into Costa Rica if we are already residents. Does the possible “retroactive” comment pertain to this?

    • Stacey Jennings July 7, 2021

      We will not know all the details for a month or two. As soon as we hear the new information we will post on all our media platforms. Thank you for your question! It’s a popular one right now obviously

  • Henry July 8, 2021

    How about those people of those categories who will be purchasing a vehicle in Costa Rica? Will they be exempt from the respective tax? Or just those who import a vehicle?

    • Stacey Jennings July 9, 2021

      Unfortunately not, the retailer has already paid all those taxes, which are transmitted to the buyer.

  • Jaymie July 8, 2021

    I guess that leaves parents that have their children here and become residents out of this group

  • Ken Harrison July 9, 2021

    Will a person(s) with a residency application in process be able to import a vehicle or must they be deemed a resident? Will the limit of 2 vehicles aplly on a per person or per family basis? Thank you

    • Stacey Jennings July 9, 2021

      Hello Ken, we do not know all the details until the law is finalized. We just need to wait and see what the law looks like when it completed.

  • Marco Rodriguez July 9, 2021

    What does not tax resident mean? Will we pay into CAJA or not qualify for it? Also, can the wife of a Pensionado work after they have achieved legal residency.

    • Stacey Jennings July 19, 2021

      Non tax residence is when you do not qualify to pay taxes in Costa Rica, you become a tax resident after 183 days in the country. And no they cannot work under that category of residency.

  • Marcy L Orth July 9, 2021

    Regards importing a vehicle: the import tax will be waived but the ‘blue book’ valuation will be used for the rate of marchamo correct? Is there an official blue book to determine? What department handles that? Ty for the very informative information

    • Stacey Jennings July 19, 2021

      No, the marchamo is valuated in regards to the fiscal value reported once the car is naturalized. To do this, official documentation of purchase will be required

      • Dany Bohbot August 26, 2021

        Greetings. In regards to the Exemption of 20% of the total real estate transfer tax when you purchase real estate, can that apply to the first purchase you make? Or is it for future purchases after receiving residency?

        Thx Dany

        • Stacey Jennings September 1, 2021

          We are still waiting for the final resolution to be published – we will not know all the details or how it will be applied until that happens.

        • Stacey Jennings September 1, 2021

          This law hasn’t been published yet so until it is we will not know all the details or how it will all be applied. We will update all our social media platforms as soon as we hear any news

  • j July 10, 2021

    importation exemption is for only taxes or also customs and duty, etc… fees? as those fees are usually the ones that are ambiguous and cause problems.. the taxes are at least somewhat transparent…

  • Gee July 16, 2021

    Wait Am I seeing things or am I just dreaming. Did I just read when I retire to Costa Rica I’m able to bring my 2016 Kia Soul with 20,000 miles on it to Costa Rica for free and if I decided to fill the inside of the car with clothes and household stuff I won’t be charged a dollar. I believe last I check duty tax alone were 9000$ for only the car. Honestly I’ve been hesitating for years to move to Costa Rica only because of the duty auto tax. It didn’t make sense to pay 9k for the car alone. Anyone have an apartment for rent. I miss Costa Rica so much.

  • Kevin Funk August 17, 2021

    Any updates on the details of this? Most notably, will investment-purchases made now (in August) be considered under the umbrella of the new rules, or should we wait to invest?

    • Stacey Jennings August 17, 2021

      Nothing yet…. we will continue to monitor for updates and we will post any information as soon as it is available.

      • Kevin Funk November 20, 2021

        Still no news in ~5 months? Is it possible that these plans will never come to pass?

  • Natalie Paul August 18, 2021

    If an application for residency has been submitted, does the 90day maximum stay for tourists still apply for the applicants?

    • Stacey Jennings August 22, 2021

      Yes if you apply for residency you are able to stay in the country until the date of the appointment. If your application has actually been filed (different) then you are able to drive until Sept 30, 2021 and unless there is another extension by MOPT then you will be required to do the border runs

  • Kevin Funk December 27, 2021

    Any updates on this? I’m surprised I haven’t seen anything in 5 months.

    • Stacey Jennings January 3, 2022

      I just confirmed with our Immigration team – nothing yet. As soon as we receive any new information we will update all our social media platforms

  • Richard Witkowski February 15, 2022

    Since we are still waiting for adoption of Law 9996, how is importation of personal goods handled under current law?

  • Eric Kleiman September 16, 2022

    Any update for Law 9996 to go into effect?

    • Rafael Valverde January 16, 2023


      No updates yet.

  • JV December 30, 2022

    any update ?

    • Maripaz Soto Villalobos January 2, 2023


      There are no updates for now.