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What a Wonderous Experience to Fall in Love in The Tropics

Costa Rica is known for its beautiful beaches, mountains and its biodiversity, but above all for the warmth of its habitants. That is why it is so easyto fall in love with Costa Ricans and

Seashore, sunset in the background and in the sand a heart

Costa Rica is known for its beautiful beaches, mountains and its biodiversity, but above all for the warmth of its habitants. That is why it is so easyto fall in love with Costa Ricans and the beauty of such a diverse country.

It is common for people to find love and eventually marry a local. Costa Rican tends to welcome foreign nationals and embrace new cultures so it is not uncommon to have people fall in love!

Luckily, our Immigration Law has a special temporary category for those who marry a Costa Rican national, including same sex-couples (love is love!).


To apply, the marriage must be duly registered in Costa Rica or a judge must have confirmed the civil union. The foreign spouse will need documents such as the birth certificate and background check, duly apostilled/legalized.

 Once the application is submitted, the spouses need to schedule an interview at Immigration with a social worker.

 The marriage interview is done to attest and prove the spousal relationship, this interview is critical for the approval of temporary residence. During the interview the applicant and their spouse must answer a series of questions and provide evidence such as photographs, stories and the relationship’s dynamic as well. It is essential to highlight that sham marriages (fraud marriages) are punishable by Costa Rican law.


It is important to mention some challenges that the applicant may encounter:

● Due to COVID-19, delays are expected during the analysis time of the authorities.

● The authorities do not have a wide range of slots and appointments available to proceed with the marriage interview and sometimes the officials in charge of conducting the interviews miss the appointment.

● The authorities can ask you some tough question if they think your marriage is not legit.

● In the past if the applicant didn’t speak Spanish it was allowed to hire an Official Translator from the Costa Rican Foreign Ministry to assist with the consecutive translation, given that the spouse is not allowed to translate. However, due to COVID-19 the Official Translator cannot be present in the room, authorities have not provided an alternative to this process.

● If you get divorced or your Costa Rican spouse passes away, you will not be able to conclude the process or renew the Residency if you have already secured it.


Once the application has been approved the applicant’s next step is to be registered within the CAJA and to request the DIMEX (identification document for foreigners).



For Residents, it is mandatory to be registered with CAJA, however, in the marriage category we have two options to proceed with this matter:


● If the Costa Rican spouse or partner is registered and up to date with CAJA, the foreign spouse and Resident can be added as their dependent.

● If the spouse is not registered in CAJA, we can proceed with the CAJA registration with an income certification by CPA (Certified Public Accountant). The CAJA monthly fee will be determined by the information provided in the income certification.


Once the applicant has been registered with the CAJA, they can request their local ID card (DIMEX, typically referred to as cedula which is the identification document for nationals).

It is extremely important to be aware that the DIMEX under the marriage category will be valid only for 1 year, meaning that it will be required for the applicant to keep renewing every year. After 3 years of holding Temporary Residency, you can apply for Permanent Residency. Even better, after 2 years of marriage and of living in Costa Rica for 730 days after the marriage, you can even apply for Citizenship (even if you have not secured Residency).

Bear in mind that to renew your Temporary Residency based on Marriage, you must still be married.

One of the most popular benefits under this category, is that the applicant once registered with their DIMEX, will be allowed  to work in Costa Rica without any problem.


In general, the process is friendly with the normal hiccups that applying for Residency in Costa Rica entails, particularly during COVID as there are delays on the process

In my experience, I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of applicants in love who want to fulfill their goals as a couple in our beautiful country and it has truly been fun to guide them through this process.


This article was written in collaboration with Irene Brenes, Lead of Immigration Operations.



Internationalist and Immigration Consultant with experience in customer services, digital communication, and advertising.

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  • Keyser Kenneth July 30, 2021

    In regards to marriage article, what if ( in same sex marriage) we were married in US and only spend 2 1/2 months a year in CR ? Does all still apply ?

    • Stacey Jennings August 2, 2021

      All the requirements are the same for all married couples.