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Investment category vs Rentista Category

If you are looking for residency in Costa Rica, and want to invest in the country, or you have a monthly income, there are two options to apply. The Investment category and the Rentista category


If you are looking for residency in Costa Rica, and want to invest in the country, or you have a monthly income, there are two options to apply. The Investment category and the Rentista category are both temporary residencies. Both categories are very similar, however, it is necessary to take in consideration some important aspects.

First, the investment category. As per the new law number 9996, that granted new benefits to people to invest in the country, the main requirement is that you have to invest in real estate or forestry projects, with a minimum amount of $150.000. This was recently modified, previously the requirement was to have an investment of $200.000.

It is very important to take in consideration that if you invested in a property and this is included in a corporation, the shares must be distributed so that the amount of $150.000 is achieved. For instance, if the shares in your corporation are 50% under your name and 50% under someone else’s, and the property is valued for $150.000, it will be necessary to make a transfer of shares, so that a hundred percent of the corporation is under the principal applicant’s name.

This is a very common mistake that can delay the process. Additionally, the investment category requires proof that the property is under the applicant’s name or if it is a company, it can be under the company name, however,  the shares must comply with the previous information and be owned by the principal. In order to do this, according to the Costa Rican system, there are two entities that keep this information. The first one is the National Registry, where all the properties and corporations are registered. The second entity are the Municipalities, these are located in every city in the country, and they are in charge of reviewing and updating the value of the properties. Another common mistake is that the value of the properties are not up-to-date with the Municipality.

This can be easily fixed.  In order to do this, you will  have to go to the Municipality and do an update, this is called “Declaración de bienes inmuebles”. With this document, the information will be updated, and the authorities must include this modification into their system. It is important to know that this will not only affect the value of the property, this will also change the amount that has to be paid in taxes.

Investment is a very good category to choose, as this allows you to purchase something for the future and at the same time you can legally stay in Costa Rica and enjoy the culture and lifestyle. However, something that people commonly forget or do not know is that all the residencies in Costa Rica, have to be renewed. The investment category needs to be renewed every 2 years. To complete this process, the person applying for the renewal needs to have possession of the property or the investment that was used to obtain the residency the first time. What does this mean? That after a person is approved as a resident in Costa Rica under the investment category, they can not sell the property or vehicles, as this can cause a denial of the renewal process.

In summary, these are the considerations for this category:

● Per the new law, the required amount is $150.000

● If the property is under a corporation, the primary applicant must have shares valued in $150.000

● The value of the property must be up-to-date at the municipality

● To have the property under the primary applicant’s name to renew

Now, let’s talk about the Rentista category. Currently, more people are interested in this type of process. There are different options to apply under this category. It is important to understand that this is not the same as the investment category, even though it is also required to make some type of investment.

How does this category work?

Rentista category basically requires for a person to have an income of $2500 per month, this has to be permanent, regular and stable. Also, this monthly income, must be received by the person for a period of 24 months. The reason for this is that the residency will be valid for two years only. We will review later on this article, what is the process to receive this money.

This category is constantly changing, as Immigration has been constantly modifying the process and requirements, as they are arguing if the concept of rent is correct or not, hence, this has been causing some troubles, specifically, when it comes to where  the money comes from.

There are three options to have a Rentista residency:

  1. Money outside of Costa Rica: If a person wants to apply for residency and their income is outside of Costa Rica, it is necessary to have a letter from the financial institution that certifies that the person has enough money to receive a Rent of at least $2500 per month, for a period of 24 months.

  2. Money in Costa Rica: If a person wants to have the money in a Costa Rican bank, it is required to deposit the income into a bank account, in Costa Rica, under the primary applicant’s name. Not all the banks work with this process, as the amount of money is very high, also, it is important to take into consideration that the bank authorities must agree to issue a letter with a very specific language, that certifies that the person actually has the money

  3. Certification from a CPA: If a person does not want to work with a bank for this process, there is an option to have a Certified Public Accountant to issue a certification of the person’s income.

Once the person has identified how they would like to proceed, the next step of the process is to know what to do with the money. In Option number 1 and number 3, the applicant has to  open a bank account in Costa Rica. The reason for this, is that once a person is approved as a resident in the country, it will be mandatory to deposit $2500 per month for the following 2 years. Same as the investment category, it will be necessary to renew the residency after two years.

For this renewal, the person must demonstrate that the money has been deposited into Costa Rica. People often believe that with the initial letter they will be good to renew, however, the fact that a person does not do the deposits or if they can not prove that they actually have the income, the authorities can deny the renewal and eventually, cancel the residency status.

Both categories are great options for people that would like to come to Costa Rica, the process is very similar, and yet, they both have some important details that have to be carefully examined, so the application can be approved.

This is a general overview of both processes.  Contact us here at Outlier and we can assist you in choosing which category is best for you and your family.




She serves as an Immigration Specialist at Outlier Legal. Stephanie Valverde is an honest and caring worker, who is finishing her thesis in law. With experience in customer service, she always exceeds expectations and provides creative solutions.

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