How to Open a personal Bank Account in Costa Rica
Foreign residents and non-residents can open personal bank accounts in Costa Rica as long as they meet all the eligibility requirements. There are several reasons why foreigners may need to open a bank account in Costa
Foreign residents and non-residents can open personal bank accounts in Costa Rica as long as they meet all the eligibility requirements.
There are several reasons why foreigners may need to open a bank account in Costa Rica, whether they are residents or tourists. Having a debit or credit card to pay without high fees and exchange rates, pay bills, make payments, or receive a salary, are just some of those reasons. If you’re in a similar situation, you should know that it is possible for a foreigner to open a bank account in Costa Rica regardless of their immigration status (legal).
Costa Rica has government and private banks, and in both you’ll find entities that issue accounts to foreigners. The policies vary depending on the bank, but most of them allow expats with legal residency status to open accounts, and their requirements usually include an ID (Passport or Dimex), proof of residency, an income certificate (based on your tax return), and a minimum balance in the account (for some banks). The foreigners who apply for self-employed residency must report their income to the local federal authorities (Ministerio de Hacienda).
Here’s a simple guide of how to open a bank account in Costa Rica as an expat.
There are three government banks in Costa Rica but the two main ones are:
Banco Nacional (BN)
The requirements for expats to open a bank account in Banco Nacional as non-resident foreigners are the following:
Copy of your passport with an entry stamp to Costa Rica.
However, this bank has some restrictions for non-residents, such as: not being able to make a sinpe wire transfer (this means that if you have a bank account with BN you can not make a local transfer to BAC, BCR, Banco Promérica and other entities).
The maximum amount that you can keep in a BN account is $1,000 USD. Also, you cannot send and receive international wire transfers but you can pay Caja (CCSS), bills, taxes, internet, etc.
Banco de Costa Rica (BCR)
To open a bank account in Banco de Costa Rica as a non-resident, the requirements are the same to Banco Nacional with the exception that BCR has an online platform available to open a personal bank account and this process can take around one month or less. You can also go to any branch and get it in about a week.
If you have a Dimex ID, it is simpler to open a personal bank account.
Government banks offer the advantage of being more reliable since they are a state funded institution and they insure all your money and guarantee all the deposits. They also have more branches and ATMs around the country and their fees are usually cheaper than the ones from private banks. On the negative side, they are more bureaucratic than private banks and they tend to have more waiting lines and to be slower in their processes.
Like the government banks, it is easier when you obtain the Dimex. With this, a foreigner can easily open an account. However, if you still do not have your residency in Costa Rica, and only have a passport, private banks will have some additional requirements.
This is the list of the private banks in Costa Rica as of December 2022:
2. Banco BCT
3. Banco Cathay
7. Banco Lafise
For many locals and foreigners, private banks offer better service, have shorter lines and are more prone to having bilingual employees, which can certainly make the process of opening a bank account easier for expats. On the down side, their fees are much higher than those of public banks.
From experience, we recommend the following banks: BAC San José and Banco Promérica. Clients have preferred these banks because of the service they have been given, ease of communication, user-friendly internet banking which is available in English.
The requirements for expats to open a bank account in BAC San José are:
Copy of your valid passport which contains the stamp of entry to the country, in the cases that applies.
A deposit of ₡25,000 CRC or $50 USD to open a personal account. This minimum balance must be maintained in your account or you will be charged a commission (estimate of $3 USD).
Income Certificate (this would be based on the information of last year’s tax return).
Document that connects you to the country (Costa Rica). This could be a copy of the House Rental Lease Agreement or a copy of the Number of the File that you filed at Immigration for residency.
Note: These requirements could change depending on the branch that you go.
Expats can open a bank account in Banco Promérica. The requirements are:
1. Copy of passport with current entry stamp into the country (Costa Rica).
2. Tax Return of the last year.
3. Your current address in the country (you can file an electricity or other bill that indicates the address where you live in Costa Rica).
4. Document that connects you to the country (Costa Rica). This could be a copy of the House Rental Lease Agreement or a copy of the Number of the File that you filed at Immigration for residency.
These banks offer accounts in colones and in dollars. Banco Nacional also offers a euro account.
Every bank in Costa Rica has an online digital platform that not only provides the standard electronic banking tools but also has information about their accounts and their requisites.
Before you go to any bank, it’s important to have all the necessary information regarding what is required to open an account, especially if it is a government bank. Remember that these banks in Costa Rica are safer options to secure your money, but their timing is tedious. If you go to an office to open a bank account and you don’t have all of the documentation required, you’ll have to go back again and probably wait in another long line before you can open your account.
Stay tuned for more important information concerning banking procedures. Outlier Legal is available to help you with any of your inquiries in Costa Rica.
*Take into account that the information and data mentioned above is from today, and banks are constantly changing requirements and restrictions. This happens at any bank in Costa Rica.*