How do you get a retirement visa for Costa Rica?

Chima Nnaemeka29 June 20211936 views8 min. read
How do you get a retirement visa for Costa Rica?

After actively working for years in your country, you might decide to spend your retirement years in a new environment or country. There are many reasons why you can decide to travel to another country for retirement. Depending on your reasons, you need to have certain travelling documents like your passport and, more especially, your visa. Costa Rica is one country where retirees spend their retirement years for different reasons: good and entertaining culture, beautiful environment, eye-catching nature – wildlife and beaches, and the rest. If you are among those who want to spend your retirement life in Costa Rica, this article is for you.

In this article, you will know how you can get a Costa Rica retirement visa, Costa Rica retirement visa benefits and Costa Rica retirement visa requirements.

Retirement visa in Costa Rica

costa rica flag

How do you get a retirement visa for Costa Rica is probably the most important question you have for reading this article. A retirement visa for Costa Rica can come in different ways.

They include:

1. Pensionado scheme

One of the commonest ways of relocating to Costa Rica for retirees is through a scheme known as Pensionado scheme. Although being popular, the benefits have reduced over time. Individuals who wish to retire in Costa Rica due to the many Costa Rica retirement visa benefits should submit their application under this scheme - the Pensionado Scheme.

Through this scheme, an individual is granted an initial 2 years stay in the country. The pensionado scheme also allows retirees to obtain a permanent residence once the applying retirees meet the conditions for the scheme. Retirees will now qualify for citizenship after legal residence of seven years. Citizenship that is obtained through naturalization gives you the retiree the right to get a Costa Rican passport. You must know how to speak and write in the Spanish language to become a Costa Rica citizen. You will also need to pass a Costa Rica history and value test. Finally, you need two witnesses that will testify of your good livelihood and conduct. With this visa, you can establish a business. However, you can’t work as an employee.

Under this method of getting a Costa Rica retirement visa, a retiree can get extra residency for their spouse, children, and other dependents.

Costa Rica retirement visa requirements for this scheme


There are different requirements to meet for you to be eligible for this route. They include:

  • You are expected to have a fixed and guaranteed monthly income of 1, 000 United States dollars. So, you need the bank statement proof. Without this, applying for a pensionado is not possible. You can rather go for a rentista program application. The rentista program income requirements are set at 2,500 dollars each month to prove for more than two years. You can also deposit $60,000 in a local bank in Costa Rica.
  • A compulsory police clearance certificate shows that you don’t have any bad record in a police case but have been of good conduct and a law-abiding citizen. It shows you will not become a threat to people living in Costa Rica. You can get it from the local police department in your country. This police clearance certificate must be provided for every applicant, your spouse, and your children (dependents) between the ages of 15 to 25. It is of paramount importance to know that the validity of this policy clearance certificate after the date of issuance is six months. It is advisable to have every other document ready before you go to the police department to request it. If this is not done, it might expire and warrant you going to request another one. When you arrive in Costa Rica, you will go to the police unit for a fingerprint. It is used for Interpol background checking.
  • The foreign national should prove they have a lifelong pension that includes retirement funds, annuities, social security, and other retirement benefits that must be guaranteed. You can use social security income as a substitute for pension income as long you have the necessary documents to prove it.
  • This visa may include your children below 25 years or above with disabilities and your spouse.
  • The immigration department of Costa Rica is responsible for processing your application. The application is to be submitted in your residence country through your Costa Rica embassy or consulate.
  • You are required to provide your birth certificate and marriage certificate if applicable.
  • Take note: both the financial documents and non-financial documents that the immigration department of Costa Rica required for you to get a pensionado visa must be valid at least six months from the potential pensionado visa issuing date. Also, all of these documents must be in the Spanish language. It is the responsibility of the Costa Rica Embassy or consulate to do the translations to other languages.
  • You are to submit two white background photographs. The photo should be printed with high-quality passport photo paper. Avoid a smiling expression while taking the picture. You do not need to wear an eyeglass, cap, or any other headwear while taking the picture. Make sure your frontal face, eyes, and ears are visible enough.
  • A valid passport. You are to provide both the original and copy of your passport. Your passport must never be torn, frayed, or separated. If your passport doesn’t meet these requirements mentioned above, consult immediately to assist you.
  • A proof of consular registration.
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  • Medical certificate – You need to provide a medical certificate to show you are free from any disease. The World Health Organization, WHO has made it compulsory for travelers to provide yellow fever vaccination certificates. You may also need to provide a certificate or doctor’s report to show you are free from COVID-19 as it is one of the major health concerns in the world currently.

You can consult if you need assistance in applying for a retirement visa in Costa Rica using this route. It is important as knowing the Costa Rica retirement visa income required is not enough. You need a professional guide to make the application process for this pensionado scheme easier and faster.

2. Inversionista Program

The immigration department of Costa Rica has it that retirees who show they can contribute immensely to the creation of employment for citizens of Costa Rica and can offer a financial benefit to the country through direct or indirect form of investment are favored more when it comes to getting a retirement visa in Costa Rica than those who can’t show it. This means of getting a retirement visa for Costa Rica is also known as large investor residency.

A direct investment comes into an entrepreneurial activity or company in Costa Rica as a financial security investment. On the other hand, retirement funds are considered indirect investments when converted to the local currency – colones and spent in the economy of Costa Rica. The country prefers retirees with disposable income for their retirement visas. 

3. The Rentista residency

It is another way of getting a retirement visa for Costa Rica. It is also known as an income-based residency—this route of getting a Costa Rica retirement visa grants foreigners a temporary residence visa. However, for you to be eligible, you must have a constant and guaranteed monthly income. You will need to provide bank statements to show you have received a monthly income of 2500 dollars and above for the past two years. Another way is to show you have more than $60,000 in your bank. You will be required to move your funds, that is, the monthly $2,000 or entire $60,000, to a local bank in Costa Rica. Later on, you can have your money converted to local currency.

How much do I need to retire in Costa Rica?

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If you are one of those asking how much do I need to retire in Costa Rica, this article would have given you a clue by now. There is no particular amount to have. The best time to start preparing or saving up is now. You only need to know that apart from the monthly financial statements proof to provide to the Costa Rica immigration department at the embassy, there may be other little charges as you apply.

Costa Rica retirement benefits

grandpa hold tickets

"Does Costa Rica offer retirement benefits?" is a common question when the subject of a Costa Rica retirement visa is discussed. Through a social insurance fund, the country offers retirement benefits. Nevertheless, it is based on compulsory employee investments and contributions. The workers in the country, according to their jobs, must contribute to the fund for a minimum of 25 years.

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