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May 20th, 2012
Last Thursday, 17 May 2012, various new immigration rules (reglamentos) were published in La Gaceta, the magazine used to publish various legal notices and also where all new laws must be published before they actually become enforceable, active laws. These reglamentos (rules) clarify the actual underlying law and also state publicly how a law, (in this case immigration law) will be enforced. Should you wish to read this reglamento, click here.
I waited until I gad a chance to read the new rules myself as often what is published very quickly in CR papers may not be 100% accurate. If you wish to know more about the new Rentista form of residency, read on!
Sadly, the new rules did not address the long term question about perpetual tourism (the incorrect belief that one may legally live in Costa Rica, exiting every 90 days to “renew” their right to live here) as many had hoped. You can NOT do this (perpetual tourism) legally, regardless of what you may have read elsewhere. There simply is no such law permitting perpetual tourism. What they DID do is redefine the word “tourist”, and with that, I can see tough times ahead for those scofflaws who think they can live here without residency. More on this later.
Costa Rica has, perhaps, the most liberal residence laws of any country in the world. Their philosophy is simply. You are welcome to live here forever, but please prove that you have the finances to do so. In English, this means no mooching! I often think that is just ONE president of the US had simply had the leadership to provide some legal and reasonable routes to legal residency and citizenship, the US would not have the horrible immigration issues that they have today.
But I digress…
Costa Rica has numerous forms of legal residency, but the two that interest most people from North America, Europe and other foreign countries are pensionista and rentista. Pensionista is simply. Show you have a guaranteed and permanent source of funds equal to or exceeding $1,000 US per month. This can come from US Social Security, state or government pensions, the military, an annuity etc. Got that and you get residency. Easy and clean. You also cannot be a felon, fleeing or otherwise… a not unreasonable rule.
The other major form of residency is Rentista. Until last Thursday, Rentista required that one deposit $150,000 into a Costa Rica bank and withdraw $2,500 per month and convert that money into Costa Rica Colones. This permitted you to live in Costa Rica legally for a period of five years. Note: You did not have to spend that money, you just had to do the conversion. Still, it proved to the government that you came here with adequate funds to live here for those five years. Rentista residency included the person filing for rentista status, any spouse, minor age children and even adult children if disabled. I always thought this odd, as you sort of got a much better deal if you were married with kids. More bang for the bucks. Everyone paid the same whether single or if you had ten kids. Odd. Anyway, at the end of five years, you had to pay another $150.000 to get a five year extension. As the law allows one to upgrade to Permanent residency after 3 years, most folks simply upgraded residency to avoid this.
So what’s new?
Putting together $150,000 was, for many people, a tough thing to do. Yeah, it was their money, it would remain their money and would be used to pay their living expenses to be here… still, 150 large is not often easy to come by.
The new rules still require the $2,500 per month but one may now apply for a TWO year rentista residency, paying only $60,000 into a local bank account. They must still do the monthly withdrawal/transfer of $2,500 per month. After two years, they can pay another $60,000, then near the end of the second two years, they can upgrade to permanent residency which requires no proof of income nor any deposit. This should make it a bit easier for families who might want to move here to simply try out Costa Rica before making a permanent move.
What is a Tourist?
The new rules define tourist very narrowly. A tourist is a: “Foreign person who is authorized to enter the country solely for rest or recreation and which (who) has sufficient means of subsistence for the period of authorized stay.”
This interpretation will allow broad enforcement of those who feel they may come and go at will. As incorrectly reported elsewhere, this should not have any affect on those living here legally but telecommuting or working for companies in foreign countries. This is perfect legal so long as you DO have some form of legal residency. If you do not, then it not legal and has always been illegal and subjects the person to deportation or refused re-entry. For more info on working here in Costa Rica, read this.
For more info on Costa Rica residency, read this.
Filed under Costa Rica, Costa Rica Residency, Costa Rica Tourism, Immigration & Residency, Immigration Law, Perpetual Tourism | Comments (27)