Costa Rica digital nomad visa


Apr 12, 2024

Costa Rica, a Central American nation nestled between the Caribbean and the Pacific, has long been a favorite destination for adventure seekers from all over the world. Well known for its lush rainforests, stunning waterfalls, and rich biodiversity, Costa Rica offers more than just scenic beauty; it’s now a place where remote workers can put down roots, albeit temporarily.

Digital nomads, individuals who leverage technology to work remotely, blend their professional and travel aspirations to work from multiple locations around the globe. In an era where remote work is thriving, digital nomads are driving an increase in digital nomad visas, allowing them to set up temporary residence in a growing number of forward-thinking countries. One of the latest? Costa Rica. 

Costa Rica’s digital nomad visa allows remote workers worldwide to live and work amidst Central America’s natural wonders while contributing to the local economy. Curious about Costa Rica’s digital nomad visa, including who is eligible and how to apply? Read on for all the details.

Who is eligible for a Costa Rican digital nomad visa?

Costa Rica’s digital nomad visa is available to remote workers and their family members who meet certain eligibility criteria. Here’s what you need to know about eligibility requirements: 

General requirements

If you’re a foreign national, you can apply to the immigration subcategory of Stay (Estancia) for Remote Workers and Service Providers, also known as the digital nomad visa, if you provide paid services remotely to a person or legal entity outside of Costa Rica. You can be employed by a foreign business or individual or work as a freelancer. But you must meet income and other requirements, as outlined below.

Income requirements

To qualify for the digital nomad visa, you must have a “stable monthly income” of at least $3,000 USD for an individual or at least $4,000 USD if you will be supporting any dependents while living in Costa Rica.

Health insurance

The final requirement is that you must have healthcare coverage for the entire duration of your stay in Costa Rica.

How to apply for Costa Rica’s digital nomad visa

The application process for the Costa Rican digital nomad visa is fairly straightforward. Here’s what you need to know:

Step 1: Pay your visa application fee

Before you start the process, pay your application fee. The fee is $100 USD, which you pay to the Costa Rican government by depositing the correct amount of Costa Rican colones (according to the current exchange rate) into account no. 242480-0 of the Banco de Costa Rica. Make sure to get a receipt.

Step 2: Gather the necessary documents

Next, start gathering the required documents for the visa application. You’ll need:

  • A valid passport
  • The receipt for your application fee payment
  • Bank statements from the last 12 months proving you meet the income requirement, along with an affidavit declaring the statements were requested and obtained from a financial institution or certification issued by an accountant or notary public
  • Proof of health insurance coverage in Costa Rica for the entire duration of the visa
  • Your visa application form
  • Marriage certificate for your spouse or birth certificate for any children, if you plan to bring dependents

Any documents that aren’t originally in Spanish will need to be accompanied by an official translation.

Step 3: Fill out and submit your visa application and documents

You can fill out your application form online through the Tramite Ya digital platform (DGME) or in person by visiting a central or regional office of the General Directorate of Immigration (DGEM). If you choose to apply in person, you must also appear at the Foreign Nationals Administration Service Platform (Plataforma de Servicios de la Gestión de Extranjería) with all your required documents. 

The application form is available in Spanish and English.

Step 4: Wait for the visa to be processed and approved

Once you submit your application form and required documents, the Foreign Nationals Administration or the respective regional coordinating body has 15 calendar days to issue a written decision. If the application is incomplete, the office will issue a written notice within five days, and you have eight working days to clarify or complete the application.

Step 5: Travel to Costa Rica

Once your visa is approved, you can collect it and travel to Costa Rica. Within three months of arrival, you must register your biometrics with your local immigration office or the Ministerio Seguridad Pública in San Jose to receive your residence permit. This will require:

  • A request letter in Spanish explaining why you want to live in Costa Rica
  • Two passport photos
  • Notarized photocopies of all pages of your passport
  • An apostilled copy of your birth certificate
  • A consular registration issued by your home country’s consulate in Costa Rica (if they have one)
  • Proof of a clean criminal record from every country you’ve lived in for the past three years

Living and working in Costa Rica with a digital nomad visa

Digital nomad visa holders in Costa Rica can live in the country for up to one year, taking advantage of many benefits beyond enjoying Central America’s natural beauty. You’ll be able to open a local bank account, validate your local driver’s license, and more.

Costa Rica is politically stable, generally safe, and has a low cost of living compared to many places, making it a top choice for digital nomads, retirees, expats, and travelers. Fast internet is relatively easy to find, and there are many coworking spaces in Costa Rica’s cities. Even some of its more rural areas, like beach towns and national parks, can accommodate remote workers for extended periods of time.

Tax implications for digital nomads living in Costa Rica

Digital nomads are exempt from paying most taxes in Costa Rica, which may make it a particularly appealing destination, as this isn’t the case in every country that offers a digital nomad visa. Costa Rica offers exemptions from income taxes and import taxes for digital nomads, including income you earn while working for foreign employers or any equipment you bring into the country for work.

Keep in mind that taxes are highly dependent on each individual’s circumstances, and you should always consult a tax professional for advice on your financial situation.

Renewing or extending your Costa Rican digital nomad visa

The initial Costa Rican digital nomad visa lasts for one year. It can be renewed for an additional year, provided the visa holder meets all the requirements under Article 10 of the Regulation, Renewal of the Stay (Estancia) subcategory:

  • You must demonstrate that you were present in Costa Rica for at least 80 days of the first year.
  • You must submit a renewal application.
  • You must prove you still meet the income requirements for the visa.
  • You must pay a renewal fee of $90 USD.
  • You must have a valid passport.
  • You must prove you have health insurance coverage for the entire duration of your time in Costa Rica.

Other visa options

If you don’t qualify for the digital nomad visa (or simply want to pursue a different type of visa), the country offers many other options. See if one of these might be the right fit for you:

  • Tourist visa: Allows the visa holder to visit Costa Rica for up to 90 days. Note that you can’t work in Costa Rica (even for a foreign employer) while on this visa.
  • Pensionado (retiree) visa: Aimed at retirees. The pensionado visa requires a pension or passive income of at least $2,000 USD per month.
  • Rentista (passive income) visa: Aimed at real estate investors. This visa requires a passive income (typically from rental properties) of at least $2,500 USD per month.
  • Inversionista (investor) visa: Aimed at entrepreneurs and investors. You must invest at least $200,000 USD in Costa Rica (in real estate, businesses, stocks, etc.).
  • Work visa: This visa requires a job offer from a company based in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica digital nomad visa FAQs

How long does Costa Rica’s digital nomad visa last?

The Costa Rican digital nomad visa is initially issued for one year. You can renew it for an additional year if you meet the legal requirements.

How much does Costa Rica’s digital nomad visa cost?

The application fee for Costa Rica’s digital nomad visa is $100 USD.

Who is eligible for Costa Rica’s digital nomad visa?

Costa Rica’s digital nomad visa is available to any foreign worker who has a stable monthly income of at least $3,000 USD and can supply their own health insurance for the entire time they plan to live in Costa Rica.

How long does it take to get a Costa Rican digital nomad visa?

From the time an application is submitted, the Costa Rican government has 15 calendar days to issue a decision on whether to approve or deny a digital nomad visa.

What other countries offer digital nomad visas?

As of 2024, there are 65 countries with digital nomad visas other than Costa Rica:

  • Albania
  • Anguilla
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Aruba
  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Bali
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Bermuda
  • Brazil
  • Cabo Verde
  • Canada
  • Cayman Islands
  • Colombia
  • Croatia
  • Curacao
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Dominica
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • El Salvador
  • Estonia
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Grenada
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Latvia
  • Mauritius
  • Malaysia
  • Malta
  • Mexico
  • Montenegro
  • Montserrat
  • Namibia
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • North Macedonia
  • Norway
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Saint Lucia
  • Serbia
  • Seychelles
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Vietnam

Disclaimer: Rippling and its affiliates do not provide tax, accounting, or legal advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide or be relied on for tax, accounting, or legal advice. You should consult your own tax, accounting, and legal advisors before engaging in any related activities or transactions.

last edited: April 12, 2024

The Author

Christina Marfice

Christina is a writer, editor, and content strategist based in Chicago. Having lived and worked in Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, she’s bringing her expertise on hiring in Latin America to Rippling.