New hire checklist: A step-by-step guide to onboarding employees in Costa Rica


Jun 14, 2023

After a long search, you've found the perfect Costa Rican candidate for your open role, and it's time to offer them the job. First impressions matter. Your onboarding experience will be their first introduction to your global team's culture, and it's the perfect time to impress them.

From the get-go, a seamless employee onboarding process will translate into your new team member having clarity on their team, role, and the company's goals.

But onboarding a new employee is time-consuming and comes with many details and regulations that are integral to keeping your good standing in Costa Rica. From their first day to day 90, you need to set up a seamless pipeline of paperwork, device access, employee training, payroll, and goals for their first quarter to set them up for success.

A good option: an employer of record can help keep track of these details without having a legal entity in the country. Read our onboarding checklist below to stay up-to-date and compliant in Costa Rica.

Before their first day

  • Verify their work permit status. Whether hiring someone locally or transferring an employee to Costa Rica, you must verify the team member's ability to work legally in the country. Those not citizens or permanent residents must obtain a residence and work permit to work in Costa Rica.
  • Send the employment contract. A verbal offer is not allowed in Costa Rica, so you must create a legally compliant offer letter or employment contract. There are strict labor law requirements to follow overseen by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security when putting together an offer letter.
  • Share entitled benefits with the employee. Per Costa Rica's Labor Code, the employment contract must include benefits details about paternity leave, maternity leave, notice period, Aguinaldo or 13th-month salary in Costa Rican Colón (CRC), public holidays, social security contributions, severance pay, and more. (Check out our guide to employee benefits)
  • Protect your company with a non-disclosure agreement. Generate a legally-compliant NDA that clearly identifies the parties involved and the confidential information. The agreement must be in writing and signed without coercion before the first day.
  • Order all required devices. Purchase a computer for the new employee, and before their first day, configure and give access so the new hire can log in without issue on their first day. Use Rippling's hardware feature to make onboarding, inventory, and offboarding seamless.
  • Set up any software or apps. Along with a computer, add the new hire to all the necessary software and apps your company uses with the app manager. Since Costa Rica's primary language is Spanish, ask the new hire if they'd like their technology in Spanish or English to make them more comfortable.
  • Schedule first-week meetings. There's nothing worse than showing up on the first day and not having anything to do. Schedule the first week of meetings with other team members in different departments, 1:1s with their new manager, and other team-building exercises.
  • Assign an onboarding buddy. Have a rotating schedule of onboarding buddies so that whenever there's a new hire, someone can hop in and give insight into company culture early in onboarding. They can ask questions to their buddy and learn how to navigate everything from them.
  • Send a welcome email. A great personal touchpoint when hiring employees is the welcome email for their first day with agenda details for their first week, onboarding buddy's name, tech login information, and any final details like dress code or working hours.

On Day 1

  • Give them a warm welcome. At the office, assign a team member to welcome them in the morning and decorate their desk. Set up their workstation with their computer, employee handbook, final paperwork, and any swag.
  • Encourage the team to say hi. If their first day is virtual, schedule a few team members to say hi via Slack first thing in the morning. This gesture will make them feel welcome even virtually as they get set up for their first meetings at their new company.
  • Share the daily and weekly agenda. A welcome email first thing in the morning with the daily and weekly agenda brings clarity to their first day at the company. Here’s our guide on how to put a welcome email together. Knowing what to expect will reduce their anxiety and make them feel more comfortable while meeting everyone.
  • Manage expectations for the first week. Human resources should review any benefits offered, like health insurance, Christmas bonus, or income tax questions, to ensure the new hire knows all the details. Let them know that this first week is to get to know the company, its goals, and the team so they don’t feel pressured to perform immediately.
  • Schedule a 1:1 with their manager. The first meeting following human resources should be with their manager. Their manager will be able to share expectations, more about their duties, and share more details on goals for their role in the coming weeks. They will use this time to clear up any questions and get them settled.
  • Schedule a 1:1 with their onboarding buddy. The onboarding buddy will provide a much-needed safety net during the first week and beyond. They will guide the new hire as they go through the onboarding experience and form a bond. The buddy can also review the different departments, what they do, and any contacts they need.
  • Give an office tour if in person. An office tour to stretch their legs will be helpful to get to know the space, find any supplies and the bathroom, plus what snacks are available.

During their first 90 days

  • Set expectations with the team. Compared to the U.S., Costa Rica's business culture is way more laid-back as it is mirrored elsewhere in its culture. Relationships are crucial in business dealings, so taking the time to get to know each other is OK: schedule team-building exercises, virtual meet-ups, and in-office lunches to encourage trust.
  • Write up objectives and key results for their first quarter. Based on their role, the manager can set OKRs so they have direction regarding tasks and metrics they must reach. Deadlines, especially after the 30-day mark, will give employees more ownership as they start integrating into the team. It will also help set clarity around duties and growth in the company.
  • Onboarding buddy check-in. With so much information, it's essential to keep up with onboarding buddy check-ins to ensure the new hire navigates the company culture without issue and provides a safe space for any concerns.
  • Schedule bi-weekly manager check-ins. In Costa Rica, the probationary period typically lasts three months. There must be regular check-ins with the manager to track growth, performance, and overall sentiments about the new role. This check-in will help capture any issues before they become serious.
  • Schedule final onboarding feedback meeting. Human resources and your company should seek feedback on the onboarding process from the new hire—any blockers or issues they encounter.

Onboarding new employees in Costa Rica is easy—and fast—with Rippling

If you're going to hire employees, contractors, or remote workers in Costa Rica, you need more than just a new hire checklist: you need Rippling. 

Rippling makes it easy to onboard and manage employees and contractors around the world—in one system that helps keep you compliant with local employment laws and regulations.

And with Rippling, onboarding new employees is a breeze. Complete and verify background checks, write and send offer letters, send, sign, and store digital documents, and localize onboarding materials to your new hire's home country—all from one centralized location.

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, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any related activities or transactions.

last edited: July 13, 2023

The Author

Muriel Vega

A freelance tech and B2B writer based in Atlanta, Muriel focuses her work on human resources and workplace trends and creating engaging content for SaaS companies. She has traveled the world, but her favorite place to work is Mexico City.