Costa Rica: Retiree Residency Requirements

Requirements to apply for a Retiree Residency in Costa Rica & official translation of your documents.

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Costa Rica pioneered the retiree (“pensionado”) residency program and has been long recognized for it.  While other countries have caught up, as this article in Forbes cleverly points out, Costa Rica remains a top option amongst retirees (mainly because it is perceived to be politically and economically more stable than its counterparts).  If you are considering this option and would like a run down of the requirements, read on.

On this article, we go over the requirements you’ll need to apply for a retiree residency in Costa Rica:

Basic Requirements

  1. Request letter with the following information:
    • Given name and last name.
    • Nationality.
    • Age.
    • Occupation.
    • Address.
    • Notification preference (how would you like to be notified? -by email, fax, etc.).
    • Reason for your request (in this case, retiree residency application).
  2. Two recent photographs.  Passport-sized (5 cm x 5 cm) with a white background.
  3. Residency application fee of US$50. Bank deposit slip for US$50 paid in colones to account no. 242480-0 in “Banco de Costa Rica” (your name should appear on the deposit slip as the person making the deposit).  However, please double-check this requirement before making any payments! At the time of writing this article (March 2019) this was the amount published on the Immigration Department’s website -but the amount or account number might change in the future. Please make sure to double-check!
  4. Payment receipt of ¢125 plus ¢2,50 (that’s right, two colones and fifty cents, well “centimos”) for each page of your passport.  This receipt should also show your name as the person making the deposit. Please double-check this requirement too before making any payments!
  5. Filled-out Family Relationships or Kinship Form.  At the time of writing this article (March 2019), two versions of this form were available for download on the Immigration Department’s website here and here.
  6. Fingerprint registration receipt/proof.  This is a document issued by “Ministerio de Seguridad Pública” (Ministry of Public Security, i.e. Police Department) saying you completed the fingerprint registration process.
  7. Consular registration receipt/proof.  This is a document that proves you are registered at your country’s consulate (so it will vary depending on your nationality).  For example, our American clients usually translate their Smart Traveler Enrollment Program account info to use as proof.
  8. Birth Certificate, issued in your country of origin and duly legalized or Apostilled (depending on the country).  Also if your birth certificate and apostille were issued in a language other than Spanish, they need to be translated by an official translator in Costa Rica. Wondering what’s the deal with this whole “official translation” thing? Check out our post explaining what an official translation is in Costa Rica and who needs one.
  9. Criminal History Record.  Issued in your country of origin or the place where you have legally resided in for the past 3 years.  This should also be legalized or apostilled and translated to Spanish by  an official translator in Costa Rica if issued in a language other than Spanish.
  10. Marriage Certificate.  If you are married and are applying for residency with your spouse you’ll need a marriage certificate too (legalized or apostilled and translated to Spanish by  an official translator in Costa Rica if issued in a language other than Spanish).
  11. Valid passport and a photocopy of all pages.

Specific Requirements for the Retiree Residency Category

  1. Proof of Pension.  Applicants for the Retiree (Pensionado) Residency category need to prove they have a lifetime monthly pension of at least US$1,000 (this was the amount specified by law –article 81 of Immigration Law No. 8764- at the time of writing this article -March 2019-).  If your document or certificate was issued abroad it needs to be duly legalized or apostilled and translated by an official translator in Costa Rica if issued in a language other than Spanish.

These are some documents we have translated for our clients as proof of pension:

  • Social Security Benefits letter from the US Social Security Administration.
  • Direct Deposit Payment Statement from the Government of Canada Pension Center.
  • Letter from the Retiree Administrator (Employee Services) of a private corporation stating that the person receives a monthly lifetime pension from that company.

Document Validity Requirements

Birth and marriage certificates, criminal records, passport photocopies and other supporting documents issued in a foreign country must be duly apostilled or legalized by the corresponding country authorities or the nearest Costa Rican consulate in that country.

Also, if these documents were issued in a language other than Spanish, they need to be translated by an official translator.  Check out our post explaining what an official translation is in Costa Rica and who needs one.

At karlssontranslations we offer certified, official translations authorized by the Costa Rican Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  We offer superior legal translation services & can provide a certified translation of your documents.

For quotes: email us a photo or scan of your documents and we’ll reply with a price & time estimate.  One page documents/certificates are usually ready within 24 hours.

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Sources:

Costa Rican Immigration Law No. 8764.

List of requirements for the Retiree (Pensionado) Residency category published on the Costa Rican Immigration Department’s website.

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