Residency Overview

Costa Rican residency grants foreign nationals the legal right to live in Costa Rica. If you plan to permanently relocate to Costa Rica, you should become a legal resident.


Temporary Residency

Temporary residency allows foreigners the right to live in Costa Rica for a set period of time, usually one to five years. The most common types of temporary residency are Rentista (Annuity Holder), Pensionado (Retiree), and Inversionista (Investor). As of March 2010, foreign spouses of Costa Ricans must apply for temporary residency.

Temporary residents are permitted to live in Costa Rica, own a business, and collect income from a business; they may not work in their own business or as an employee. As a temporary resident, you are subject to certain annual residency requirements, and may have to exchange a required amount of dollars each month. See more on Residency Eligibility.

Permanent Residency

There are two ways to obtain permanent residency: through first-degree relation to a Costa Rican or by holding temporary residency for a period of three years. Permanent residency must be renewed every year, but does not expire. Permanent residents may legally work in Costa Rica.

A first-degree relationship includes parents and children (under age 25) of Costa Rican citizens, minor siblings of Costa Rican citizens, and parents or siblings of disabled Costa Rican citizens. As of March 2010, Immigration no longer considers marriage a first-degree relationship status; spouses of Costa Rican citizens must file for temporary residency.

If you have held temporary residency – Rentista (Annuity Holder), Pensionado (Retiree), Inversionista (Investor), or Spousal – for more than three years, you are eligible to change your residency status to permanent resident. This request will be subject to a $200 fee.


Some residents choose to cement their link to Costa Rica by applying for citizenship through naturalization. You are eligible for naturalization after two years of marriage to a Costa Rican or seven years of legal residency.

A Note on Perpetual Tourism

Tourists from the United States, Canada, and many European countries are permitted to enter Costa Rica for up to 90 days without a visa. After 90 days, they are required to exit the country for at least 72 hours.

Starting in 2013 perpetual tourists who overstay the  limit will be charged $100 for each month after the initial 90 days.

Tourists who live in Costa Rica and renew their entrance permit every 90 days are often called perpetual tourists. Perpetual tourism is not illegal, but it is not a form of legal residency . As a perpetual tourist, you will not have access to public services, such as the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (the public health system). Perpetual tourists are not allowed to legally work in Costa Rica.

*Source: US Dept of State

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Jacqueline Marie Monacell

Jacqueline Monacell is the founder and president of Your Costa Rica Contact and has been living and working in Costa Rica since 1994. She has lived and studied in Spain, traveled and worked extensively throughout Central America and is completely bilingual.

Jacqui is originally from Rochester, New York where she lived until graduating from Pittsford Mendon High School. After high school she moved to New England and attended the University of New Hampshire  where she graduated cum laude with a BA in International Affairs and Spanish. She studied abroad in both Granada and Almeria, Spain. Immediately following graduation, Jacqui moved to Costa Rica and began her career.

In 1995, Jacqueline formed a strategic partnership with Car Doc SA ( and began working as the Central American Regional Manager with Mitchell International and Mitchell, US, software solutions companies specializing in the automotive and insurance industries. In 2002 she also began managing the regional distribution of UK-based Autodata Ltd. products. Working closely with these automotive software specialists, Jacqueline acquired extensive experience in the automotive collision and repair industry at an international level.

In 2005, Jacqui began Your Costa Rica Contact, a relocation and consulting company based in San José, Costa Rica. With her experience in the automotive industry, the company initially focused on assisting clients to find dependable transportation at fair prices. Your Costa Rica Contact gradually expanded to offer a wide variety of services for people relocating or spending extended periods of time in Costa Rica.

As an expatriate herself, Jacqui understands first-hand how difficult and frustrating the transition of relocating to Costa Rica can be and so the vision of the company today is to deliver top services at reasonable prices to foreign residents or tourists provided through YCRC's industrious and trustworthy network of local professionals.

In her free time, Jacqui enjoys playing tennis, mountain biking, cooking, reading,  riding motorcycles and spending time with her husband and dogs.