Costa Rica's new visa seeks to attract digital nomads

A bill to attract more wealthy foreigners passed a first debate.

Less than a week after the Legislative Assembly approved a bill that will make it easier for foreigners to receive Costa Rica residency, the country has taken a significant step forward with a similar initiative.

The Legislative Assembly has passed in a first debate a project that would create an immigration category for “digital nomads,” people who can work online from anywhere in the world.

The bill was approved with 41 votes in favor and only one opposed. It must pass a second debate in the same Legislative Assembly before it can be signed by the President and made law.

The project has the enthusiastic support of the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) and many others who believe attracting wealthy foreigners will inject money into the country’s struggling economy.

“Tourists who stay for longer periods of time redistribute their money in the value chains generated by tourism,” said the Tourism Minister, Gustavo Segura.

“They make more local purchases, rent a car for several weeks or months, use services such as the beauty salon, the supermarket, restaurant, soda, laundry, greengrocer, medical services, among other businesses in the community, hence the importance of becoming an option for remote workers.”

Details: Costa Rica’s digital nomad visa

While the final text may change when (and if) the bill becomes law, here are the basic requirements and benefits outlined by Costa Rica’s digital nomad project as it’s currently written:

Who qualifies to be a digital nomad?

The person in question must meet the following requirements:

  1. Show proof of an average monthly income, during the last year, equal to or greater than $3,000. If the applicant chooses to request visa benefits for their family, a combined income of $4,000 would qualify. In either case, income should continue even if the person is not in their country of origin.

  2. Obtain medical insurance that covers the applicant (and their family, if applicable) throughout their stay in Costa Rica. Minimum coverage requirements have not yet been determined.

  3. Pay a to-be-determined amount for the visa application and processing fee.

What are the benefits to the visa?

The benefits of the digital nomad visa include the following:

  1. The visa is valid for one year. It is extendable for an additional year if the individual has remained in Costa Rica for at least 180 days of the first year.

  2. Family (e.g. a spouse, children) of the individual could also receive the digital nomad visa and take advantage of its extended-stay benefits.

  3. The individual will not be taxed in Costa Rica for income earned from their remote job. In addition, the individual can import to Costa Rica, tax-free, the equipment necessary for their job.

  4. The individual can drive in Costa Rica using their foreign license (as long as said license remains valid). They can also open a bank account in Costa Rica.

Summary: Costa Rica’s digital nomad visa

The country took a big step toward making it easier for remote workers to choose Costa Rica as their temporary home. The bill is expected to clear the remaining legal hurdles, but it may take some time before all the necessary policies are in place and Costa Rica starts issuing these visas.

Once that happens, though, the visa may help attract more wealthy foreigners to Costa Rica. For those who are already considering this country, the visa will remove some bureaucratic hassles (e.g. border runs every 90 days, banking issues).

We’ll keep you posted as this project advances!


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