This article was originally published on 20 August 2021 and was updated on 11 July 2022 to reflect new information.
8 July 2022 Update: Reports indicate that the government of Costa Rica approved regulations for a short-term remote work visa on 4 July 2022. The original draft law was approved in August 2021. For the past year, the law has undergone negotiation and revision concerning the implementation process of the digital nomad visa.
This remote work visa will be eligible to foreign nationals who are employed outside of Costa Rica or are an independent contractor who performs work for entities and persons located outside of Costa Rica. Applicants must have an average monthly salary of at least USD $3,000. However, applicants who will be accompanied by a dependent must have an average monthly salary of USD $4,000. Eligible applicants will also be required to hold proof of health insurance that will remain valid throughout the duration of stay in Costa Rica.
The remote work visa will be granted for a maximum period of one year and local employer sponsorship will not be required. The processing time of the application is estimated to take 15 business days from the date of filling.
Eligible applicants will be permitted to begin the application process once the law has been officially published in the government's official Gazette.
- On Aug. 11, 2021, President Carlos Alvarado and Minister of Tourism Gustavo Segura approved new laws supporting a Costa Rican remote work visa. The law will go into effect when published in the Official Gazette (La Gaceta), expected in the coming weeks
- The remote work visa will permit eligible foreign nationals employed outside Costa Rica (servicing personnel or entities outside Costa Rica) to live and work remotely within Costa Rican borders.
- The remote visa will be approved for up to one year, without sponsorship from local employers
- The remote visa will not permit foreign nationals to perform local remunerated work duties in Costa Rica
Additional information about the remote work visa is as follows:
- The visa is valid for one year. It may be extended one (1) time for an additional one (1) year.
- To be eligible, applicants must prove a consistent average monthly income of at least USD 3,000 (or USD 4,000 if the visa-holder has dependents) for a year prior to submission. The General Immigration Directorate may request bank statements or other documentation to verify.
- Applicants and any familial dependents must possess private medical insurance. The insurance policy must cover the full duration of their time in Costa Rica.
- The government intends to adjudicate remote work visa applications within 15 calendar days from the filing date.
- This program will offer tax benefits to the primary visa-holder. These benefits include:
- Income tax- and technical work equipment exemptions.
- Additionally, primary visa-holders will be able to use their international driver’s licenses in Costa Rica, and open savings accounts in Costa Rican banks.
- If primary visa-holders wish to renew for one (1) additional year, they must have remained within Costa Rican borders for a minimum of 180 days during the first year.
What are the Changes?
This is a new program wherein foreign nationals have options to work remotely within Costa Rican borders. Other Costa Rican work visa options require company sponsorship and/or do not automatically transfer work authorization.
This new policy will officially launch when it is published in La Gaceta, expected in the coming weeks. Furthermore, detailed information on the application process will be published in the next two months (60 days). Employers may consider this option for their employees seeking to relocate; additionally, employers can expect similar announcements to come for other countries. Remote work visas are rising in popularity due to COVID-19. Employers should stay abreast of all local labor and tax laws and pay close attention to compliance requirements.
Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.