The digital nomad visa provides the freedom to work remotely while living away from your home country, granting you the legal right to do so.
At Remitly, our team created this guide to help you learn about the benefits, requirements, and application process for getting a digital nomad visa in the beautiful country of Costa Rica.
Benefits of being a digital nomad in Costa Rica
Tropical work environment
Working in Costa Rica is a fantastic option if you enjoy a laid-back lifestyle in a temperate climate with beautiful beaches and majestic mountains. This mountainous country is located between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean in Central America, with miles of sandy shoreline and mangrove forests.
Living and working in Costa Rica provides endless opportunities for a healthy work-life balance. You can work from your laptop while sitting on the beach, take a break and go for a quick swim, or do some hiking between work assignments.
It’s also important to note that you’ll receive a full income tax exemption if you’re a digital nomad.
While in Costa Rica, it’s an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in the country’s rich culture and traditions. Aside from exploring the natural beauty, check out the plethora of unique art, like handmade earthenware pottery and colorful painted ox carts.
Visit the National Theater in central downtown San Jose to see live music, ballet, and other performances.
Costa Rica offers an excellent variety of foods, especially seafood, an important part of the culture. Be sure to try a variety of seafood dishes, grab some fried plantains, and try the popular casado plates featuring chicken, fish, or shrimp with rice.
Costa Rica also hosts year-round fiestas that feature dancers in colorful costumes, parades, and rodeos.
Community and networking
When you receive your digital nomad visa, it’s important to connect with your fellow digital nomads so you can learn and explore together. Look for online groups and forums where you’ll find other nomads also staying in Costa Rica.
Watch for local meet-ups where you can talk to other nomads in person. You can also organize a fun get-together where you participate in local and international events together. It’s a great way to feel connected to others and make friends while learning about this fascinating country.
Eligibility criteria for the Costa Rica digital nomad visa
Defining digital nomads
Digital nomads have excellent time-management skills and a working knowledge of technology. These professionals rely on the Internet to perform their roles, and many different jobs can be part of the digital nomad space.
Some common roles of digital nomads include:
- Writers, bloggers, and copywriters
- Web and graphic designers
- Remote technical and customer support agents
- Videographers and photographers
- App developers
- Project managers
- Marketing consultants
- Digital entrepreneurs
You must have some financial requirements to receive digital nomad visas for Costa Rica. Aside from proving that you’ll receive a foreign income, you must prove that you have a stable monthly income of at least $3,000.
If you’re working and living in the country with your family, you must have a minimum monthly income of $4,000. You are also not allowed to work for a Costa Rican company while on the digital nomad visa.
You’ll need to provide all the documents that clearly show all of the income you receive. This may include recent bank statements, pay stubs, and a signed employment contract, if applicable.
You must have an active health insurance policy that covers the entire period of your legal stay to be a digital nomad in Costa Rica. This policy must include coverage that takes care of all medical expenses if you get sick or injured, with a minimum coverage amount of $50,000. This requirement applies to each family member if they will be with you.
Your health insurance policy must be validated and authorized by the Office of the Superintendent General of Insurance of Costa Rica. The policy may be obtained through one of the companies approved by the office mentioned above, or you can purchase an international policy on your own.
Before you start the visa application process, gather a few supporting documents and ensure they’re complete and accurate. These documents will include:
- A current foreign national’s valid passport
- Proof of insurance coverage with a minimum coverage amount of $50,000
- Travel insurance documents
- A completed visa application form
- Proof of accommodation (or evidence of where you will be staying)
- Employment contract and declaration letter stating that you’re allowed to work remotely in a third-party country
- Proof of financial means and monthly earnings via bank account statement
- If you’re bringing dependents, you must include a declaration form providing information about each dependent
The online application form is the best way to get your digital nomad visa for Costa Rica approved as quickly as possible. Once you complete it and upload all the required documents, the Foreign Nationals Administration will make a decision within 15 days.
If your application is missing any information, you’ll receive a notice from the Costa Rican government within no more than five calendar days and get an opportunity to make corrections or provide anything you left out.
The 15-day approval period will start over after this time. The application will be rejected if you don’t submit the requirements listed in the notice within eight working days.
The application fee for a remote workers visa is $100 and must be paid via check and deposited to the Banco de Costa Rica before you submit your application. All documents must be translated into Spanish and will cost an additional fee. You’ll also need to pay $90 to register the documents officially with Costa Rican authorities.
If you’re applying for a residency permit, it costs $50 and another $3.75 per additional page of documents submitted. These costs help cover the cost required to legally register all of your documents. It’s highly recommended that you use an official Costa Rican translator to translate everything before you submit it.
Living and working in Costa Rica
Whether you’re planning to live in Costa Rica for a short or long time, plenty of excellent housing resources are available. Start by looking for long-term Airbnb rentals, join digital nomad Facebook groups, and consider a hostel if you’re staying for a short time or you’re on a tight budget. Research a local website that offers rentals, including apartments or condos, like Encuentra24.
San Jose is Costa Rica’s capital city, with lots to offer, including dining, shopping, and entertainment. Many digital nomads live in Santa Teresa due to its low cost of living. Another popular city to consider is Playa Hermosa if you want to immerse yourself in the beach nomad lifestyle.
Having access to reliable high-speed Internet is crucial if you need to use personal computer equipment while working as a digital nomad.
Costa Rica has several cable companies like TeleCable and Tigo, and most offer Internet services. Starlink, a satellite Internet service, will launch in Costa Rica soon.
You can also use a coworking space to use the Internet, so you don’t have to pay separately. Unless you’re living in a remote part of the country, Costa Rica has a robust digital infrastructure with various Internet providers and plans to choose from.
Navigating daily life
Many people get around the main regions of Costa Rica by bus, and some of the major bus lines run through the city of San Jose. Taxis and Ubers are also common methods of transportation. If you don’t live far from things like shopping and dining, you can also purchase a bike.
The cost of living for things like groceries and rent varies from city to city. If you enjoy outdoor activities like swimming, fishing, hiking, and horseback riding, you’ll find plenty of fun things to do.
For those who want to live near conveniences like grocery stores and restaurants, it’s recommended that you live in one of the country’s major cities.
Renewal and extension process
The initial validity period of your digital nomad visa is typically one year, while a standard tourist visa is good for 180 days. To renew or extend your nomad visa, you must visit the Costa Rican consulate with all required documents before it expires.
Make sure you inform them of your desire to extend the visa and be prepared to complete a new application along with the required fees.
If you have a change in income, health insurance coverage, or other status, you must inform the consulate as soon as possible. You must remain in compliance with all of the country’s most recent visa rules and regulations.
As a digital nomad, you’ll receive the rentista visa instead of the Costa Rica work visa, which is for direct employees instead of freelancers or contractors.
Exiting and re-entering
You may leave and return to Costa Rica as often as you like as long it’s within the valid visa period. Your passport must include a Costa Rican entry and exit stamp showing every time you’ve left and re-entered the country.
Make sure that your visa remains valid while you’re gone for a seamless travel experience.
The digital nomad trend is on the rise now that more companies allow remote workers to work from anywhere. If you’ve had the travel bug and are ready to visit Costa Rica while retaining gainful employment, a digital nomad visa could be right for you.
Obtaining a Costa Rica digital nomad visa provides you with many tax benefits and more, including a beautiful environment, a rich culture, and a healthy work-life balance.
Remember these tips to ensure your visa application goes through smoothly.
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