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So, you want to become a ‘Tico’? This is an affectionate nickname that many Costa Ricans use to refer to themselves because of a linguistic habit of adding tico/tica to the end of words in Costa Rican Spanish. Who can blame you for wanting to move to Costa Rica? It’s warm, sunny, friendly, and filled with amazing rainforest and wildlife.

Before you pack your maleta (suitcase), you’ll need to know what documents you need to bring with you.

Your Passport

Those coming as Canadian (or U.S.) citizens are not required to acquire a visa to enter the country as a tourist for a stay of up to 90 days. Simply have your passport stamped. Note that your passport must be more than six months away from expiration and cannot be damaged or you may be denied entry into the country. You will also need to present proof that you will be exiting the country within 90 days, in the form of documentation such as a plane ticket with a destination elsewhere. Many people repeatedly do this and simply re-enter the country a short time later, but there are no guarantees that you will be readmitted through this travel loophole, and it’s better to seek out a lengthier solution during your first 90 day stay.

Immunization Records

If you have stamps in your passport indicating that you have travelled to Asia, Africa, or South America you may be required to bring a World Health Organization Card (WHO CARD) or a doctor’s letter as proof of your yellow fever immunization.

Driver’s License

Generally Canadian driver’s licenses will remain valid for you to rent and drive a car in Costa Rica for shorter stays. Those staying longer will want to explore obtaining a Costa Rican license after they attain a residence visa.

Getting a Visa As Retirees

Seniors retiring in Costa Rica need to provide proof that they have at least 1K per month of income coming in from a recognized pension plan (like a teachers’ pension that comes in every month). Those who don’t have a fixed retirement plan, but have savings, can provide proof they have at least $2,500 income coming in for at least 24 months, or simply deposit $60,000 in an Immigration Authority Approved Costa Rican Bank. Those who wish to invest 200K in a home, business, or residential property in Costa Rica can obtain residence under the Inversionista Program (for investors).

Beyond Documentation, A Hired Lawyer

This is an attorney who specializes in immigration to Costa Rica, and will help you sort out your visa quickly, organize your paperwork, all without unnecessary delays. Most government officials will not be able to speak English, so if your Spanish is rusty, your attorney can speak on your behalf and translate for you.

Other Documentation

While your lawyer will be able to help you assemble your documentation, you can get started by gathering the following standard items including: an immigration application form, a receipt showing you have deposited money in the Banco de Costa Rica to pay for your application (this is noted to be $50 when applying from Canada or $250 if applying while visiting on your tourist visa), a letter explaining why you want to live in Costa Rica, proof of registration within the Canadian Embassy in Costa Rica, proof of fingerprinting by the Ministry of Public Safety, your birth certificate, marriage certificate (if applicable), your Police Record. Note: documents must be authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs of the government.

Bienvenido a casa/Welcome Home!
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