If you, or your spouse, are receiving a lifetime monthly pension of at least $1,000 USD per month (individually) you could qualify for temporary residency as a retired person, or pensionado, in Costa Rica.
Under this category, the principal applicant is allowed to obtain residency for additional family members such as spouse, parents, and children. While the $1,000 USD will cover the family, you cannot combine the spouse’s pensions to reach the minimum $1,000 USD.
Below you’ll find a detailed overview of the application process, as well as the fees and expenses.
The application process for temporary residency takes between 12 and 15 months, depending on the processing time of the Costa Rica Immigration department (DGME), which takes approximately 9 months to analyze the application.
Our team will guide you through the process from start to finish, including CAJA (Costa Rican Social Security) registration and DIMEX (Costa Rican ID for residents) procurement. Plus, depending on the level of service you choose, we can also assist with document procurement and residency renewal at a discounted rate.
First, we will work with you to verify the main requirement. The pensionado category is available to foreign nationals who are currently receiving a lifetime pension (or retirement income) of at least $1,000 USD per month. The pension or retirement income can come from a government retirement program such as US Social Security, or from an independent retirement program such as workers’ union, or a pension program from a private company.
If your retirement income comes from various sources, you are still eligible, as long as the income from those sources adds up to at least $1,000 USD per month. If you retired because of disability, you can still qualify as long as you receive the $1,000 USD per month.
People who retired from the military also qualify for this category as long as they meet the income requirement.
The main requirement to file under this category is a letter, issued by the applicable pension provider, stating that the applicant receives a lifetime monthly pension of X, where X must be equal to or greater than $1,000 USD.
The first two to three months of the application process are spent collecting the documents required for the residency application. It is important to collect all the required documents during this time frame, as documents from abroad must be issued within six months of filing. Our team will work closely with you to ensure all documents are valid, translated, and ready for review by the DGME.
The following documents are required for filing an application for residency in Costa Rica.
Take advantage of the discounted document procurement rates we offer our immigration clients. Let our experienced team obtain the vital record(s) and background check(s) you need from abroad, or you can choose to obtain the following documents on your own. Keep in mind, documents from abroad must be issued within six months of filing the application for residency, and be translated into Spanish.
Preparation of the following documents required for filing the application for temporary residency as a retired person is included in the quoted cost of our service.
Once our team has compiled all the documents required, we perform a final review, then file the application with the DGME. The application must be filed before the expiration of the tourist stamp on your passport (usually valid for 90 days) or the expiration of the documents.
We must file a copy of your passports, including your entry stamps since you must have legal status when applying for residency. Consequently, a visit to Costa Rica and the necessary border runs (exits and re-entries to receive a fresh entry stamp), if applicable, are mandatory to even file.
By law, the DGME should process the application within 90 days. However, based on recent processing times, the DGME is currently taking between 9 and 12 months for processing applications. During this time we regularly check the status of the application to ensure the case is moving forward as expected.
During the analysis period, you can remain in Costa Rica. Border runs will only be required if you plan on driving, as you must have a valid entry stamp to drive.
The DGME issues an approval notice via email, once the approval notice is received we will reach out to you to schedule the next steps!
Once your application has been approved the DGME, you will need to make a refundable security deposit to the DGME dependent on the estimated cost to cover return travel to your home country should it be required. Since the guarantee deposit varies by nationality, we do not include this cost in our quoted fees and expenses. You can find a full list of deposit amounts by home country on our blog here.
Once the application has been approved, we will proceed with your mandatory registration with the CCSS for the Social Security system (also known as CAJA). In addition, we will obtain the ID for foreigners (DIMEX aka cédula). We will schedule a time to go with you to complete each of these processes in the GAM (San José Metro Area) or Liberia. Additional fees will apply for DIMEX and CCSS appointments at offices outside the GAM (San Jose Metro Area) or Liberia.
Your DIMEX will arrive in the mail one or two weeks after it has been requested. Then you’ll officially be a resident of Costa Rica, with an ID card to prove it!
Temporary residency under the Pensionado Category is valid for two years. It can be renewed for additional two-year periods. After three years, you will become eligible for permanent residency. Our Beyond payment options were created with the renewal requirement in mind, pay in full upfront for your residency plus one renewal and save $311!
Temporary residents under the pensionado category cannot legally work in Costa Rica. Permanent Residents are allowed to legally work in the country.
Our fees for application for temporary residency as a pensionado are flexible and comprehensive. We include all the standard fees and expenses in our pricing, with the intention of making the process as easy as possible for you.
There are three items not included in our pricing, both of which vary on a case by case basis, making it impossible to include in an all-inclusive service for our clients.