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Costa Rica
Monday, May 16, 2022

Project to attract digital nomads to Costa Rica passes first debate

A law project that seeks to attract remote workers to Costa Rica has passed a first debate in the Legislative Assembly.

It must pass a second debate in the same legislative body before it can be signed by the President and made law through its publication in La Gaceta.

The bill would grant year-long visas in Costa Rica for qualifying remote workers, often called “digital nomads.”

If the bill is approved in the Legislative Assembly, remote workers could obtain a permit to stay for one year in Costa Rica, extendable for one additional year. They would also have the possibility of opening local bank accounts and could drive in Costa Rica using their country’s license, among other benefits.

“In the current situation, where tourism recovery could extend for up to three more years before returning to the pre-pandemic demand, the segment of digital nomads is key to the rebound of the sector,” said Tourism Minister Gustavo Segura.

The Tourism Board (ICT) has endorsed the digital nomad project, though some lawmakers have expressed concerns about the number of tax exemptions that would be granted to qualifying workers.

But there was little controversy during Monday’s vote — the bill passed with 41 votes in favor and only one against. (Fifteen people abstained from the vote.)

“It’s a move that other destinations in the world have already advanced,” Segura said.

Costa Rica is an “ideal destination” for digital nomads, the ICT says, because of its high internet connectivity paired with warm weather and outdoor adventures like surfing and hiking.

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

“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.”

Requirements for Costa Rica’s digital nomad visa

While the final text may change when (and if) the bill becomes law, the requirements to qualify for Costa Rica’s proposed digital nomad visa are as follows:

  1. Proof of a stable monthly salary, fixed income or a average monthly income, during the last year, for an amount equal to or greater than $3,000. If the applicant chooses to request benefits also for their family group, the income may be combined with a spouse or one of the other family members and must in that case reach the sum of $4,000. In either case, it must be income that can be continue to be received even if the person is not in their country of origin.
  2. Obtain a medical insurance policy that covers the applicant throughout their stay in Costa Rica. The General Directorate of Migration and Foreigners will determine the conditions or minimum coverage that this policy must have.
  3. Make a one-time payment for the granting of a non-resident visa, as a Worker or Remote Service Provider. The amount has yet to be determined.
  4. Any other requirement derived from the General Migration Law and
    Immigration Law No 8764.

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