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Sunday, October 2, 2022

Costa Rica’s New Digital Nomad Status: A Lawyer’s View

The immigration status known as Digital Nomad has finally been approved. This new process promises to be a streamlined efficient way of obtaining a very interesting and appealing immigration status.

The law that regulates this type of Visa is No.10008 dated August 11th, 2021 and the Government Decree that implements this law at the administrative level is No. 43619 dated July 4th, 2022.

This status will be classified as “Non Resident Migrant” with a subcategory of “Service Provider”. The object of these laws is to promote a longer time of visitation and an increase in the expenditure of resources by the visiting individual and his family.

A digital nomad is defined as an individual that provides remote services for a 3rd party (it can also be yourself) that is legally located outside of Costa Rica. In other words, it cannot be a person that provides remote services for a Costa Rica entity.

There is the question as to whether the status applies for individuals that provide remote services for themselves, for example, investors. In my opinion it does apply because the law only requires you to prove your income, not your employer.

The government has established a minimum monthly income requirement of $3,000.00 USD, or $4,000.00 if the applicant is requesting to add his family. The applicant will need to provide bank or financial statements or instruments that prove a year´s worth of the income indicated and a sworn statement that these documents have been issued by the proper financial authorities.

Step No. 1: You need to make a checklist of all the documents you will need to present as well as the forms you will need to fill out.

Step No. 2: You will probably start the process online. If so, you are reminded that you will have to complete the entire process online. The government prefers applicants to do so online.

Step No. 3: You must go to the “Tramite Ya” (this means “Process Now”) link https://tramiteya.go.cr/dgme/ and register and enter all the personal information requested. The government has 15 natural days (business days, which is 3 weeks) to either accept or reject the request. Once the application is received, the government has 5 working days to issue a note of prevention so the applicant can correct or clarify the requirements.

The applicant will have 8 working days to make these preliminary corrections. The law provides for 3 different forms to be filled out:

  • The form for the applicant
  • The form for dependents
  • The form for dependents with certain disabilities

NOTE: NO documentation is submitted at this time. Documentation is submitted after the application is approved.

Step No. 4: Once your application in approved, the applicant will have up to 3 months to file all necessary documentation. NOTE: The documentation IS NOT submitted until your application is approved.

Step No. 5: Once all documentation has been submitted and approved, the government will issue a ONE YEAR permit which is renewable for another year.

Step No. 6: You will have to pay a $100.00 USD government fee, an additional $90.00 government processing fee and an additional fee that will be indicated upon approval.

Step No. 7: Once the application is approved, the applicant must request an appointment to which be must appear personally and present all proper documentation, which include: applicant´s passport, proof of income, 3 different payments for government fees, health insurance for at least $50,000.00 USD for one year and all other documentation indicated.

If it is a family group the health insurance policy must cover each individual member.The governing authority for this process is the Department of Immigration (In Spanish- “Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería”, www.migracion.go.cr)

The government reserves the right to run a security check on all applicants, including all biometric measures considered necessary. All documents that are not in Spanish must be properly translated.

What are the Costa Rica Digital Nomad Tax Benefits?

This nomad status awards a 100% income tax exemption because the funds received are not considered Costa Rica funds and the individual is not considered a resident but keep in mind that the applicant may not enter the local work force or acquire local status as a worker.

The applicant may also bring, tax exempt, their personal technology instruments, such as: computers, tablets, cell phones, etc.

One of the major advantages of this new process is that it eliminates the obligation of apostilled documents, except for cases where the income is certified by a foreign CPA. Other than those documents, no other document needs to be apostilled.

About Attorney Jorge Montero

Lic. Jorge Montero B. is a bicultural lawyer born in New York City, educated in the U.S.A. and in Costa Rica.

He holds various specialties and master’s degrees in Criminal, Commercial, Environmental and Agrarian Law from the University of Costa Rica and has over 30 years of litigation, contract and counsel experience.

He would love to hear your comments and questions about the new digital nomad law in Costa Rica. You can reach attorney Jorge Montero at [email protected] or Call / WhatsApp: 506 – 8384 – 2246

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