Costa Rica translates to the “rich coast,” and this small Central American nation is nothing but “rich” in culture, nature, and food. Costa Rica is an extremely popular country for expat retirees, digital nomads, and tourists, which isn’t a surprise because Costa Rica has A LOT to offer.
If you are a digital nomad and you are thinking about moving to Costa Rica, you’ll be happy to find that the Costa Rica digital nomad visa allows you to do just that! In this guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about the Costa Rica digital nomad visa. We will also give you a bit of information about this beautiful country, including tax requirements for nomads, the healthcare system, and the best places to live. So, let’s get straight to it so that you can enjoy the laidback “pura vida” in Costa Rica!
A quick disclaimer: All the prices included in the article are in USD.
Does Costa Rica Have a Digital Nomad Visa?
Costa Rica has a digital nomad visa. The Costa Rica digital nomad visa was made official in July 2022 and is currently accepting applications. Here is a quick breakdown of the Costa Rica digital nomad visa:
- The Costa Rica digital nomad visa allows you to stay and work remotely in the country for 12 months, and you can also extend the visa for another 12 months.
- You must earn at least $3,000 per month to apply for the Costa Rica digital nomad visa.
- The application fee for the Costa Rica digital nomad visa is $100. You will also need to pay $50 for your residence permit and $90 for registering the application.
- Costa Rica digital nomad visa holders are exempt from paying taxes in the country.
Costa Rica Digital Nomad Visa
The Costa Rican government officially announced a digital nomad visa in 2021, but applications didn’t start processing until July 2022. Digital nomads can apply for this visa now! The Costa Rica digital nomad visa is aimed at any and all remote workers, but there are some specific requirements you’ll need to meet in order to qualify.
Costa Rica Digital Nomad Visa Requirements
- You must not work for a Costa Rican company.
- You should have a valid passport that will stay valid for the duration of the visa.
- You are required to have a minimum monthly salary of $3,000.
- If you plan to bring your family to Costa Rica, the income requirement is $4,000 per month.
- You must have travel health insurance to cover you during your stay in Costa Rica.
- You must pay the visa fee of $100, and there is also an additional $90 for registering the application.
Who Can Apply for the Costa Rica Digital Nomad Visa?
The best part about the Costa Rica digital nomad visa is that anyone can apply as long as they work remotely for a non-Costa Rican company and make more than $3,000 per month. And that’s pretty much all there is to it!
Documents Needed to Apply for the Costa Rica Digital Nomad Visa
Here are all the documents you need, including all the forms to fill out for the Costa Rica digital nomad visa.
- Valid passport
- Completed application form
- Receipt confirming you have paid the $100 application fee
- Bank statement proving your income from the past 12 months is at least $3,000 per month (or $4,000 per month if you are bringing your family)
- Filled out form: Trabajadores y Prestadores Remotos de Servicio de Carácter Internacional de Conformidad con el Artículo 88 Inciso 5) de La Ley 8764
- Filled out form: Constancia de Consentimiento Informado
- Filled out form: Formulario Solicitud de Estancia Dependientes Conyuge Pareja Hijos Solteros Adultos Mayores Ley 10008 Tramite Digital
- Filled out form: Formulario Solicitud de Estancia Dependientes Hijos Menores O Mayores Dispacidad Ley 10008 Tramite Digital
How to Apply for the Costa Rica Digital Nomad Visa: Step-by-Step Guide
Step One: Make Sure You Meet the Requirements
You obviously don’t want to waste your time applying for the Costa Rica digital nomad visa if you don’t qualify for it in the first place. Before filling out the application, make sure you meet all the requirements, which we’ve highlighted above.
Step Two: Fill Out the Application
Once you are certain that you qualify for the visa, fill out all the required paperwork. It is important to point out the application is in Spanish, so if you don’t know Spanish, you should hire someone to help you out. Also, any supporting documents you submit that are not in Spanish must be translated by an officially recognized translator.
Step Three: Submit Your Application and Pay the Fees
You can either complete the visa application online or in person. If you choose to submit it online, head to the online application portal. If you decide to submit your application in person, you’ll need to head to a migration office to present the documents. The best place to do this in person is in San Jose.
It is at this point that you will also pay all the fees associated with the Costa Rica digital nomad visa. The initial application cost is $100 + $90 for registering the application.
Step Four: Get Approved
The Costa Rica digital nomad visa is pretty quick to process. After submitting your application to the government, you’ll only have to wait between 15 and 45 days for the results. You can ensure your visa gets approved as fast as possible by submitting all the proper paperwork and providing the necessary information. Of course, the visa will take longer to process if the government has to follow up with you on missing forms. If there is an issue with your visa application, the processing office will give you 8 days to fix it. If you fail to fix the application in that time frame, your application will be declined, and you will have to reapply and pay the fees again.
Step Five: Obtain Your Residency Permit
The final step in the process is getting your residency permit. After entering Costa Rica, you have 3 months to get your residency permit. If you fail to get your permit in this timeframe, you risk your visa getting canceled. You can apply for your residency permit at any immigration office (Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería) in Costa Rica.
Extending the Costa Rica Digital Nomad Visa
The Costa Rica digital nomad visa allows you to live and work remotely in the country for up to 12 months. But guess what? If you aren’t finished with this tropical paradise after a year, you can extend the visa for another 12 months!
In order to extend your Costa Rica digital nomad visa, you will need to meet the same requirements as the standard visa, pay the fees again, and fill out the paperwork. You are also required to prove that you have stayed in the country for at least 80 consecutive days during the first visa period.
Cost of Costa Rica Digital Nomad Visa
As mentioned above, the initial cost of the Costa Rica digital nomad visa application is $100, but you will also need to pay $90 to register the application. There is also a $50 fee for getting your residence permit once you arrive in the country.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Digital Nomad Visa in Costa Rica?
Once you have submitted all the necessary documents, it should only take around 15 days to process if you have submitted everything correctly. However, it can take up to 45 days or longer if you have to submit more documents or refile documents that were filled out incorrectly.
Alternatives to the Digital Nomad Visa in Costa Rica
If you plan to find a job in Costa Rica or have already been offered a job by a Costa Rican company, then a standard work visa is for you. This is because the digital nomad visa is only for individuals who make money from OUTSIDE Costa Rica. That said, it is very rare for a foreigner to be offered a work permit in Costa Rica. The country puts lots of restrictions on issuing work permits in order to ensure as many jobs as possible go to Costa Rican citizens.
However, with that said, most, if not all, true digital nomads won’t qualify for this visa.
Another way to get a visa to live in Costa Rica long-term is to apply for an investor visa. This option essentially gives you a 2-year visa and a pathway to citizenship in exchange for an investment of $150,000 in various business sectors or $100,000 in plantations/forestry. This is extremely low compared to other investor visas, such as the USA, where you must invest at least $800,000!
Can You Work in Costa Rica as a Digital Nomad on a Tourist Visa?
Costa Rica is an easy country to visit as a tourist for many nationalities. Citizens of 35 countries can enter Costa Rica for up to 90 days without a visa, and a further 33 nationals can enter for 30 days visa-free. But, while you can freely roam the country, living it up on beaches or in the rainforest, you aren’t actually legally allowed to work, and this INCLUDES remote work.
This surprises many digital nomads, as many find out they are working illegally in the country. But it’s the unfortunate truth. Even though your money is technically coming from outside the country, you are still earning while on Costa Rican soil. And Costa Rican law forbids you from working remotely on a tourist visa.
This is obviously a bit of a gray area as many digital nomads carry out remote work in various countries across the globe on various tourist visas, and many governments tend to gladly look the other way. But, on paper, this is not allowed, and you should definitely get a digital nomad visa if you plan to work while living or staying in Costa Rica long-term.
Tax Requirements for Digital Nomads in Costa Rica
Now for every digital nomad’s least favorite thing. Taxes.
Working through international tax laws and ensuring you stay compliant with the country you reside in and any other countries you may be a tax resident of can be a huge pain. So, the tax complexities in a digital nomad country can really make or break a destination.
Costa Rica earns a ton of points in this regard because digital nomads are NOT required to pay any tax on income earned from employers located outside the country. This doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t pay any tax at all, as you will likely have to pay tax in your home country. But you won’t have to deal with filing taxes in Costa Rica at the very least!
Is Costa Rica a Good Place for Digital Nomads?
Costa Rica is a gorgeous country with a tropical climate that brings warm weather all year round. Costa Rica also has amazing food, a relaxed culture, and tons to do. So, it should be no surprise that many digital nomads and tourists alike are flocking to this beautiful destination.
|Relaxed lifestyle. Costa Rica boasts a slower pace of life and can really help you enjoy the small things. As Costa Ricans call it, that’s the “pura vida” or pure life.
|Slow pace of life. The relaxed lifestyle can also be a downside. Things move slowly here, with many services taking MUCH longer than in other countries. This can be hard to get used to when you first move to the country.
|Warm weather all year. Located in the tropics, you’ll never experience any cold weather or winters in Costa Rica.
|Natural disasters. Costa Rica has 6 active volcanoes, experiences frequent earthquakes, and is under yearly threat of hurricanes and flooding.
|Best healthcare in Central America. Costa Rica boasts an extensive public healthcare system with the best hospitals and doctors in Central America.
|Road infrastructure. Costa Rica is lacking in terms of road infrastructure. Many of the non-main roads are unpaved, and a 4-wheel drive car is all but necessary for living here.
|Safest country in Latin America. Compared to many of its neighbors, Costa Rica is very safe with a relatively low crime rate.
|Bugs. One of the biggest downsides of living in a tropical region is the insects. The country is full of mosquitos, ants, spiders, scorpions, and other creepy crawlies that will get you squirming.
Is Costa Rica Safe for Digital Nomads?
Costa Rica is a safe country for digital nomads compared to many countries around the world. In fact, it is the safest country in Latin America, according to the Global Peace Index, and the second safest in North America (just after Canada). This is not to say that Costa Rica is the safest country in the world. You will still need to be careful to avoid petty crime, especially in San Jose. Additionally, violent crime rates, such as murder, assault, and sexual assault, are relatively high.
As with most other countries, as long as you stay street-smart and make safe choices, you should be safe in Costa Rica.
Best Places to Live in Costa Rica for Digital Nomads
Costa Rica is a small country that is packed with amazing destinations for both tourists and digital nomads. From the urban landscapes to laidback beach towns and jungle villages, this county has something for every type of traveler.
San Jose is the bustling capital of Costa Rica and the only city with more than 1 million people. This city is a popular location for digital nomads looking for all the comforts of city life. One of the major benefits of living in the capital is that you are close to everything, with larger supermarkets, movie theaters, and shopping malls at your disposal. The city also has better infrastructure and public transportation than the rest of the country. But many digital nomads in Costa Rica often choose other locations, seeking out a more laid-back lifestyle by the beach or in the jungle.
Calling all beach bums! Santa Teresa is the go-to destination for Costa Rica digital nomads who want to embrace the “pura vida.” In Santa Teresa, you can find beautiful beachside villas for a reasonable price (at least by Costa Rican standards). Furthermore, here, digital nomads can spend days surfing, lazing on the beach, and enjoying the gorgeous, laid-back lifestyle of the Costa Rican coast. Santa Teresa gets surprisingly good wifi, but you should expect amenities like grocery stores to be a bit lacking. This is a small town with a population of only around 3,000 people. So, if you are expecting the infrastructure and facilities of a larger city, you may consider a different destination.
Costa Rica is known for its beautiful beachside villages, but if the ocean isn’t really your thing, don’t worry! La Fortuna is a picturesque town in northern Costa Rica near some of the most beautiful natural areas in the country. Nearby La Fortuna, you’ll find volcanoes, national parks, jungles, lakes, hot springs, and more! La Fortuna is a small town, but it has a good amount of digital nomad-friendly infrastructure, such as coworking spaces and expat-friendly accommodations.
Jaco is another amazing destination for digital nomad surfers and beach bums. But compared to Santa Teresa, Jaco is much less laid back and much more of a party town. Jaco offers a pleasant mix of socialization and a connection to nature. The town is the gateway to several national parks, but it also has a lot going on in the town itself. That said, Jaco can get VERY crowded during the tourist season. So, it might not be the best option for nomads looking for peace and quiet on the beach.
Heading to the other side of Costa Rica to the Carribean coast is another sleepy beach town that is yet to become as bustling and popular as Jaco. But if you are seeking solitude on a tropical beach in Costa Rica, Puerto Viejo might be the best destination for you. This town is the best example in Costa Rica of “pura vida” and is an amazing place to relax. That said, Puerto Viejo is a bit isolated from the rest of the country. The nearest hospital is 1.5 hours away, and the road conditions are pretty bad (even compared to the rest of the country).
Cost of Living in Costa Rica for Digital Nomads
One of the main disadvantages of living in Costa Rica as a digital nomad is the cost of living. Costa Rica is by no means the most expensive country in the world. But when compared to the rest of Latin America or other popular digital nomad hotspots, Costa Rica is pricey. That said, it is still a more affordable destination than many places, such as Western Europe, the USA, and Australia.
Rent will be a major expense in Costa Rica, averaging around $700 to $1,000 per month for a one-bedroom apartment. Groceries are reasonable, but the prices can be higher in more remote destinations. On average, a digital nomad will spend around $150 to $400 per month on groceries.
Eating out at restaurants is the biggest hit to the finances. You can find budget local meals for around $6, but anything else will cost upwards of $10. So, if you are on a tighter budget in Costa Rica, skip eating out and cook at home!
Healthcare in Costa Rica for Digital Nomads
Costa Rica has a fairly extensive healthcare system. Not only does the nation have some of the best healthcare in Latin America, but it also ranks among the world’s top countries when it comes to quality healthcare. There are two systems for healthcare in Costa Rica: a public one and a private one. Costa Rica digital nomad visa holders are not considered residents and do not contribute to the public health system. Therefore, they do not receive free healthcare under the public system. But digital nomads in Costa Rica must have health insurance that covers them for the duration of their stay in the country.
Check out our list of the 10 best insurance options for digital nomads!
While the actual cost of medical care as a digital nomad in Costa Rica will vary depending on the insurance coverage you opt for, the healthcare system is reasonably affordable for foreigners, especially compared to the United States. For example, a doctor’s visit will cost around $40 to $100.
Best Coworking Spaces in Costa Rica
While you can certainly work from home, you can enhance your working experience in Costa Rica by working at a coworking space. Coworking spaces make it much easier to concentrate on your work while also giving you the opportunity to connect with other expats and digital nomads. Here are some of the best coworking spaces in Costa Rica.
- Selina (Jaco, La Fortuna, San Jose, + many more locations) – Selina is easily the biggest coworking space and digital nomad accommodation company in Latin America. Pricing varies and may be included in your stay if you book accommodation with Selina.
- In The Shade (Tamarindo) – Costs $25 per day, $98 per week, or $350 per month. The space includes a cafe and a pool.
- Puerto & Co (Puerto Viejo) – Costs $15 per day, $40 per week, or $150 per month. Large space with a vegan cafe, lounge, and a strong wifi connection.
- Gracias (San Jose) – Costs $20 per day or $150 per month (also a casual option offered for $50). Gracias offers amazing coffee and clean, well-managed coworking spaces.
How to Find a Place to Live in Costa Rica
One of the first steps you’ll need to take after getting your Costa Rica digital nomad visa is finding a good place to live. This can be super easy if you are looking for a place in a major hub, but it will be a bit more challenging if you are looking for an apartment in a more remote area. Here are some tips and important things to look out for when finding digital nomad-friendly places to stay in Costa Rica.
- High internet speeds: If you work from home, you want to have a fast and reliable wireless connection. Luckily, Costa Rica has extremely fast internet speeds across the entire country. Still, it is good practice to test the internet speed of your apartment before you sign anything.
- Workspace: You can opt for a coworking space membership instead of investing in a good workspace in your home, but some nomads prefer an at-home work setup. Plus, it’s good for those rainy days when you’d prefer to stay at home.
- Utility prices: A landlord may quote you a super good price for the apartment, but this may mean the utilities (gas, electricity, and water) are expensive. Utility prices vary across the country, so make sure you have a good idea of how much you’ll pay before you sign a contract.
- Be prepared to bargain: More often than not, the original price you are quoted in Costa Rica is not the “best” price. Before agreeing on the price, bargain a bit with the landlord; 9 times out of 10, you’ll be able to get a discount.
- Good location: Location is one of the most important things to look at when looking for a place to live. After all, what is the point of living in an awesome place if your apartment is miles away from all the action?
Where to Find Apartments in Costa Rica?
Here are a few of the best ways to find apartment listings in Costa Rica.
Word of Mouth
Call us old-fashioned, but this is actually a great way to find good deals on apartments or accommodation in many places around the world, including Costa Rica. Chances are, when you arrive in the country, you are going to quickly link up with other digital nomads and expats. This immediately gives you access to a network of nomads already in the country and connections for finding apartments and other advice!
Rental Listing Sites in Costa Rica
Another way to find a place to live in Costa Rica is to use local apartment listing sites. These tend to have decent prices, especially if you use sites that are in Spanish. Avoid ones that are geared toward expats and digital nomads, as they tend to be much more expensive. Below are a few of the best rental listing sites to use in Costa Rica.
Join Facebook Groups
Facebook groups are another excellent way to find accommodation, as well as network with other digital nomads in Costa Rica. Joining these various apartment-hunting Facebook groups in Costa Rica will also give you a feel for how much rent should cost in cities and regions around the country.
Travel Accommodation Sites
We don’t typically endorse travel accommodation sites for digital nomads. They are generally more expensive and can contribute to rising living costs in digital nomad destinations, such as Costa Rica. To read more about this, check out our digital nomad ethics guide.
These can help, though, especially when you first arrive in the country or are only planning to be in Costa Rica short-term (less than one month).
The Pura Vida Awaits!
The Costa Rica digital nomad visa allows you to live it up and enjoy an absolutely gorgeous country. As long as you meet the income requirements and don’t work for a Costa Rican company, you will qualify for this visa. So, what’s stopping you?
Want to know more about other countries you can get a digital nomad visa? Click here for our full list!