Costa Rica rules and regulations checklist

By Garland M. Baker

Costa Rica rules and regulations often change, confusing most people. What better way to clear the panorama than to have a checklist to mark off what is okay and what is not. The best policy in this country is to avoid problems by catching them before they fester.

For those owning a company these are the important things to track: 1.) the company’s records at the Registro Nacional, 2.) the status of the company at Hacienda (the tax department) and 3.) the status of the company at the Banco Central regarding its RTBF report.

For anyone who still does not know what that is, RTBF is short for Registro de Transparencia y Beneficiarios Finales. The phrase translates into English as transparency and final beneficiaries register. The report was due in April, but the government extended the deadline to May 31 due to COVID-19.

For those owing property in their personal name or in a company, these things should also be checked: 1.) taxes at the municipality and 2.) if there is a water concession on the property, verify it is up-to-date with MINAE, the water directorate.

Here is the checklist:

The Registro Nacional is where the country keeps all the information on companies, and properties, among many other things. Anyone with a company should go to the website, open an account and buy a document called a certificación literal and check to see if the people who are part of the company are the only ones there. Sometimes others with no business being part of the entity have full power of attorney and could potentially steal all the assets. The document can also be obtained at any bank or post office for a small fee of around $10.

Most owners miss this one, and it is critical. Check a company’s status at SIT, which stands for situación tributaria. In English, this means tax situation. The system could not be simpler to use. One selects the type of identification, for companies this is a cedula jurídica, and type in that number. After answering the human verification test, the tax profile of the company will appear.

Here are the things to check: 1.) Is the company moroso, which mean behind on its tax obligations, 2) is it omiso, which means it is negligent and has not filed required tax returns and 3.) does the company have

representantes legales, or legal representatives. This last one goes back to the filing of the infamous D-140 form of years past. If that form was not filed, there will be nothing under that section. Even if the form was filed, there might be nothing there because the tax department never updated the information.

Licenciada Xochilt Quezada, a public accounting professional, said in an interview, “. . . anyone behind, negligent, or without a legal representative should contact an accountant as soon as possible because tax fines are high, but there are ways to mitigate them, if problems are caught early.”

Check a company’s status at the Banco Central is another easy task. Go to the website, type in the company’s identification cedula jurídica, click the no soy un robot (I am not a robot) question and read what it says. If the text after the company’s name states, envió la declaración, everything is fine, if the response is NO envió la declaración, the owner of the company should contact a legal professional as soon as possible. The fine for not doing so is bank breaking.

Companies and individuals owning property should also check to see if their property taxes are up to date. This is a little more tricky. Property taxes are paid at the municipality where the property is located. Some municipalities are current with technology, and the information can be obtained from their websites or at the Banco Nacional de Costa Rica (BNCR), or the Banco de Costa Rica (BCR). Others still work in the Stone Age, and a phone call to their office is necessary. A complete list of Costa Rican municipalities can be found at this link.

Most properties have AyA (city water) or Asada (community) water, but some have a well, use river water or have another type of concession. If a property has water, the bill is probably current because AyA and Asadas are relentless about turning it off when the bills are not paid. Those with a well, river water, or other type of concession can check the status of their contract with the country at MINAE by typing in the type of concession and contract number.

There it is, a checklist to stay out of trouble with the Costa Rican government. It is simple really: 1.) be sure the persons on a company are the only ones registered by checking the Registro Nacional, 2.) stay on top of taxes by periodically reviewing the information at the tax department using situación tributaria, 3.) stay friends with the Banco Central by filing the required RTBF form, and verifying it is correct, 4.) pay property taxes due at the local municipality and finally 5.) checking water concessions with MINAE.

Staying on top of these matters guarantees a better night sleep and peaceful living in Costa Rica.

Editor’s note: Garland M. Baker solves problems for expats in Costa Rica. He is a 49-year resident and naturalized citizen. Reach him at [email protected] Baker has undertaken the research leading to his articles with A.M. Costa Rica. Find the collection at A free reprint is available at the end of each piece. Copyright 2021. Use without permission prohibited.

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The coast-to-coast hike across Costa Rica

While spending more than two weeks hiking Camino de Costa Rica, a 280-kilometer trail from Costa Rica’s Atlantic to Pacific coasts, the country’s natural beauty took a surprising backseat for Eduardo Cartin.

Cartin, a Tico, remembered the human interactions that were the highlight of his 16-day journey from the Caribbean coast to the trek’s conclusion in Quepos.

“In addition to the scenic trail, being able to experience the microclimates, the mountains, the views, the volcanoes, the tropical rainforests, the dry forests and the cloud forests was so incredible,” he said.

“But the human contact is invaluable, and it’s something very beautiful.”

And that’s Camino de Costa Rica’s goal. The coast-to-coast trail is the creation of Asociación Mar a Mar, a nonprofit with an objective to promote sustainable economic development in rural villages that typically don’t receive many tourists.

Many of the hike’s overnight stops are at families’ houses, where the group spends the evening learning the family business or participating in cultural activities.

“It was an experience full of blessings, sometimes of miracles, and of a lot of caring,” Cartin said. “Many families received us as if we were their long-lost sons. They received us as a family, to share in their houses and cultural activities.

“All the encounters with those people are priceless, because they treat you like family, like a brother. Being able to support those families […] was invaluable.”

Stops include Valle Escondido, home to members of the Cabécar indigenous group, and a community which is only accessible via boat.

“I really appreciated the aspect of bringing tourism to the rural parts of the country, and to be able to be a part of that was very meaningful to me,” said Caryn Steele, who completed the journey with her husband Keith.

The route itself is comprised mainly of rural roads, but several sections have the option to take a forest trail. Most days feature (relatively) easy hikes of about 15 kilometers, but five segments have more advanced attributes.

Along the way, hikers will experience firsthand Costa Rica’s biodiversity. Jan Tuinstra, who has lived in Costa Rica for 37 years, said a highlight was spotting a flock of about two-dozen great green macaws — a notable occurrence given the species’ recent rebound from critical endangerment.

“We saw a lot of Costa Rica that we normally don’t see,” he said, “and just sharing this with all these friends was great, great, great.

“It was an experience that anyone should do.”

Thanks Alexandro Zuniga for sharing this amazing experience.

New 2021 Obligations for Corporation Holders in Costa Rica


By Allan Garro

During the next weeks, all those Expats who have a corporation in Costa Rica will have to fulfill some obligations that are relatively recent, making important to take them into account in order to avoid problems and headaches. Certainly, having a corporation is no longer as simple as it was a few years ago, but it still offers advantages, and it is a matter of organizing yourself with the fulfillment of the new obligations. Here we mention some important aspects whose compliance must be properly verified.

Tax on Corporations. Since 2017 there is an annual tax named Impuesto a las Personas Juridicas or Tax on Corporations. This tax was due in January of this year. The amount to pay was approximate 69,000 colons (around US$118 at present time) for Inactive corporations. It increases for Active corporations depending on their annual sales. Not paying this tax for three years in a row will cause that the government proceeds dissolving it. It also generates a small delinquent interest calculated on a daily basis.

Final Beneficiary Report. During April 2021 it is mandatory to perform again the Final Beneficiary Report to Central Bank. This report is to disclose the stockholders of each corporation. In case the stock belongs to another corporation it is necessary to disclose who are the stockholders on that other corporation, until persons are reached. All registered corporations must make the report, which includes corporations or SAs, Limited Liability Corporations or Limitadas, Civil Companies and Foreign Companies’ branches.

Although the information provided will not be publicly accessible, it will be for the Tax, Judicial, Public Security and other related authorities to prevent fiscal fraud, money laundering and similar activities. Every time the stock changes ownership it is necessary to proceed updating the information. Here it is important to take into account that, when more than fifty percent of the capital stock is transferred, the tax authorities can consider this as a transfer of the existing properties and collect the respective transfer tax.

The persons obligated to make the report are: The President in Corporations or SAs, the Manager on Limited Liability Companies or Limitadas, the appointed Proxy in branches of Foreign Companies and the Administrator in Civil Companies. To make the report, a digital signature certificate is required. It is a gadget similar to a credit card with a chip. This creates a problem for legal representatives who speak a different language, do not know how to use computers or do not have a DIMEX identification number.

As a way to solve the issue, it is authorized to grant a special power to another person who has a digital signature and understands Spanish to make the report. This power must be registered by a Notary Public, for which the Central Bank authorized access for notaries using their own digital signature. Failure to comply with the report has the consequence that the National Registry does not issue certifications on legal representation -Personerias- nor register documents in favor of delinquent companies, plus fines apply.


Tax Returns for Inactive Corporations. All Inactive corporations will need to file tax returns, and also report the amount of capital stock as well as any assets held by the corporation. This might sound illogic, because if the corporation is inactive the rent tax is zero. However, there is something behind this, it is a way to control capital gains. For example, if an inactive corporation sells three lots that can be considered a business activity subject to capital gains and rent tax.

Most inactive corporations have a basic amount of capital stock, but also have acquired assets like real estate property with a higher value, paid with capital contributions from the stockholders. In this case it is advised to proceed adjusting the capital stock according to the value of new assets acquired. This will help preventing tax authorities assuming that the differences in value might represent an “unjustified increase of patrimony”. Still, the Tax Man might appear checking the origin of funds used to buy any existing assets.

Initially, the deadline for filing tax returns expired March 15 2021. However, a few weeks ago the tax authorities agreed to prepare a new form, indicating that from that moment there will be an additional term of two and a half months to comply. As of this date, the form has not been issued but it is foreseeable that it will soon be ready. Important to be expecting for the new due date, which will be sometime near the middle of this year. It is time to start looking for an accountant who can assist with this new obligation.

Municipal Property Taxes. It should be remembered that the first quarter of property taxes is due. It must be paid in the local Municipality, covering from January to March. Second quarter is due starting April 1st. Since property taxes in Costa Rica are not very high, it is advisable to pay the full year in advance if possible, instead of doing it every three months, as a way to skip any applicable fines for late payment. Some Municipalities even offer discounts for prepayment.

In this way, the most relevant things that must be fulfilled in relation to all existing corporations is informed. Surprises and problems can always be avoided. One more point that is important to review is that the identification number that appears recorded for the legal representatives remains valid. This because foreigners usually when obtaining a new passport also obtain a new number that would then be different from the one registered in the corporation. It is always better when it matches properly

About the Author: Allan Garro was incorporated as a lawyer and public notary in 1996. He specializes in Litigation, Corporate, and Real Estate Law. He has also acted as an external legal consultant to Congress. He has been the author of more than 100 published English Language articles and can be reached at [email protected]

Working from the tropics: Costa Rica promises digital nomads a life of ‘Pura Vida’

George Soriano March 26, 2021

A year into the brave new world of pandemic-related issues, it appears that some important changes to the way we live are here to stay.

One positive trend that’s expected to continue is working from home, as companies learned that this can actually increase productivity while lowering costs associated with maintaining large brick-and-mortar office spaces.

In fact, says Emergent Research, a California-based consultancy focused on small businesses, “multiple studies indicate that most firms are planning on greatly expanding their use of remote work even after the pandemic is over.”

This is also good news for the estimated 10.9 million U.S. citizens who didn’t have to fight rush hour traffic last year on their daily commute or spend as much on transportation and work clothes.

In trying to gauge how these workers felt about working from home, the international firm MBO Partners surveyed 3,687 independent writers, designers, editors and content creators, along with professionals working in IT, marketing and communication, among other professions. They found 83% of them reported feeling “happier working on my own,” with 71% saying that “working on my own is better for my health.”

We can only assume that none of those surveyed had little ones climbing over their laptops or spilling juice boxes all over mom’s and dad’s paperwork.

But the idea that all of these remote workers have to carve out a space at home to get their work done is changing.

According to MBO, the ever-evolving advances in digital tools and communication technology has made it possible for 4.8 million workers to travel while they work. Some are trading in their office chair for a lounge chair at the beach, and their home offices for co-working spaces in far flung tropical destinations.

“As long as I have good internet connection, I can work from anywhere,” says Marie Elena Hawkins, a writer and holistic health consultant who moved to Costa Rica from Tennessee a few years ago.

This subset of independent workers are often called “Digital Nomads,” since they rely on digital technology to keep up a lifestyle that allows them to see the world while they earn a living. They manage this by working from places with a similar or lower cost of living while garnering wages tied to higher-cost locations.

“It takes time to figure out how to make it all work, but the benefits greatly outweigh the drawbacks,” said Paul Butcher, a digital nomad from the UK who is currently living in Costa Rica. “Before choosing my next location, I would consider the cost of getting there and getting around, renting a place, and how much good internet and mobile service is going to cost me.”

MBO says nomads are twice as likely to be male than female and are most often millennials, although Gen Xers represent about quarter of the group. About half of nomads have a college degree, and the vast majority are “satisfied” with their lives. Some 83% are optimistic about the future, and 81% plan to continue their independent lifestyle.

“I’m the envy of my friends,” said U.S. expat David Fulton who runs a tourism outfit on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. “They think I’m on a permanent vacation, but that’s not it at all. I go to work every day, just like they do. But when my day is over, I’m already at the beach or enjoying a spectacular view. It’s a totally different experience.”

The MBO report on the rising trend of Digital Nomadism says that approximately 17 million independent workers aspire to a digital nomad lifestyle, although the vast majority never take the plunge. However, concerns over future possible lockdowns or potential hospital stays makes traveling to wide open spaces on travelers insurance all the more attractive, especially for the uninsured.

Over the past decade, MBO notes a significant increase in demand for outsourced professional services as “organizations substantially increase their use of non-employee labor.”

A few countries in Europe are trying to cash in on this trend and attract international nomads to help boost economies that were hard hit during the pandemic. Most notably, the Portugese archipelago of Madeira is building a “digital nomad village” with the cooperation of co-working spaces, real estate, hotels and rental car companies, all working together to attract this demographic. Portugal is also creating a special visa category that will make booking extended visits to this warm ocean side spot a no-brainer.

And according to The Independent, “the Caribbean islands of Barbados and Antigua have unveiled similar schemes” to help boost their economies.

What about Costa Rica?

Last year, as lockdowns began throughout the world,  the Costa Rican government made it posisble for visitors to extend the validity of tourist visas. Currently, anyone who entered the country in 2020 can stay without penalty until June 2021.

As that deadline approaches, a group of Costa Rican legislators are working to pass a new one-year temporary residency status, geared toward digital nomads.

While details may change before the project becomes law, the requirements would include proof of an average monthly income of $3,000 made from sources outside of Costa Rica, and health insurance, to cover any medical needs while in country. Acording to the bill, this new visa will be processed online and would allow nomads to bring a spouse and children, as well as apply for a six-month extension during their stay. Nomads under this immigration status will also enjoy tax-free status, meaning that they can also bring in equipment necessary for their work duty free.

The details of this new sub-category of temporary residency status are being discussed by Costa Rican legislators as this is written. But information will be posted at The Tico Times (or  the website for the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica as it becomes available.

For now, nomads who are just arriving can stay a maximum of 90 days on a tourist visa, and apply for temporary residency status in country. Many tourists opt to gain perpetual 90-day extensions by leaving the country and returning under a new tourist stamp.

For those who make a “visa run,” as they are commonly called, immigration officials will be on alert upon your return. They are mainly concerned about verifying that tourists are not working for Costa Rican businesses — and thus taking jobs away from local workers. They are also checking that tourists have enough money to support themselves while in Costa Rica and that a departure flight back to their counry of origin has already been purchased.

Is Costa Rica a good option for digital nomads?

We looked at the Nomad Index, a list of countries ranked according to the best conditions for digital nomads. The data was compiled by CircleLoop — a UK-based company offering cloud services to small businesses. The index compared the average speed for fixed broadband and mobile internet, the average price of internet service, and visa access. It also considered acceptance of migrants, average rental cost for a one-bedroom apartment and the score of each country on the World Happiness Index, among other criteria.

Costa Rica ranked 41st worldwide and fourth in Latin America behind Chile, Argentina and Brazil. What do those countries have that Costa Rica doesn’t? Chile (28) has much better Internet speed and the cost of that service is less expensive. Argentina (40) has a much lower cost of living. And Brazil (35) ranks just a bit better in most categories.

Where does Costa Rica shine? Its “happiness index” ranks the small Central American country at the top of the competition.

As far as tropical countries go, Costa Rica ranks third, behind Singapore (15) which is much more expensive than Costa Rica and Thailand (18), which has a similar cost of living, but is less open to migrants.

Becoming a digital nomad in Costa Rica

To help guide digital nomads considering long- or short-term relocation to Costa Rica, a new consultancy called Costa Rica Dream Team is offering online courses designed to take all the mystery out of living and working there.

In addition to covering details about real estate, cost of living and doing business in Costa Rica, courses explore residency, health care, entertainment, recreation, and even cultural dos and don’ts. Their digital format, supplemented with online question-and-answer webinars and insider blogs were developed for people on the go.

“We help our clients make a seamless transition to Costa Rica and enjoy a cross-cultural experience that is good for everyboody involved” said Julio Fernandez, who helped found Costa Rica Dream Team in 2020. “Too many people arrive with unrealistic expectations, get frustrated and leave. Our motto is ‘Know before you go.’ ”

At the end of the day, most nomads agree that making a nomadic lifestyle work depends on making informed decisions, being open to new experiences, and having a strong internet connection.

For those willing to make the leap, it can be an amazing adventure.

Costa Rica’s land borders have reopened to tourists

Costa Rica’s land borders have reopened to visitors as of Monday, April 5.

Tourists who do not require an entry visa will be allowed to enter the country via land border posts. This includes citizens of the United States, Canada, and others, as defined by Groups 1 and 2 of the general guidelines for entry for non-residents.

Those who require a visa (Groups 3 and 4), will only be allowed to enter Costa Rica when Costa Rican consulates begin offering such services again, on a date yet to be defined.

As part of this gradual opening of land borders, the sanitary order that required Costa Ricans, residents and people with special migratory categories to comply with a quarantine has been eliminated.

Those who enter by land must meet the same health requirements that are required of visitors who enter by sea or air:

  1. Complete the digital epidemiological form known as the Health Pass: This must be completed within the 48 hours before the trip.
  2. Purchase medical insurance, which must either be through INS or Sagicor, or comply with these details: US$50,000 for medical expenses, including COVID-19; US$2000 for accommodation expenses in case of quarantine for COVID-19.

Through the Health Pass, the tourist will obtain a QR code which will be verified by immigration authorities at the border.

Immigration agent will also verify continuity of travel (e.g. a plan to exit Costa Rica), economic solvency (US $100.00 per month) and passport validity.

Controlled mixed migratory flow

This first phase of land border reopening does not authorize the passage of migrants who seek to cross the region in order to reach the United States.

This so-called “controlled mixed migratory flow” enters from Panama and continues into Nicaragua and beyond. For the time being, these people should remain in shelters enabled in Panama.

Nicaraguans with jobs in Panama are authorized to pass through Costa Rica. This is enabled through “Sanitary Bubbles” operations, which have been coordinated since last year by migration authorities.

Costa Rica first closed all its borders in March 2020 as a health measure to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The maritime and air borders opened in August 2020.

How to fill out Costa Rica’s inactive company tax return

Published Monday, April 5, 2021
By Garland M. Baker
Exclusive to A.M. Costa Rica

The Semana Santa holiday gave certified public accountant Kevin Chavarria, Licentiate Xochilt Quezada and this author a chance to gather and hash out the details of what is required to put on Costa Rica’s new tax return for inactive companies.

Last year the form was to be called the D-135. However, that was changed to the D-101, and then changed again to the D-101 Simplificado, which stand for simplified in English, but its official name is the D-101-2. The tax return was due March 15, but has now been extended to an undermined date because it is not ready. When it is, people will have two and a half months to comply and file the return.

The tax department says the form is to be just that, simple, with very little to fill out, just assets and liabilities. The big question is what value to put for assets like property when that asset usually has several values in Costa Rica: 1) the actual value paid, 2) the value put on the closing deed by a notary (usually not the same number because notaries put a lesser value to save clients money on transfers), 3), the Registro Nacional value, 4) the municipal value and 5) the actual market value.

The tax department states it wants the current market valuation for any assets calculated using international financial reporting standards. Most people do not have a clue how to come up with that number, and most do not want to pay an accounting professional to calculate it.

Here is a guideline for those wanting to fill out the form themselves:

Bank accounts, and other financial instruments: The balance listed as of Dec. 31, 2020, is the amount to use on the inactive tax return. If the amount is in United States dollars, it should be converted to Costa Rican colons by multiplying the dollar amount by 617.30 (the colon sell rate on Dec. 31). For example, $100 would calculate out to 61,730.00 colons.

Vehicles: Using the value listed at the Registro Nacional is a pretty safe bet for all vehicles in inactive companies. The amount is easy to obtain by logging into the Registro Nacional and selecting Consultas Gratuitas (means free lookups in English) then navigating to Bienes Muebles (moveable property), and selecting the type of vehicle from the list. A window will open asking for the vehicle number. Upon putting in the correct information, a report will be generated and the number to use on the tax return is the valor hacienda (tax value).

Properties: Using the value listed at Registro Nacional, if it is similar to the municipality value, is a good starting point to determine the amount to put on the inactive tax return. With that said, sometimes the tax value listed is way out of wack with the real value of a property because when it was purchased a notary put a low figure on the original deed of acquisition. In this case, an accounting professional should be consulted. Getting to reports for property at the Registro Nacional is as easy as it is for vehicles, but option Bienes Inmuebles (fixed assets) is selected instead of Bienes Muebles.

Other types of assets: If an asset is not listed at the Registro Nacional or in a bank or money market fund, it probably should not go on the inactive tax return unless its value is substantial, like works of art. In this case, a tax professional should be consulted to determine the correct course of action.

Costa Rica’s tax return filing system is simple to use. It is called the Administración Tributaria Virtual, or ATV for short. The problem for expats is it is all in Spanish. However, most browsers will translate all the information into almost any language instantly. Filers using the system in English, have encountered problems when setting up an account because their browser does not translate identification numbers correctly. Initially, it is best to use Spanish for the system to work properly.

After much research, and discussion, Chavarria and Lopez both agreed the tax authority is just starting out with their venture to obtain data from inactive companies and really does not have the guidelines clear. It appears the data accumulated from the D-102-2s will be cross-referenced with the information at the Banco Central received from the Registro de Transparencia y Beneficiarios Finales reports. In English, that report is referred to as the transparency and final beneficiaries register or RTBF for short.

The RTBF is due now, this month of April. Filing it, if last year’s was filed, is straightforward. There are two options: 1) copy last year’s return and make simple changes or 2) erase last year’s return and start over again.

Here are the steps: 1) sign into the Banco Central, 2) select the type of declaration to be filed, 3) select to copy or start over, 4) make changes as necessary and finally 5) click to save. It is important to note that the document is saved as a draft. To finish the process it must be submitted as complete on the main document window.

Usually, filling out tax forms is a struggle, but it appears the D-101-2 will be a breeze if one has the right data to start off. The tax people promised a simple RTBF filing, and they came through.

Remember, the D-101-2 cannot be filed yet, but will be enabled soon. The RTBF is due now for the entire month of April.

Costa Rica Immigration Requirements – The Police Record Affidavit

One of the main documents that people have to provide to the Costa Rica immigration authorities when requesting residency is the so called “police record”, which is a statement or certification or affidavit provided by the authorities in which the person´s police record (felonies and misdemeanors) is listed.

Many years ago, it used to be that a simple statement from the local police authority would suffice but that is no longer the case.

As of Oct 14, 2019 there was a general directive issued (in Spanish “Circular”) in which the Director General of Immigration establishes that according to the Law, all persons requesting residency must furnish the authorities with a police record that must be translated (if not issued in Spanish) and apostilled (legalized in international terms).

The Director goes on to interpret that it is therefore their responsibility to make sure that the requesting party has not committed a crime in the totality of the country where he/she is from.

She states that countries such as the U.S.A. and Canada have criminal legal systems that have a local and a federal jurisdiction (Mexico and Brazil as well), but that certifications issued by local or the federal government that do not include the name, the personal identification number and fingerprints of the interested party do not guarantee a clear picture of that person´s criminal past.

It is for these reasons that immigration started to request from those countries that have a federal system of law that the criminal record include these three items:

    • Name
    • Identification
    • Fingerprints from the federal authorities and not just from the local or state authority

The ruling specifically states that in the case of U.S.A. citizens (or residents), they must obtain and provide a document that includes the information from the “National Crime Information Center Interstate Identification Index or Triple III”.

The document must also be apostilled (a concept of international law that we will discuss in a future article) and translated by an official translator or by a Costa Rican Notary Public that knows both languages.

The person´s address that must be stated is that where the requesting party has resided for the last 3 years. This is important as there will be a number of different documents that have to be provided and the latest address in all of them must match.

In the case that the certification of the police record does indeed state prior arrests or pending criminal cases, then a certification of the status of these cases must also be provided, with translation and legalization, of course.

If and when a person requesting residency files his/her paperwork and is missing this document or has difficulties with this document, the immigration authorities will issue a notification stating the problem and allowing a certain amount of time to address it.

In a subsequent directive dated June 4th 2020, the Director General explained that it was the American Embassy which informed them that the “NCIC” is a database which is used by the FBI for obtaining criminal records through the “Criminal Justice Information Services” Division which guarantees complete information if a person has been convicted of a crime.

This issue has caused quite few questions from interested parties and for that reason, the Director General clarifies the following: The documents through which U.S.A. citizens (and residents for more than 3 years), includes Puerto Rico, can satisfy their criminal record requirement are:

1) A document issued by the “U.S. Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division”;

2) A document that includes the following statement: “A search of the fingerprints provided by this individual has revealed no prior arrest data at the FBI.

This does not preclude further criminal history at the state or local level.” The document must contain both items.

Finally, it is important to state that according to the rules that regulate visas in Costa Rica, all certifications issued abroad will have an expiration date of 6 months from the date issued, after which the interested party will have to provide a new document.

*** 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 postgraduate 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.

Email: [email protected];


The Mandatory Shareholder/Beneficial Owner Filing for Costa Rican corporations has been extended

The Mandatory Shareholder/Beneficial Owner Filing for Costa Rican corporations for 2020 has been extended until April 2021. All Costa Rica corporations are obligated to file a sworn disclosure form every year to identify the shareholders or beneficial owners of the corporation. The next filing was due in September of 2020. That has now been moved to April of 2021. The regulation was published in the Official Gazette no. 201 DGT-ICD-R-19-2020, titled “Reform to the Joint Resolution of General Scope for the Registry of Transparency and Final Beneficiaries.”

In April of 2021, the system will have preloaded the prior application that was filed by the corporation. A such, in April the corporation can make any updates if any changes have occurred in the ownership of the corporation. If there are no changes, then the corporation can simply confirm that on the declaration and no changes are made.
A such if you file the Shareholder/Beneficial Owner form required in 2019, you are fine until April of 2021.
Any corporation that was registered and filed in the National Registry from January 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021, will file the declaration April of 2021.

Requirements for Entering Costa Rica During COVID Pandemic as of February 25, 2021

Below is a complete explanation of the needed requirements for entering Costa Rica during the COVID Pandemic.  We have also included some great tips that we have learned from listening to visitors who have previously arrived to Costa Rica in the past few months.  Hope this helps in making your experience seamless and without any unexpected delays.


NOTE:  Information current as of February 25, 2021.  Requirements for entering Costa Rica can change at any time. The Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) lists all the current entry requirements for tourists on its website. Click here for the official page.

Be sure to save copies of all required documents on your cell phone, plus bring hard copies with you as well, if at all possible.



Be sure your insurance covers the total number of days that you plan to be in Costa Rica, because immigration in CR will stamp your passport for the number of days for which you have insurance (should match your proof of onward travel documents).

COVID insurance can be purchased through the two Costa Rican companies, National Insurance Institute (INS) or Sagicor of Costa Rica, covering the duration of your stay in Costa Rica. Policies from these two companies are pre-approved and are guaranteed to be accepted by Costa Rican authorities

However, many visitors choose international policies, because they are often cheaper. Tourists who opt to purchase an international policy must bring a letter demonstrating:

  • Guaranteed coverage of medical expenses in the event of becoming ill with COVID-19 while in Costa Rica, for at least $50,000 USD.
  • Minimum coverage of $2,000 USD for lodging expenses issued as a result of the pandemic (see below for foreigners who own property in Costa Rica)
  • Validity of the policy throughout the planned stay in Costa Rica.
  • For Visitors to Costa Rica from the US: We’ve heard Trawick International offers affordable policies that meet Costa Rica’s requirements. When filling out the questionnaire, it is recommended to put “0” in the Trip Cost section so you are only purchasing insurance to cover for COVID related instances and not paying for extra add-ons like Trip Cancellation, etc. if you don’t want them.
  • For Visitors to Costa Rica from Canada:  Just recently, Trawick International began providing a policy for countries other than the USA.  One from Canada that has been used successfully to enter Costa Rica is TUGO Insurance.


Available at This should be completed within the 48 hours before boarding for Costa Rica. It generates a QR code that you must show upon arrival. Some airlines ask for it at check-in.

  • Some visitors have mentioned that you must check off INTERNATIONAL when asked to choose between International and National insurance, regardless of whether you purchased Costa Rican insurance or not. Otherwise it will not let you continue.
  • Please Note: This website says they will send you a QR code by email, but some people have said they were not receiving it prior to their departure.  It is recommended that when you are on this website, take a screenshot of the QR code, making sure that your name shows up on the screenshot as well. Save this on your smartphone to show at check-in and immigration.


In addition to the coronavirus-related measures, tourists must also meet Costa Rica’s general visa requirements:

  • Visitors must have a valid passport.
  • Proof of intent to exit the country (an outbound ticket) within 90 days. Be sure your insurance coverage matches the number of days you will be in Costa Rica before your outbound flight.  Immigration will stamp your passport for the number of days that you have health coverage for COVID only – not the usual maximum of 90 days. (For example:  if you bought enough COVID health coverage for 21 days, then your passport will be stamped for 21 days after your arrival in Costa Rica.).
  • Non-residents (i.e. tourists) are allowed to remain in the country for up to 90 days before being required to exit. Tourists MUST exit Costa Rica prior to the number of days stamped on your passport.  You may re-enter Costa Rica immediately again once you have your passport stamped by the country that you entered upon leaving Costa Rica.  At the present time, the land borders are closed to enter Costa Rica, so your only option is to either drive out of Costa Rica and then fly back in, or to leave Costa Rica by air and return by air.
  • It is very difficult to extend your stay in Costa Rica beyond what is stamped in your passport.  For this reason, it has been suggested that when purchasing your insurance, purchase enough to cover the amount of days you plan to remain in Costa Rica, including having to make a trip out of the country every 90 days, so you do not have to purchase more insurance every time you are required to leave the country.


You will still need health insurance. However, proof of property ownership can waive the lodging expenses requirement ($2,000 USD) for your insurance policy. Email [email protected], and they can confirm if you qualify.  You will need to show proof that you own a property in Costa Rica by providing a copy of the persona juridica of your corporation and a document that proves that the corporation owns the property (such as a utility bill). Your property manager or lawyer should be able to help you obtain copies of these documents.

  •  Please Note:  This will have to be completed before you fill in the HEALTH PASS FORM.

RT PCR Covid 19 – Guidelines – Coco Medical Center


General information

  • Dedicated phone number to book appointments: (506) 8705-3260 or +1 (954) 278 1650
  • Email to book appointments: [email protected]
  • WhatsApp or Telegram consults about the process: (506) 8705-3260
  • Appointment is required for the test.
  • The test is required for each traveler including kids.
  • Prior your test a form needs to be completed.
  • Travelers need to take the test 72 hours before the flight.
  • Results will be received by the patient in less than 48 hours after the test by email.
  • Our administrative staff is very efficient and has included agreements with 3 laboratories to guarantee that all your travelers will get the results on time for their flights.
  • Check our facility: Virtual Tour!
  • Web site:
  • Our Medical Group:

Cost (Patients can pay with credit card or cash)

  • At the facility:
  • 1to10patients:$160
  • Groups of 10 to 20: $140
  • Groups higher than 20: Contact us for pricing at (506) 8308-9986 or (506) 8334-2754
  • House/Hotel visit:
  • 1 to 2patients:$220
  • Groups of 2 to 20:$200
  • Groups higher than 20: Contact us for pricing at (506) 8308-9986 or (506) 8334-2754
  • Emergency fast RT-PCR Covid test (Results in 24 hours)
  •  Approximated cost $460

Required information for each patient taking the test:

  • Name:
  • Last Name:
  • Date of birth:
  • Birth Gender:
  • Passport number:
  • Nationality:
  • E-mail:
  • Arrival date (to Costa Rica):
  • Departure date and time:
  • Where are you traveling back to?:
  • Pregnant? Yes/No
  • Our team: As professionals in the healthcare industry, we have a great responsibility and that’s way we have always pursued the highest quality standards and cutting-edge medical equipment. This is one of our main goals, to provide the best healthcare to our patients.