A digital nomad is someone who can work online while they travel. Also called remote workers, they move around from month to month or stay put in one place for longer, all while working digitally as content creators, videographers, virtual assistants, social media managers, customer service representatives, salespeople, etc. All they need is a laptop and a stable internet connection to get their job done.
Digital nomads work online, usually for a company based in their home country; therefore, they do not need a work visa to work and travel to another country. Several countries are making it easier for remote workers by giving them their own residency category so they can extend their stay. Costa Rica is one of those countries.
How To Be a Digital Nomad in Costa Rica
As a foreigner, when you enter Costa Rica, you will be given a tourist visa stamp on your passport. The length of time you will receive for your tourist visa will depend on your departure date. You must have a departure ticket booked to enter Costa Rica, even if you plan to stay longer or travel to the neighboring countries of Nicaragua or Panama. If you have a departure ticket booked for 90 days after your arrival you should receive the full 90-day visa. If you have a ticket booked for 30 days after your arrival, your visitor visa will most likely reflect that. Therefore, if you want the maximum time allowed, which is 90 days, you must book a departure ticket for 90 days after your arrival.
Upon arrival, you may want to move around a bit to find the spot that best suits you or just to see the country. Just be aware that traveling to remote areas will mean that the internet speed will probably not be as good or as reliable as it is in bigger centers. For those looking to live on the Pacific Coast, Tamarindo and Playas del Coco are good options for remote workers as these towns are well-established and populated, meaning more modern infrastructure is already in place. Many people have chosen these areas to base themselves while working remotely in Costa Rica.
If you wish to extend your stay in one of these locations, you will need to find a long-term rental. It is best to find Facebook pages with terms like “long term rentals in Costa Rica” or “long term rentals in Tamarindo” in order to find a place suitable for you to live while you work.
Long-term rentals in Tamarindo or Playas del Coco are easier to find in the low season (rainy season) from May to December. This is also the best time to find the lowest prices for a long-term rental in Costa Rica.
How to Obtain Legal Residency as a Digital Nomad in Costa Rica
Applying for the digital nomad residency in Costa Rica can be done entirely online. It allows remote workers to stay in Costa Rica for a full year rather than the average limit of 90 days. It is ideal for remote workers who want to establish themselves in the country for a longer period without having to worry about crossing borders to renew their visitor visas or overstaying their visitor visas.
Along with the ability to stay in Costa Rica for a full year, digital nomads under this digital nomad visa can open a local bank account. They are also exempt from paying local taxes in Costa Rica and can legally drive with their driver’s license from their home country.
Digital nomad visa holders will also be exempt from import taxes when they make their temporary move to Costa Rica. They are allowed to import two vehicles, computers, and other items tax-free. They can even bring their spouse and dependents with them to Costa Rica with this visa.
Those who successfully receive the digital nomad visa can apply for another year of residency when the first year is over.
There are several requirements you must meet in order to be eligible for the Costa Rican digital nomad visa:
Valid Passport: Your passport must be valid at the time of application
Work Remotely: You must be employed by or own a company that is registered outside of Costa Rica or freelance with clients outside of the country
Proof of Income: You must prove a stable income of $3,000 per month from a remote job or $4,000 per month if you plan to bring your family
Proof of Health Insurance: Since you will not be paying local taxes, you are not eligible for public healthcare, therefore, your health insurance policy must cover you for the duration of the visa term. The minimum coverage required is $50,000 USD.
Immigration gives you two options. You can file for the digital nomad residency using the digital platform called Tramite Ya or you can do it in person at the Department of Immigration by requesting an appointment to file. To file online, you will have to create your account on the digital platform of Tramite Ya. Just be sure to have all supporting documents handy as you will have to upload them.
You can find all of the requirements and procedures for filing HERE
Becoming a digital nomad in Costa Rica will allow you to experience the culture for longer than the average three-month visitor stay. With a digital nomad visa, you can move freely around the country or put down some roots to really ingrain yourself in the Costa Rican lifestyle. This can be easily achieved by learning how to search for long term rentals in Costa Rica using social media, contacting a local professional, or even just by asking around.
Digital nomads in Costa Rica use their time in the Central American country to explore the many microclimates and natural features like beaches, volcanos and jungles. They get an opportunity to learn about Costa Rican culture and language. Best of all, they get a chance to learn what “Pura Vida” means for themselves in a way that no amount of research and reading could ever accomplish.
By Jennifer LaCharite, Costa Consultants International
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