IVO HENFLING | AUGUST 22, 2014
In 2011, a new article of the immigration law was approved and came in effect on August 1st, 2014. This article fines tourists $100 per month after their tourist visa expires. Those who cannot pay or are unwilling to do so, will not be allowed back into the country for three times the length they overstayed on their tourist visa.
Thousands of foreigners from the US, Canada, Europe and elsewhere live in Costa Rica as a perpetual tourist. I imagine the government doesn’t know either how many people live like that in Costa Rica. Many are snowbirds and rent short term and others just live here long term and leave the country every three months to renew their tourist visa.
Quite a few perpetual tourists even own property in Costa Rica or have a business here but have never bothered getting their legal residency or did not apply for some reason. Many do not know they can apply for legal residency if their property is appraised in the municipality for at least $200,000 and do not have to worry about leaving the country every 90 days.
Not having legal residency Costa Rica, also means not being able to get medical insurance like CCSS or INS and to open a bank account in Costa Rica.
You might think that the government is now going after the gringos, trying to catch the illegals amongst you. That is not true. The Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería (Immigration) is trying to control the flow of Nicaraguans who live illegally in Costa Rica, work as maids, gardeners, construction workers etc. without paying social security and without having legal residency. The law fines those who hire illegal workers with fines from 2 to 12 times the salary of that worker. They are the reason those fines for overstaying your tourist visa were created.
Should you worry about being illegal in Costa Rica?
To my opinion, when creating these articles in the immigration law, the government never even paid attention to the thousands of gringos living in Costa Rica illegally, because the statistics call them tourists. Nobody even realizes how millions of dollars are spent monthly in the local economy by perpetual tourists spending their pension, income or savings, purchasing groceries, getting medical services, paying power and water and hiring housekeepers and gardeners.
If you are a perpetual tourist, just make sure you leave the country every 90 days, so you won’t have to pay the $100 fine or get your legal residency. With the new immigration law your income as a “Pensionado” has to be $1,000 and as a “Rentista” $2,500 and remember, if you Costa Rica property is valued in the municipality at $200K, you can apply for legal residency too.
If you’re worried the Costarican government is now going after the gringos, please don’t, but do try to get your legal residency in place and
For legal advice to get you legal residency, check out our website and to purchase Costa Rica property contact your preferred GoDutch Realty agent.
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