Costa Rica has everything one desires–beaches, jungles, forests, volcanoes, rainforests, vibrant cities and culture. The country is perfect for someone looking for both adventure or the laid-back quiet life. And now, working remotely from Costa Rica is as easy as ever. It’s very accommodating to digital nomads, and you will have all the necessary infrastructure to keep up with your remote job.
In September 2021, Costa Rica introduced a digital nomad visa for remote workers, telecommuters and other location-independent professionals. You can live and work from Costa Rica for up to 12 months, with a possible extension for another year.
Costa Rica regularly ranks as one of the happiest countries in the world. Want to be a part of it? Continue reading this article for how to work remotely from Costa Rica so that you can live that happy life too!
Is Costa Rica a good choice for remote workers and digital nomads?
Costa Rica is already a favorite for tourists, retirees and location-independent folks, especially North Americans. The country has built an excellent infrastructure and environment over time for digital nomads, so you don’t have to worry too much about anything.
Ultimately, Costa Rica is one of the best places to work remotely in the world. Over 50,000 foreigners currently live in the country as digital nomads, remote workers or expats.
They enjoy the laid-back and affordable lifestyle, wonderful nature and local culture while working remotely for companies in North America, Europe and other locations.
The main benefits of working remotely from Costa Rica are:
- Affordable cost of living and housing: a two-bedroom apartment runs for $1,000/mo + utilities. A couple can live comfortably on around $2,000 per month.
- Amazing weather/climate: warm weather all year round.
- International, expat-friendly population: a large number of expats and remote workers.
- Fast internet: you can get your hands on fiber-optic networks.
- Diverse nature: beaches, jungle, mountains and wildlife.
- Stable politics: Costa Rica is known for its long-standing, stable democracy, and its progressive environmental policies.
- Convenient time zone: Costa Rica’s time is GMT-6 (CST) from April to November and GMT-5 (MST) from November to May.
- Accessibility: you can easily reach North and South American cities.
Moreover, Costa Rica has finally implemented a new digital nomad visa that allows you to stay for up to 12 months! We will talk about the visa later in the article.
Good news for all you laptop-dependent people. Costa Rica’s internet speed is quite impressive. While working at home or in the coffee shop, you can be sure that your connection to the world won’t suddenly disappear.
Furthermore, internet speed has been increasing with the rise of tech companies and expats moving to Costa Rica. This is a result of high demand for high-speed and quality internet options.
Costa Rica implemented fiber optic cable networks, bringing speeds between 20-200mbps depending on your location.
What time of year should you work from Costa Rica?
The best time to visit Costa Rica is during the dry season from mid-December to April. This is also the peak for tourists.
The dry season is the most popular and expensive time to visit the country. If you don’t mind getting a little wet, visit when prices are at their lowest between May and November.
Can you work remotely on a tourist visa?
US citizens and nationals of many other countries don’t need a visa to enter Costa Rica as tourists. They can stay for up to 90 days and work remotely.
When entering the country however, travelers must have a valid passport and a return ticket to exit Costa Rica within 90 days. Nationals of some countries will need to apply for a visa in a Costa Rican embassy before traveling. A few of those countries are:
- Pakistan, etc.
One should also be aware that it’s not possible to get a visa on arrival in Costa Rica, hence they should apply for one a few weeks prior to the traveling date. The visa is granted for a period of 30 days and renewable for up to a maximum of 90 days.
Keep in mind that extending your stay beyond the authorized 30 or 90 days as a tourist is time-consuming. Alternatively, you can leave the country for 72 hours via land and then re-enter. In that case, you will be granted another 90 days to spend in Costa Rica.
Extensions within the country are handled by migration offices.
Requirements for extensions often change, so apply several days before the expiry of the current visa. For a longer stay, you can apply for various residence permits available in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica remote work visa
As of now, Costa Rica doesn’t have an official remote work visa. However, remote workers can obtain a digital nomad visa–a permit allowing them to stay for one year in Costa Rica. This can be extended for one additional year.
Costa Rica digital nomad visa
You can apply for a Costa Rica digital nomad visa which is available for remote workers. In effect since September 2021, digital nomads can stay for up to 12 months in Costa Rica.
This new law allows foreigners who provide their services remotely for a legal entity abroad to remain in Costa Rica for one year, with the option to extend their stay for one additional year. Costa Rica is striving to create a new immigration category called Remote Employee or Provider of Remote Services.
People from the following professional categories can apply for a digital nomad visa:
- Digital nomads
- Remote workers
- Self-employed workers
Furthermore, digital nomads can bring their families to live and work in Costa Rica too for at least one year. With this visa, you and your family can carry out work via telecommuting or remote working from Costa Rica for a foreign country.
Requirements for the Costa Rica digital nomad visa
The main requirement is to have a salary or a stable income from abroad. An individual must prove that they have been receiving on of the following:
- a regular and stable salary
- a fixed income
- an average monthly income in the past year of at least $3,000 USD, or the equivalent of that amount in another currency
For a family, the income requirement is $4,000 USD. This includes a spouse or partner, children under 25, and/or an older adult who lives with the family.
An applicant will also need to obtain a medical insurance policy that covers the entire stay in Costa Rica.
Here is a list of the requirements for a digital nomad visa:
- Proof of monthly income of $3,000 for the last twelve months for one person and $4,000 for a family. The amount can be integrated with the income of the spouse or any of the other family members.
- Proof of private insurance for medical services that cover the entire duration of one’s stay in Costa Rica. The insurance must cover all family members as well.
Benefits of the Costa Rica digital nomad visa
The main benefit is a long stay (residence) in Costa Rica and the opportunity to work remotely officially and legally. Currently, digital nomads and remote workers enter Costa Rica as tourists and can only stay for 90 days, which is not a lot.
Moreover, you can relocate with your entire family without a bureaucratic hustle and large financial burden.
Here are the main benefits of a Costa Rica digital nomad visa:
- You can stay in Costa Rica for 12 months and extend a visa for an additional year.*
- You are exempt from local income taxes.*
- You can open bank accounts in Costa Rica.
- You can drive in Costa Rica with a valid driver’s license from your home country.
- You don’t pay import taxes on items that you need for work, such as personal computers, communication devices, technology and other equipment.
- You can open a savings account in one of the government-owned banks, such as Banco de Costa Rica and Banco Nacional.
- You won’t become a legal fiscal resident of the country.
*The extension of the digital nomad visa can only be possible if you have spent at least 180 days in Costa Rica during the first year.
*The benefit of income tax exemption will not apply to the visa holder’s family.
Is a digital nomad visa suitable for remote workers?
Yes, it is. A digital nomad visa is suitable for several categories of people, including:
- Remote Workers
Remote workers can apply and successfully receive a Costa Rica digital nomad visa. Who are remote workers? Anyone who works for a company outside of its office can classify themself as a remote worker.
Telecommuters can also get a digital nomad visa. Telecommuters are employees who work from home, but also from secure workspaces, such as libraries or other private spaces.
They can usually decide to go to the office or to telecommute. Some employees telecommute full-time.
- Digital Nomads
The term digital nomad describes someone working 100% online and often changing locations. These people are location-independent and use technology to perform their job.
They stay for a short or an extended period of time in one country while doing their job or running a business online.
Working for a US company and living in Costa Rica
You can work for a US company and live in Costa Rica with a digital nomad visa.
In fact, this is the most common way to reside and work from this stunning country. The good thing about working for a US company in Costa Rica is that you can receive a digital nomad visa and avoid paying taxes in the country. You will of course continue to pay your taxes to the US as usual.
Make sure you make an agreement with your employer about working remotely from Costa Rica. Some companies might not authorize remote work from abroad for employees because they don’t want to have any complications with taxes or social security benefits.
However, by you coming to Costa Rica on a digital nomad visa, they shouldn’t be concerned. The payroll structure will remain the same. You can even continue to receive all work-related payments through your US banking account in Costa Rica.
Paying taxes while working remotely in Costa Rica
As previously mentioned, a Costa Rica digital nomad visa will exempt you from all local taxes. US citizens are taxed in the US, but they can benefit from income exclusions when working for foreign companies.
In all other cases, you pay taxes where your job is located or according to your official residency/citizenship. But there is a possibility you can avoid paying any income taxes as a digital nomad visa holder.
It can be done by deregistering yourself from your original country of residence so that you don’t have any material or immaterial property or assets there. By doing so, you won’t pay any income taxes while staying in Costa Rica on a digital nomad visa. Your employer, on the other hand, must continue to do payroll as normal.
When setting up tax schemes, always request professional advice, so you can avoid any problems in the future.
If a foreign national resides in Costa Rica on another residence permit, he or she will become a tax resident after spending 6 consecutive months in the country during the tax year.
Therefore, you will be paying a Costa Rican personal income tax, which ranges from 0% to 25%, depending on the income’s amount.
To avoid any problems with the Costa Rican government, request all payments from outside the county be sent to your foreign bank account. After that, you can transfer the necessary amount to a local Costa Rican bank if needed.
Want to work remotely from Costa Rica?
Are you thinking about relocating to a warmer country with a more affordable cost of living? Now is the time. The Costa Rican digital nomad visa opens new opportunities for remote workers, so take advantage of it!
But what if you don’t have a job? We are here to help. Our company Support Adventure has been hiring talented people worldwide to enable them to work from anywhere thanks to fully remote jobs. You can see our current open positions here. Working with us will make your dream of living and working remotely from abroad come true!