Nearshore Americas

Costa Rica’s Digital Nomad Visa Law Offers Tourists More Options in Latin America

Many of us have heard about digital nomads who travel while working remotely for a company that allows them to travel, or as freelancers. The concept has been strengthened by changes that many companies around the world experienced during the pandemic within the confinement, and the remote work options that were allowed.

Costa Rica, whose tourism industry is important to the national economy, used the digital nomad explosion as an opportunity. Last September, the country approved the Law to Attract International Workers and Remote Service Providers, creating a new immigration classification in an effort to reactivate foreign tourism and to encourage long-stay visits through digital nomad visas.

Now that Costa Rica has officially approved this law, foreigners with an income greater than USD$3,000 per month are permitted to stay in the country for one year with the benefit of an extension for an additional year as long as they meet criteria. If they are looking to travel with family, their income must be USD$5,000 per month. In addition, digital nomads with a current valid driver’s license issued in their country of origin can legally drive in Costa Rica. The benefits granted by this law undoubtedly encourage foreigners to move to Costa Rica and will help promote the recovery of the country whose economy was damaged by the pandemic.

The introduction of this visa offers benefits to the following:

(1) Foreigners workers. They now have have the freedom to choose to be Digital Nomads within Costa Rica, 

(2) Foreign companies. They see this as an opportunity to promote the option of becoming a digital nomad as part of their company benefits. 

(3) Employers. They have realized that their expenses have been reduced due to massive utility, food and transportation subsidy reductions. Needless is to say, the digital nomad lifestyle also exerts pressure on some employers when they see that the employees are interested in this way of working

(4) Local economic reactivation. This new visa opens many doors to attract digital nomads, and the consumption of local services including accommodation, food, transportation, tutoring, rural tourism, and others. 

Another aspect worth mentioning is that digital nomads are not considered local employees; therefore, they will not be seen as tax residents and applicants will be exempt of taxes on the importation of the necessary equipment for their work including computers and telecommunication equipment that meet the proportionality criteria.

Foreigners with an income greater than USD$3,000 per month are permitted to stay in the country for one year with the benefit of an extension for an additional year as long as they meet criteria

Many digital nomads have jobs in the e-commerce industry, selling products online, virtual assistants, social media managers, teachers of the native language to which they belong, copywriters, content creators or other similar roles. Internet speed therefore becomes one of the most important aspects for any digital nomad and one of the advantages that Costa Rica offers is its internet efficiency and that the interoperability of the network complies with world telecommunications standards. Monthly costs are accessible, and connectivity is supported through optical fiber data transmission systems.

This new remote work model has been progressing into a whole new trend as an innovative technological proposal to employees or freelancers who are willing to adapt. The fact that Costa Rica approved this law allows us to be at the forefront of this change, alongside other countries that also offer visas for digital nomads such as Thailand, Singapore, Brazil, Greece, Spain, Taiwan, Norway and others.

Sign up for our Nearshore Americas newsletter:

Most Costa Ricans have great understanding of the English language, which greatly facilitates communication with non-Spanish speakers, and this turns out to be a great support instrument for digital nomads as well as for the locals that are trying to run a business. For foreign workers who live outside of their country of residence as nomads and are currently looking for lower-cost locations within the world to relocate, the country is a great choice.

Over the past few weeks, Costa Rica has eased travel restrictions as the Covid-19 curve has flattened. This is due to the fact that a great number of citizens are fully vaccinated and some are even receiving their third dose.

Though the regulation of the law is still pending, Costa Rica’s digital nomad visa, allowing visitors to have legal migratory status in a democratic and stable country, will surely be an attractive option. 

Ivannia Molina

Ivannia is a BLP Associate in the San José office. She specializes in Labor & Employment law. She has extensive experience providing labor advice on preventive and corrective issues, in internal investigation processes for sexual and/or labor harassment, and mediation and conciliation processes, for national and international companies