How to Get a Work Visa In Costa Rica

It was a little difficult to navigate how to get a work visa. A few people have told me that I needed a lawyer to do it, which costs about $1,200. That’s way too much. I decided to do it on my own and pay less. I paid about $600 that is including airfare back to the states for some papers that expired.

I have had a few people ask me how I did it. To make it easy, I want to share with you the process. I went to the office in Liberia. I am not sure if it is the same in San Jose. I would assume so.

There is a bunch of paperwork you need before going to the office. Three or four (if you are married) are from your home country that does expire after 3 months. The paperwork must be filed before the 3 months or you will need to get the paperwork again.

  1. Birth Certificate: This needs to be a recently ordered birth certificate. I ordered mine online from the State of Maryland, where I was born. They sent it to my house. This needs to be APOSTILLED by the state department of the state you were born. **
  2. Background Check: This can be from either your home state or the FBI. The FBI takes a minimum of three months to be processed and needs to be APOSTILLED by the State Department in Washington DC (It can be mailed. Just adds more time). If you get one from your state you can take it or send it to the State Department for APOSTILLE, you take your Birth Certificate to. **
  3. Comprobante de inscripcon ante consulado: This is printed from the internet (doesn’t expire). You need to go to the STEP website (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) and register your self. You want to print the page that looks like the photo below. It took me many calls to different people trying to figure out what they wanted. **
  4. IF YOU ARE MARRIED, you need an APOSTILLED and LEGAL marriage certificate.

** These will all need to be officially translated into Spanish. I use a lady in Liberia. If you are in San Jose you will need to find someone else. (Ana Sayagues Delcore-

The next set of papers are done in Costa Rica.

From your place of work:

  1. Declaracion jurada de parte del profesor indicando que se estara haciendo cargo de la manutencion de la persona dependiente en donde se especifique los rubros cubiertos. (your school or place of business will know what this is. Mine was in Spanish so I really can’t say what it is.)
  2. Your signed contract with your school or company

From you:

  1. 4 passport sized photos
  2. Photocopy of every page in your passport
  3. A letter of why and where you will be for your work. (carta de solicitud de permanencia legal indicando las calidades del interesado, su intencion, direccion fisica de domicilio actual, la cual debera venir autenticada por un abogado) I never had it authenticated by a lawyer. It needs to be in Spanish. I had the office lady at my school rewrite it in Spanish for me. (see below for example)
  4. Fingerprints from the Ministerio de Segurida Publica: When I had this done you could go at any time Monday thru Friday. Now, they only accept a certain amount a day, starting at 8 am (I believe). I would get there early because once the quota is filled they will send you away.
  5. You need to pay Ministerio de Hacienda (#242480-0, BCR) $200, with your name. You need the receipt.
  6. You need to pay them again but 500 colones (same number as above) with your name. You need the receipt.

Example of letter:

Name: _____ Birth date: _____ Nationality:________ Marital Status:________ Occupation: _____ Costa Rican Address: _____

To whom this may concern:

My name is ____________. I would like to obtain a work visa to work legally in Costa Rica. I would like to be an English teacher so that I could help children learn English here in Costa Rica. I taught in the United States and would like to have the opportunity to experience a different culture. I want to immerse myself into the Costa Rica culture to learn Spanish as well as other important ways of life here. I plan to stay in Costa Rica for a year or longer if possible.

Thank you for your time and consideration in accepting me for a work visa.



You will take all these papers to the office. They will give you a paper back with your photo and information on it. At this point, you do not need to leave the country every 90 days, unless you need to drive a car while here. Your driver’s licence from the states expires after the 90 days. Once you get the official work visa, you can apply for a CR driver’s license.

If everything is in order, you will have an email notice for the next steps in about 90 days.

You will need two things:

  1. Pay $98 to BCR #242480-0 with the reciept
  2. Proof that you have been paying in to the CAJA. To get this, you go to the CAJA in Santa Cruz and ask for a paper with your payments on it. Your school should have set this up for you and has the number to give the CAJA.

You take those to the office in Liberia, they will take your photo and give you information on getting the work visa card. I took the paper they gave me to the local post office in Tamarindo (the closest to me), paid like 4,000 colones, waited 2 weeks, and picked up my card from the post office. That was it. If you live near Liberia, you can pick up your card there.

Next, you can get your CR driver’s license. See here for information

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *