Last Updated: Monday, 30 May 2016, 14:07 GMT

Costa Rica: Rights and obligations of permanent residents in Costa Rica

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa
Publication Date 14 April 2009
Citation / Document Symbol CRI103128.FE
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Costa Rica: Rights and obligations of permanent residents in Costa Rica, 14 April 2009, CRI103128.FE, available at: [accessed 30 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Article 74 of the Law on Immigration and the Status of Foreign Nationals (Ley de Migración y Extranjería), which came into effect on 12 August 2006, states that permanent residents may earn an income and participate in volunteer activities, for themselves or for someone else (Costa Rica 22 Nov. 2005). However, under Costa Rican legislation, certain income-earning and volunteer activities are prohibited for permanent residents (ibid., Art. 74). Additional information on which income-earning and volunteer activities permanent residents are prohibited from participating in according to Costa Rican legislation could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

An article published on the website, an electronic directory of Costa Rican businesses, indicates that permanent residents have certain labour and social rights under Costan Rican laws (29 Aug. 2005).

According to article 123 of the Law on Immigration and the Status of Foreign Nationals, the Immigration and Status of Foreign Nationals Branch (Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería) will cancel a foreign national's authorization to reside and remain in Costa Rica if the foreign national:


  • after being authorized to enter Costa Rica and granted the right to reside or remain there, no longer meets the conditions for residing or remaining there imposed by the Branch;
  • participates in political activities at the national level;
  • does not pay taxes, unless the foreign national is exempt by law from doing so;
  • has been shown not to have entered or left the country by an authorized border crossing and, therefore, has not undergone an immigration examination;
  • has been sentenced, in Costa Rica or in another country, to imprisonment for murder; genocide; terrorism; trafficking in narcotics or psychotropic substances; human smuggling; fraud; illegal association; illegally carrying and transferring weapons or explosives; a sexual offence involving a minor; trafficking in items of cultural and natural importance or in archaeological items; tax evasion; domestic violence; or violence against a minor, an elderly person or a person with a disability. However, the punishable offence must be recognized as such under Costa Rican criminal law. The right of residence will also be revoked if the foreign national is linked to criminal or organized crime groups;
  • is a permanent resident and has been absent from the country for more than 12 consecutive months. A foreign national who has been granted permission to be absent for reasons of health, education, or family responsibilities and whose reasons have been verified is exempt from this provision;


  • was granted entry to the country on the basis of false statements or falsified visas or documents;
  • participates in paid employment without authorization;
  • by reason of his or her background, is suspected of potentially compromising public safety, public order or the national lifestyle. (Costa Rica 22 Nov. 2005, art. 123)

Article 74 of the Law on Immigration and the Status of Foreign Nationals states that, after five consecutive years of residence in Costa Rica, permanent residents may renew their residence permits every two years; after ten years of continuous residence, the permit may be renewed every five years (Costa Rica 22 Nov. 2005).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Costa Rica. 22 November 2005. Ley N o 8487 – Ley de Migración y Extranjería. [Accessed 2 Apr. 2009] 29 August 2005. "Requisitos para trabajar en Costa Rica." [Accessed 7 Apr. 2009]

Additional Source Consulted

Oral source: The Consulate General of Costa Rica in Ottawa did not answer a request for information within time constraints.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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