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Costa Rica Real Estate Requirements for International Buyers

Costa Rica Real Estate Requirements for International BuyersAre there any special requirements for international buyers of property in Costa Rica? One out of every 20 emails I receive from international buyers carries a question somewhere along the line of “Could you please send me the requirements for international buyers please”?

Ownership of private property is regulated by the constitution of Costa Rica. Non-residents of Costa Rica have the exact same rights as any Costarican citizen or resident to purchase and own Costa Rica real estate. There are no restrictions except for property located in the Maritime Terrestrial Zone (Zona Maritima Terrestre or ZMT).

First of all, a foreign tourist or a foreign resident can only own up to 49% of the concession rights for a Concession Property within the Maritime Terrestrial Zone.  In addition, the ZMT is limited to the area 200 meters from the median high tide line.

Only Costa Rican citizens can own property within the ZMT. All other property outside of the 200-meter zone can be owned free and clear by all foreigners. Because our agents are experts in the area they work, any agent on the MLS can show you which areas in Costa Rica have titled beach front and which have concession property.

Costa Rica Real Estate Requirements for International Buyers
Only Costa Rican citizens can own property within the ZMT

The Options

International buyers have several ways to acquire property in Costa Rica:

1.    In your own name
2.    In the name of several people
3.    In the name of a corporation (S.A. or Ltda.)
4.    In the name of your retirement fund

If you are an international buyer, we recommend you request your closing attorney/notary public to explain which option will suit you best.

Online research

All titled properties in Costa Rica are registered in the Registro Nacional, the National Registry. They have their headquarters in Zapote, San Jose, and satellite offices in different locations throughout the country. Users can also access the Registry online. The Registro Nacional keeps public property record with all necessary information like owner’s name, legal property information and if the property has any liens or annotations.

Only a Notary Public can record a purchase in the National Register through a purchase-sale agreement through a formal and protocolized deed. The closing attorney has to register any concession property in the Maritime Terrestrial Zone in a different section of the National Register.  Every Notary Public in Costa Rica is an attorney but not every attorney is a Notary Public.

Costa Rica Real Estate Requirements for International Buyers
A foreign buyer can purchase property outside the ZMT

Use a Bilingual Closing Attorney

If you are a foreign buyer and you want to purchase any Costa Rica real estate, we recommend using a Notary Public specialized in real estate. Also, use one who speaks English if you don’t speak Spanish. Make sure this attorney has access to an escrow account or company. Banking laws don’t allow non-residents to open a bank account.

We started the first Costa Rica MLS in 1998. American-European is the largest online Multiple Listing Service in Costa Rica with over 2,000 properties for sale. And we have more than 30 real estate offices listed, from coast to coast. No other real estate organization in Costa Rica has served international buyers for so long. As a result, we’ve been very successful, thanks to you.

Finally, if you have any questions about the purchase of Costa Rica real estate, contact us now. For any legal doubts, contact your Costa Rica real estate attorney.

Feel free to leave your comments on this blog. If you like this article, please feel free to share it on your social media.

Contact the AE MLS Costa Rica


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While we’re at it, I DO want to remind our readers that we appreciate any referrals you can send us. Finally, please remember the American-European real estate Group’s agents when you refer a real estate agent. Because we DO appreciate your business.

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Ivo Henfling

Your West-side of San Jose real estate agent, covering Escazu and Santa Ana, Rohrmoser and Ciudad Colon. If you are looking to buy a home in Costa Rica or invest in a condo anywhere in the Central Valley or looking for any property for sale in Escazu or Santa Ana, you need to contact Costa Rica real estate agent Ivo Henfling. Ivo has been selling Costa Rica real estate on the westside of San Jose, in the locations of Rohrmoser, Sabana, Escazu, Santa Ana and Ciudad Colon for over 20 years and can show you hundreds of happy buyers of real estate in Escazu and those other areas. For Ivo, a deal is not a good one unless both buyer and seller are happy.

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