Retirement visas in
Costa Rica and

The idea of retiring overseas is certainly an appealing one. According to Business Insider, in 2020 Costa Rica & Panama were nominated as the most popular countries to retire in.

Part of the appeal to move to these countries stems from the generous pensioner programmes and retirement visas offered by the government. Retirees can also benefit from a 50% reduction in closing costs for home loans and even 50% off entertainment anywhere in the country.

Below we will explore the steps needed to retire in both Costa Rica and Panama and the visa options available to those already retired, or considering retirement.

Retirement visas in Costa Rica

The most common route that retirees take to relocate to Costa Rica is by submitting an application under the Pensionado Scheme.

This scheme grants individuals an initial two-year stay, and offers a pathway to permanent residence providing that the applicant still falls under the conditions of the scheme. After seven years of legal residence, retirees will qualify for citizenship.

Under this category, the principle applicant is also able to obtain additional residency for dependents, children, and their spouse.

Key eligibility requirements for this route are as follows:

  • The foreign national will need to demonstrate that they have a lifelong pension, such as annuities, retirement funds, social security or other guaranteed retirement benefits
  • The applicant must prove they have a permanent monthly income of $1000
  • A Police Clearance Certificate is compulsory
  • There is no minimum age requirement

Applications are processed by the Costa Rican Department of Immigration, and are submitted in your country of origin through your local consulate.

Retirement visas in Panama

Similar to Costa Rica, Panama has also introduced a Pensionado visa, otherwise known as the Panama retirement visa.

This visa route is open to all individuals or retirees with life-long pensions, and grants the holder residency in Panama. Notably, you do not need to be retired to qualify, you will simply need to provide evidence that you have a monthly lifetime pension.

Perhaps the most striking feature of the Pensionado status is that a person cannot arbitrarily lose Pensionado status, whereas other countries will take the status away when they implement new laws. The Panamanian government have made a pledge to retain this status indefinitely, though you cannot apply for citizenship.

In addition, the government offer an appealing programme of special benefits for retirees such as a one-off duty exemption for importing household goods to a value of $10,000 and duty exemption for importing a new car.

Key eligibility requirements for this route are as follows:

  • The applicant must have a pension income guaranteed for life of at least $1000 a month, and will need to provide evidence of this through documentation from an insurance company or bank.
  • Alternatively, a lifetime monthly annuity of at least $750 plus a confirmation of purchase of real estate valued at $100,000 minimum will also be accepted.
  • The applicant’s monthly pension must be received though a private institution, international organisation or foreign government
  • No minimum age requirement

Find out more about retiring overseas

Whether you are approaching retirement, or just simply curious, rest assured that SSW are able to provide full support with retirement visas, queries and post-arrival assistance.

With the help of our global network, we are able to navigate international law and assist with the processing of this visa route and ensure that local immigration rules are met thereafter.

To speak to an immigration advisor, please contact us today.

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