Sep 26 2014

Applying for Permanent Residency in Costa Rica


Sample Temporary Cédula

Just yesterday, September 25, 2014, we applied for permanent residency status in Costa Rica. It turned out to be easier than we thought, though speaking Spanish was a great help.

The first thing we did was to visit the Migración office in Puntarenas, which is about an hour’s drive from our house. We live about the same distance away from the main office in San Jose, but chose to go to Puntarenas because it is much smaller and less crowded. When we asked what we needed to do to apply for permanent residency, they gave us a small piece of paper with the following printed on it:

Cambio de Categoria (Change of Category)

  1. Tener Cédula de Residencia Temporal x mas de 3 años. (Have a temporary residency card for at least 3 years.)
  2. Carta de Solicitud de cambio categoria. (A letter requesting a change of residency category.)
  3. Copia y original de Cédula residencia. (Your actual residency card and a copy of both the front and back.)
  4. Depósito Bancario por $200 CTA #242480-0 del BCR. (A bank deposit slip showing you have deposited $200 into the specified account at Banco Costa Rica. Note: this is actually a colones account; you give them $200 USD and the bank converts it into colones and deposits it into the account.)

In addition, though the note didn’t say to bring it, we completed a form that our friend Tom told us we would need. We downloaded it from this link, filled it out, and brought it along with everything else. [NOTE: The form is called “Formulario de Filiación 2018.pdf” and is located on the “Permanente” tab.] It saved us time once we went back to Migración yesterday to file our paperwork. One important thing to note: All of the above needs to be done for each person, so if you are applying as a couple, you EACH need to bring everything, including the $200 deposit.

Here’s a quick video about the process which we made as we were leaving the Migración offices in Puntarenas:


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  1. Good information Paul. We did the same thing about 18 months ago and have only progressed up to the “Resolucion Firma” stage. Please post your progress so we can compare. Do you plan to use their web tool to check on the application or will you revisit Punterenas? Also, do you know the location of any other Migracion offices that can also process this application? We know of La Uruca and now Punterenas but there may be others. La Uruca is swamped.

    1. We will definitely post our progress. We plan to use the online tool to check the progress, probably after about 3 months. They told us in Puntarenas that it would take 3-4 months. I don’t know if they have other offices but I would imagine the info is on the Migracion website somewhere. Let us know what happens with yours as well. Can you define “Resolucion Firma?”

      1. The various steps are defined here:

        I take the “resolucion firmas” status to be that our application is still “in the works” and is waiting on someone to sign it. The website advises that I should check every 15 days to see if any progresshas been made. The next step is “resolucion notificada”, meaning that the resolution has been signed and is ready to pick-up (or has been faxed). Then an appointment must be made for the actual cedula (pictures, fingerprints etc) issuance.

  2. About 18 months ago i completed all the paperwork etc. for my permanent residency. All those little boxes were checked and everything was in order. I was told it would be about 3 months. Irrelevant this, but i am married to a Tica and we have a baby together.

    About thirteen months later the site finally said that i had a resolution. I copied the page showing this and went to the Uruca office and waited about 2-3 hours to talk with someone. At that point i found out my job that day was just to get an appointment. So i got an appointment for the next day.

    Came back and waited a long time again the next day. At that point they informed us that a translation of my police records wasn’t with the file. IT ABSOLUTELY HAD BEEN. It was checked off, my wife and I both remember it being there. Luckily i had copies of everything. So i was able to talk with someone and get permission to bypass the line the next day and bring in the “missing” doc. Still took about an hour and a half, but we delivered the doc the next day.

    At this point we were told it would be about 3 months. It’s now been almost 6 months more and we’re still waiting…..

    1. Thanks Brian for the info. We know lots of people who, unfortunately, had to wait more than 2 years for a resolution on their residency applications. We were really lucky in that it only took 5 months for us.

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