“How long must I live in Costa Rica (and must I be full time) to qualify for Caja? And, when I do qualify, what does it cost? I continue to get very different answers to these questions. Can you set me straight?” – Sherry B.
To best answer Sherry’s question, we consulted our Costa Rica residency expert, Javier Zavaleta with Residency in Costa Rica. Here’s his answer:
To qualify for Caja you must be a legal resident of Costa Rica. Once you get your paperwork that shows your residency has been approved, you will have about one month before your one and only residency appointment at Migracion to have your resident ID card (your cedula) issued. During this time, you will have to go to CCSS and apply for Caja.
You will pay for the first month and be given a receipt. When you go for your appointment at Migracion, you will show that receipt to prove that you are signed up for Caja.
You do not have to be living in Costa Rica full time to qualify for Caja. It goes by the terms of residency which, I believe, is to be in-country for at least one (1) day out of the year. FYI, the old requirement of 4 months, or 122 days per year, was replaced with at least one day per year when the new Ley de Migracion took effect back on March 1, 2010.
The cost of your monthly Caja depends on several factors, including the residency program used for the application, monthly income and age. Will you be coming as a Rentista or Pensionado? How old are you (or your spouse if you are applying as a dependent under his/her name)?
If you are coming as a Pensionado, the fee is charged based on how much money from Social Security or pension you receive per month. In general, Pensionados pay about 8% of their monthly pension; and Rentistas, whose income is set by law at $2500 per month, and if under 55 years of age pay about $400, which is reduced to about $300 once they turn 55.
These fees are only an estimate and are subject to change. It’s important to keep in mind that Caja does not charge additional fees to cover a spouse or dependent children under the age of 18. Thus, a single Pensionado applicant, age 62, with a monthly pension of $1200 would pay about $96 per month for Caja coverage. If married, that same applicant and the spouse would both be covered by Caja for one fee of $96 per month. If that same couple had children also applying for Caja coverage, the fee would remain the same, $96 per month for the entire family.”