After two debates in Costa Rica’s National Assembly, legislators voted to approve the new “Digital Nomad” initiative (Law Project Number 22,215) that gives special benefits to foreigners who work remotely from Costa Rica for their clients outside of the country.

You may not have heard the term “Digital Nomad” used much before the COVID 19 pandemic. But odds are, you’re probably familiar with it today. The number of remote workers skyrocketed during the pandemic as offices closed and people began telecommuting from their kitchens, bedrooms, dens – and even closets – at home. Remote working has become the new norm and many people will never return to their bricks and mortar offices ever again. A computer, mobile device, and internet connectivity is all they need to work – not only from home – but from just about anywhere in the world that meets their remote working criteria.

That’s a fact that hasn’t been lost on Costa Rican government legislator Carlos Ricardo Benavides, a member of the Partido Liberacion Nacional (PLN), who introduced the initiative. The objective of the law is clear and simple. It reads, “to promote long-stay visitation in Costa Rica and increase the expenditure of resources of foreign origin in the country.”

OK, maybe that’s clear and simple to a legislator, but to you and me it means that by giving remote workers and incentive to work here in Costa Rica rather than somewhere else in the world, more Digital Nomads will move here and spend their disposable income on things like home or apartment rentals, groceries, restaurants and entertainment, car rentals, vehicle purchases, drugs and pharmaceuticals, and maybe even a real estate purchase (hint, hint). That, in turn, will stimulate the Costa Rican economy, creating more revenue and jobs for Costa Ricans. It’s a win/win for all!

To be clear, this immigration status is NOT a work visa. Article 14 of the initiative explicitly states that people who request the category of Digital Nomad, “may not engage in paid work or services in the national territory other than what is allowed by their immigration subcategory.” So it’s fine if you work from your computer on your off-shore client accounts, but you won’t be working as a chef, a beautician, carpenter, computer guy, or any other occupation that a Costa Rican national can fill. That’s strictly taboo and can get you a one-way ticket back to your home country.

The term of this special immigration benefit will be up to two years. Nomads may extend their first year for and equal period if they can prove they’ve been on Costa Rican soil for at least 180 days during the year their Digital Nomad status was originally granted. They’ll also have to purchase an approved medical insurance policy that covers their stay here.

Finally, Digital Nomads will have to prove a fixed or average monthly income of at least $3,000 USD. For a family of two or more, that number goes up to $4,000 USD/month. And the Dirección General de Migración Extranjería, (DGME) – Costa Rica’s immigration service – will charge the person seeking Nomad status the equivalent of the fee for a non-resident visa (to be determined by regulation).

So, assuming I meet the criteria, what’s the big deal? What more could possibly motivate me to want to come and work remotely from one of the most beautiful, peaceful, laid back, green, and sustainable countries on Earth? Here’s what!

  • Digital nomads will not be required to pay income tax in Costa Rica! They may have tax liabilities in their countries of origin, however.
  • Foreigners with Digital Nomad status will also be exempt on paying import taxes on personal computers, telecommunications, information technology, or similar equipment. So, basically, all your tech gear will be exempt from import taxes. That can add up pretty quickly.
  • Normally, foreign driver’s licenses are good here for 90 days before the bearer needs to obtain a Costa Rican driver’s license. But an exception will be made for Digital Nomads who will be able to use their foreign driver’s license as long as it is valid. Check that off the list.
  • Opening a bank account with a Costa Rican bank will also be streamlined for persons with Digital Nomad status.

So, maybe you’re thinking about making the move to Costa Rica full-time but aren’t really sure about the magnitude of the lifestyle change. The new Digital Nomad incentive is a great way to get your feet wet here. You can work remotely, be exempt from Costa Rica income and some key import taxes, and make money while you live the “Pura Vida” lifestyle.

Somewhere along the line you’ll most likely get off the fence and make the decision to move here. And, when you do, the Nosara Community team will be here to assist you. In fact, we’re going to plant a seed here (because that’s one of the things Costa Ricans do best). Be sure to check out our $159,000 Investor Incentive Package. You may not be ready to pull the trigger on it now, but we’ll be here when you are.

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¡Pura vida! From all of us at Nosara Community.