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Work Permit Requirements for Foreigners in Costa Rica


Daniela Diaz Polo


October 09, 2021


10:43 AM

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According to Costa Rica's Ministry of Labor, all foreigners who have a residence card free of status, work permit or legal status of refugee or asylee can exercise legal work in the country.

For this reason, the foreign person who wishes to carry out paid work in Costa Rica must, in the first instance, request an immigration category that allows it, be it a temporary residence or a special work permit. However, foreigners who have a free permanent residence card (DIMEX) can work without previously requiring a work permit.

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How is the Work Permit Obtained?

The work permit is an authorization, issued by the General Directorate of Migration and Foreigners, that all foreigners who wish to work in Costa Rica must have. To give this authorization, the Directorate considers the opinions prepared by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, by means of which it determines whether or not the work permit is recommended, based on criteria for the displacement of national labor.

Who applies for the Work Permit?

Work permits must be managed by the employer based on current legislation, before the General Directorate of Migration and Immigration. It is the obligation of foreign workers to keep their documents in order and provide the necessary documentation to the employer at the time of carrying out the respective procedure before the General Directorate of Migration and Immigration.

What are the requirements to apply for a work permit?

  • Affiliation form (application).
  • Letter explaining why you are requesting the work permit, including full name, nationality, age, occupation, address of the exact place of residence, and place or form of notification.
  • Payment receipt of ¢ 125.00 and ¢ 2.50 for each sheet submitted with the residence application. It must be paid for by the applicant and include their name.
  • Two recent passport size photographs.
  • Proof of fingerprint registration issued by the Ministry of Public Security.
  • Proof of consular registration.
  • Certified birth certificate.
  • Criminal record certificate from the country of origin or where you have legally resided for the last three years. Certified copy of the immigration document to demonstrate the legality of residence in that country.
  • Photocopy of all the pages of the valid passport.
  • Authenticated job offer indicating at least the functions, the hours and the agreed salary.
  • Certificate of legal status of the company or institution issued not earlier than one month after the presentation of the temporary residence application for the foreign worker.
  • Proof that the company or society is up to date with the payment of municipal and tributary taxes.
  • Certificate of income, balance and income statement, issued by a Certified Public Accountant.
  • Certification indicating that the worker's insurance is up to date.

Rights and Obligations of the Foreign Worker

Foreign persons admitted or authorized as permanent residents may participate in any task, remunerated or lucrative activity on their own account, or in a dependency relationship, according to their income category and in accordance with the laws that regulate their exercise and with what the Law of Migration and Foreigners has.

On the other hand, foreigners admitted as temporary, may, with the exceptions established by law, develop salaried or lucrative tasks on their own account or in a dependent relationship only during the period of their legal stay and in those activities authorized by the Management General of Migration, after a favorable report from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.

Obligation of Workers

All workers must be affiliated with the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS) and have insurance against work accidents that the employer pays to the National Insurance Institute.

Workers’ Rights

Foreign workers have the same rights in the employment relationship as nationals (payment of their salary, Christmas bonus, vacations, unemployment, social security, among others).

No employer may take or retain the passport of foreign workers.

Foreign workers must verify that their rights are applied, otherwise they can go to the competent institutions (Ministry of Labor and Social Security, Costa Rican Social Security Fund, National Insurance Institute, Courts of Justice, among others).

The fact that a company has a foreign worker with irregular immigration status does not exempt it from all its labor obligations; and it does not prevent the foreign worker from going to the offices of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security for their respective information and advice.

Sanctions for Foreigners Working Irregularly

If a foreign person carries out paid work without having the respective immigration permit, he is punished with deportation and payment of fines.

It is the responsibility of the employer to verify the legal permanence of the foreign worker, since the Law indicates that that natural or legal person who hires foreign persons in an irregular condition will be exposed to administrative sanctions, and in accordance with the provisions of the Law.

Learn More About Residency Visas in Costa Rica

ERP Lawyers is a boutique firm specializing in Immigration Law.

Connect with Daniela to explore visa pathways to Costa Rica.

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