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Pensionado-rentista proposal Residents would have to have much more dough By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A new residency law would give tax breaks to foreigners living here but require them to show they had income five or six times what is mandated now.

Rentistas and pensionados would be able to bring in household goods and a car without paying taxes. This is similar to provisions that existed in the law until 1992.

Rentistas would have to show monthly income of $6,000 instead of the current $1,000. And pensionados would have to show they had a pension of at least $3,000 a month. Now the pension must be at least $600 monthly.

The proposed law, Nº 15.432, also would establish minimum age limits for pensionados (55 years) and for rentistas (45 years). There are no age limits now. Disabled persons would be exempt from age limits, as would family members.

The proposal came to public view when it was published Oct. 28 in the Gaceta, the official government newspaper. The law carried the notation that it passed a review by the Comisión Permanente de Gobierno y Administración. This is the same committee that is considering a massive rewrite of the immigration laws. One criticism of the proposed immigration law was that it did not contain a provision for rentista status.

Ryan Piercy, manager of the Association of Residents of Costa Rica, said that his organization finds a lot good in the pensionado-rentista law, including the tax breaks. However, he said the association would lobby to reduce the monthly income that would be required of persons holding either types of residency. He said $3,000 and $6,000 a month was too much.

Monthly income requirement


Proposed Rentista $1,000

$6,000 Pensionado



Piercy said he understood that the proposal hadthe backing of the administration. His association has lawyers on contract and guides many foreigners through the residency process.

When the administration presented its new immigration law, the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública publicized the project extensively. By contract, this is the first public mention of the pensionado-rentista law. The Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería is part of the ministry.

Under current law, anyone can obtain rentista status by showing that they have $60,000 in a Costa Rican or foreign bank. They cannot work here and are required to bring $12,000 a year into the country. Pensionados must have a valid and recognized pension. The rentista category is subject to abuse by persons who can simply buy a temporary residency, officials complain.

A preface to the proposed law said that 10,260 persons had taken advantage of pensionado and rentista status since the law was passed in 1971. Since the tax breaks were eliminated new residents moving here can pay $3,000 or more import taxes on personal belonging, and imported automobiles carry a tax of up to 89 percent depending on the age.

Meanwhile, Piercy continues to try to resolve a separate immigration problem. Officials have challenged the way a lawyer for the association and several other lawyers elsewhere have validated immigration documents. The challenge has put a number of foreign residents in limbo.--

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Last edited January 18, 2004 11:43 pm (diff)