Wednesday, December 12, 2007

March 20, 2007 - Costa Rican Residency

A lot has happened in the last month and a half!

Rick and I went back to Costa Rica and got our Cédulas and driver's licenses, I retired (!), and we visited my folks in California. I think this calls for multiple entries...

So, first – our Residency!

It all started last year when we decided to live in Costa Rica long-term. We signed up with ARCR, and enlisted their help for the process (January 2006).

We collected our documents (birth certificates, marriage certificate, and police reports), got them notarized, certified by the secretary of state, and consularized. This involved a few mini-adventures. I had a certified birth certificate because of work, so I thought I was ahead of the game – turned out that it was too old (the secretary of state couldn't certify that it was valid - after 20 years...). Since we found this out while in Sacramento, we quickly drove to Auburn and got another one, and *tried* to return in time to get the new document certified – durned traffic... Rick returned by train the next week and got the required stamp). The rest of the documents were pretty easy – we got our police reports from the local office, within half an hour, Rick got the others by mail, and we got them notarized & certified in Sacramento on our way to visit with my folks.

Next, we arranged for a wire transfer from our bank here to what would be our new bank in Costa Rica. (that is, we told our bank to expect a fax).

Then, another trip to Costa Rica! Our first business day there, we met with the folks at ARCR. They wrote a letter of introduction for us to the Banco National, which we took to the bank and opened two accounts (dollars and colones). Then we faxed the wire transfer request to our USA bank. Several days later, we returned to the bank, confirmed the money had made it, and set up laddered CDs. Then the bank wrote a letter for immigration, stating that they guaranteed an income (based on the CDs) for 5 years. We took this letter and all the rest of our documents to ARCR. They did some more paperwork, and took us to get fingerprints at the San Jose police station. We paid half our fee, and ARCR took it from there. The fingerprints go to Interpol, and the resulting Interpol report goes with all the other documents to Costa Rica immigration.

The important thing for us was to get everything to immigration before August 12, 2006 – that was the date that the immigration law was to change. Missing that means doubling the money in the Costa Rican bank.

We were told the Interpol report could take 4-6 weeks. As it turned out, our request for residency got into immigration by the end of June – plenty of time!

In September, ARCR told us they needed to send the documents to the consulate in the USA – this was a new step, as a result of the law change in August. In addition, the government fees had gone up. It turned out we didn't have to do anything – they were simply advising us of the changes.

By mid-October, we were notified that our residency was approved! Now we need to make sure we maintain the residency. This means that in each residency year, we have to be able to show that we were in the country for 122 days or more, and that we converted the prescribed number of dollars to colones. The bank will produce a report we can use, and our passport stamps will show our time-in-country. We are also advised to keep our tickets/boarding passes as backup documentation.

Next! Make sure we spend enough time in Costa Rica (More trips! Oh no!)

Now we need to pick up the Cédulas. In November, we send a check for the rest of the fee to ARCR, and they get an appointment for us with immigration in February 2007.

Next entry - The Cédulas appointment.

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