Costa Rica is one of the few countries where foreigners can own titled property with the same rights as the locals. Property is easily transferred within a couple of weeks in the national registry if everything is clear. We suggest you use an escrow company to do due diligence before finalizing a deal and to secure the funds. The banks abide rules dictated by the General Supervisory Agency of Finance (SUGEF) which are always changing so make sure you get the most current information.
Costa Rica´s territory is divided between titled land and coastal areas, which are referred to as Maritime Zone and have a special set of rules and regulations that apply. The Maritime Zone runs along the coast and is 200 meters wide. There are some towns that are considered port towns where the Maritime Zone law is not applied. The first 50 meters of this strip is inalienable(nothing can be built here) and the other 150 meters belong to the government who can give permission to use the land thru concession or possesion rights. If you would like more detail about the Maritime Zone, READ HERE. Each county has a local goverment and there are internal rules that differ between them so I suggest that you become familiar with the one where you plan on purchasing.
CORPORATION VRS PERSONAL OWNERSHIP
Owning land in person or in a corporation is another decision you will be making also. Even though you can own land in the national registry in your personal name there are reasons to consider forming a corporation. One thing to know is that the ICE which provides your electricity does not allow foreigners to own an electric meter, this means you have to put it in a corporation. Another thing to think about is what happens in case of death? It is much easier and faster for the beneficiary of the property to obtain ownership with a corporation. For more information READ HERE. Make sure you take time to get legal asistance, do not hesitate to ask lots of questions before making a decision.
A FEW TIPS ABOUT OWNING PROPERTY
Once you have purchased your property and your lawyer gives you the document showing proof of ownership, within a couple weeks you can go online to the national registry and find if your property has been transfered. Once it is transfered you print out a document as proof and you will need to go to the local municipality to register it there under your name or corporation. This is so you can pay property taxes. Property taxes are minimal and can be paid in quarterly terms, the first quarter is due by March 31, the second by June 30, the third by September 30 and the final by December 31. The billing system is terrible so don´t expect to get billed ahead of time, you are responsable to go to the municipality and ask how much is due. If you due not pay on time they charge interest.
Another important step to take is going to the utility companies (electric, water, phone, cable and internet) with proof of ownership and get the contracts changed to the correct name. If you have a corporation always carry an updated copy of your personeria juridica, this shows who represents the corporation.