Do you want to know how to open a bank account in Costa Rica? Opening a bank account in Costa Rica might come with some processes and can be frustrating, especially if you don’t understand how the banking system works. However, opening a bank account is a smooth way of carrying out financial transactions without moving about with cash.
So whether you have a business to do in Costa Rica or living there, having a bank account there is what you need. It will be easy for cash tellers to go over the counter, make deposits, pay bills, and complete transactions online.
In this article, you will learn all you need to know about opening an account, including the necessary documents and process you need. So, read on to learn how to have hassle-free financial transactions in Costa Rica.
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Who is Eligible to Open an Account in Costa Rica
Opening an account in Costa Rica is very beneficial if you wish to carry out various transactions in the country. If you are a permanent resident in Costa Rica with a bank account, you are entitled to full banking powers to make transfers, including online banking.
However, you must state where your money comes from if your country requires it. For example, Canada and the US require that all citizens must declare any foreign account that they have. This measure monitors activities like money laundering and other illegal financial dealings.
If you are a good citizen, paying your tax, and have no business using your Costa Rica account to launder money, then you should have an account there. So if you are in for the extra paperwork and need an account in Costa Rica, your legal team can handle the vital document.
You must keep the account active by making at least one monthly transaction. If you are in Costa Rica for some time, say, at least six months, or you live in the country full time, then you need to open a bank account. It’s easier to have your money where you can easily access it.
You will also be able to run transactions and pay your bills online. Moreover, you can use the cash tellers and have anyone deposit money directly into your account.
If you are gainfully employed, working, and earning a salary in the country. You will need an account to receive funds. However, if you only come into the country for just a few months or run only a rental business there, you won’t need to face the hurdles of opening an account.
If you only run a rental business, you can get a property manager to pay the bills. They can help you handle all the business expenses and costs of operation from the funds generated from the business.
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Banking in Costa Rica for Foreigners
Costa Rica has two types of banks in operation. One is the national bank owned by the government and the private banks.
The government-owned banks or national banks usually have a large customer presence. They have branches and ATM stands in almost all the towns in the country. If you live in rural areas, you will most likely use national banks because they are everywhere. However, prepare yourself for the long queues in national banks.
Using a private bank is much easier, especially for foreigners, because you can easily find English-speaking staff. However, the challenge is that they have few branches and ATMs, and in many cases, you have to go to a specific area to use them.
After deciding the banks you want to use, the next step is to open an account which should not be a problem. Once you can bring the required documents, then you are good to go.
Typically, bank working hours are usually from 9 am to 3 pm every day of the week except Saturdays and Sundays. However, banks in shopping malls open from 12 pm to 6 pm every day. If you want to withdraw funds, you should use an ATM, especially one with a closed cabin, for security purposes.
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What are the Documents You need to Open a Bank Account in Costa Rica
Here are a few documents you will need to open a bank account, which depends on your choice of bank.
Costa Rica banks require that foreigners submit a DIMEX immigration identification card to open an account. As stated, this regulation is for foreigners only, as residents, students, and temporary workers can make do with their passports as means of identification.
Banks usually require a certain minimum deposit amount when opening an account. The amount is not fixed. It all depends on the bank you use and the type of account you wish to open. A savings account will require at least a minimum deposit of $25 or 5,000 CRC, while a checking account starts with a minimum of $500 to $100.
You must provide receipts of any utility bills like water, Internet, or electric bill showing your residence. If the bill is in your homeowner’s name, you must bring proof of your rental agreement with the landlord.
Submit proof of income, maybe a payslip showing you have a source of income. If you are an independent worker, you can submit a certificate of income like the Certificación De Ingresos. Ensure that any document you submit shows your name, occupation, and income.
For non-residents, you will provide your passport, and it must have an entry stamp of the country.
The account opening requires a verified and approved Know your client (KYC) document.
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Can Foreigners Open an Account in Costa Rica Banks
Anyone in Costa Rica can open an account. It doesn’t matter if you are a foreigner living there or a resident. So if you are a foreigner and want to own an account there, you can go right ahead.
However, opening an account requires you to meet some criteria and procedures. Note that none residents in Costa Rica will have to pay certain tax regulations, so ensure you find out about this from the bank or tax personnel.
Another thing is to know the specific requirements of the bank you choose, as banks operate with different guidelines. However, there are a few general requirements that you should expect to have from Costa Rica banks.
The first is a means of identification as a foreigner. You will have to present a passport for identification. Also, legal residency people can use the Costa Rican card (cedula).
You must show proof of your physical location in the country. You can submit documents like a rental agreement or utility bill to show proof of your residence.
Banks will require a minimum initial deposit when opening an account. There is no fixed deposit amount you will pay. It varies from bank to bank.
Proof that you work and earn income which you must prove by showing documents of your source of income.
This does not apply to every bank in Costa Rica, as some of them might require you to provide references from other banks.
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How Can I Open an Account For a Corporation in Costa Rica
Corporations who like to open an account, whether to purchase a property or business in Costa Rica, are welcome to do that. Your corporation will need an attorney to help in the process. Also, before opening the corporate account, ensure the Attorney is involved. However, you will still need to be there in person to fill out the forms while your attorney will handle other necessary documentation.
Here are some of the documents you will need if you wish to open an account for your corporation in Costa Rica:
- Certificate of Stock Ownership
- Utility bill showing the company’s location.
- Certificate of good reputation
- Documents of company incorporation
- Proof of company income or the income of a pre-scheduled business
- Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act Form (a requirement for US Shareholders).
Banks in Costa Rica That You Can Open an Account With
Before you head to any bank to open an account, always ensure you choose a reliable bank that will meet your needs. In Costa Rica, there are two types of banks you can open an account with, government (national) banks and private banks. One significant thing about banking with government banks is that your deposits are more guaranteed than private banks.
The three government (national) banks in Costa Rica are as follows:
- Banco de Costa Rica
- Banco Nacional de Costa Rica
- Banco Popular
The private banks are also listed here, they are:
- Banco Cathay (Costa Rica) S.A.
- Banco General Costa Rica S.A.
- Banco BCT S.A
- Banco Improsa S.A.
- Banco Promérica de Costa Rica S.A.
- Banco Davivienda de Costa Rica S.A.
- Prival Bank (Costa Rica) S.A.
- Banco Lafise S.A.
- Scotiabank de Costa Rica S.A.
If you want to open an account in Costa Rica, you must be patient because processing takes time. Once you can meet the requirements and get the necessary documents, that is all you need to open your account.
The procedure might take a few days to a week or even more before the bank verifies and approves your account. It will then take one more week to get the cards from the account and to do this. You must return to the bank to get the card or cards.