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Costa Rica Real Estate Law

The Short Course

Revised by
Guillermo Zuniga
Guitierrez, Hernandez y Pauly Law Firm

Costa Rica ranks fourth place in the world as an ideal environment for foreign investment, because there are few restrictions on foreigners owning land in Costa Rica, foreigners enjoy the same rights as Costa Ricans and do not require any special conditions to purchase property within Costa Rica. The one exception is the Terrestrial Maritime Zone discussed below.

In Costa Rica, there are some restrictions for land use, so we recommend performing a due diligence over each property title to determine if the location, soil, easements, restriction zones, and other incumbent’s aspects do not affect the intended use. Advice from professionals on these subjects is recommended.

Costa Rica Real Estate law

Required Documents to buy Costa Rica Real Estate

Foreigners must have a valid Passport or Proof of Residency card. Costa Ricans must provide their ID.

Corporations must be duly registered in Costa Rica and the legal representative must provide the corporate card and a certificate of incorporation in good standing.

A Municipal Certificate from the local Municipality must show that taxes are paid and that the seller has no debts within that municipality.

A Cadastral Survey, duly recorded in the National Register, is necessary for each Costa Rica real estate property transaction.

Real Estate Property Registry Report showing that the property is free of liens, mortgages, annotations and encumbrances.

A power of attorney may be used if one of the parties will not be present at the time of signing the sales documents.

Costa Rica Real Estate Information

Properties in Costa Rica are recorded in an electronic database operated by the Real Estate Property Registry, a section of the Costa Rica National Registry. The database provides public access and you can verify the information from any place in the world with an Internet connection.

The electronic report will show basic information regarding owner, location, cadastral survey number, boundaries and the area. In addition to that, the report will show if the property has easements, liens, annotations, mortgages and other encumbrances.

Century 21 Beach Area Properties Real Estate recommends that the future buyer hires an attorney-at-law in order to make an historic due diligence over the property, in order to have a larger certainty about the origin and ownership of the Costa Rican property.

Nicoya Peninsula Costa Rica real estate

However, not all properties in Costa Rica are recorded in the Real Estate Property Registry. There are still some properties in Costa Rica, were the owners are not holder of a title. Instead, they have occupation rights and it is necessary to follow a procedure before a Courthouse in order to obtain an order from a Judge to record the property in the Costa Rica Real Estate Property Register.

Other exception is the Maritime Zone. Maritime Zone is defined as the seacoast area located two hundred meters from the high tide line. The Maritime Zone is divided in two sections: 1. Public area; and 2. Concession area. The Public area includes the first fifty meters from the high tide line. The Concession area is located between the fifty meters and the two hundred meters. The Municipalities manage concession areas and they can be granted in 20-year term leases (or concessions) to private parties, with several limitations.

Foreigners not familiar with Costa Rican Real Estate law would be well advised to seek the advice and support of a reputable Costa Rican law firm. Century 21 Beach Area Properties can recommend a number of attorneys who speak English and who will assist you in accomplishing your goal of owning and enjoying your Costa Rica real estate.

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Century21 Beach Area Properties
Costa Rica Real Estate and Investments
Los Delfines Golf & Country Club, Tambor Costa Rica
Phone: (506) 2683-0332