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Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Lexincorp Abogados

1

Restrictions

Can anyone (including foreigners) own and occupy real estate in your jurisdiction (including shares in property owning companies)? Are there any restrictions?

Yes, there are no restrictions for foreigners to own or occupy real estate in Costa Rica, either personally or as owner of the capital stock of a company. The only restriction would be the properties within the Maritime Zone (in front of the coasts), since those ones can only be owned by Costa Ricans, or foreigners with a valid residency card, or through a company, in which at least 51% of its capital stock is owned by Costa Ricans.

Are there restrictions on lending for the purchase of real estate by foreign companies? If so briefly give an outline?

Not really, there is are no legal restrictions per se in that sense. Now, it is not common at all that foreign companies would be the ones asking for a loan in Costa Rica to purchase a real estate, since actually, very few foreign companies own real estate in our country, although, it is possible, for which the foreign company must appoint a legal representative in the country and obtain a corporate identification number.

2

Taxes

Buying

Please provide a short summary of the fees and costs (including tax) relating to buying real estate in your jurisdiction.

It would be around 3,5% of the purchase in total, divided as follows:

  • 1% Legal Fees;
  • 1% Registry Stamps;
  • 1,5% Transfer Tax.

It is important to note that the amount over which the percentage must be calculated, shall be the higher one between the fiscal value of the property and the real transaction value and in most cases, the real transaction value is the higher amount.

However, there is an obligation to pay "capital gain tax", provided that the seller is selling in a higher amount that the price which he/she originally acquired the property in the past.

Tax Breaks

Are there tax breaks or other incentives for foreigners to buy real estate in your jurisdiction? If so what are they?

There are no incentives for nationals or foreigners.

3

Title of Real Estate

How is the ownership of Real Estate evidenced in your jurisdiction?

Every property in Costa Rica shall be duly recorded or registered before the Costa Rican Property Registry, which is part of one and only and centralized National Registry for the entire country (a small country of 51,200 km2). When there is a transfer or conveyance of a property / real estate, the same must be done through a public deed made by a Notary Public, and later on, it must be duly recorded before the National Registry.

Is it possible to keep the identity of owners of real estate confidential in your jurisdiction?

It is not possible if the property is owned personally; however, if it is owned by a Costa Rican company, then, that provides some sort of “protection” in that regards, because in any case, the companies must appoint legal representatives (or at least one), and usually it will be the owners of the capital stock of those companies, the same legal representatives. The only way would be by appointing trustworthy representatives, to either own the real estate under their personal names, or to be appointed as the legal representatives of the company that owns the property.

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Eugenio Vargas
Lexincorp Central America
San Jose, Costa Rica