Law on digital nomads approved in second debate


QCOSTARICA – Lawmakers approved in a second debate on Tuesday the bill to grant special benefits to foreign workers who come to Costa Rica to provide international services.

The benefit for digital nomads includes a special migration sub-category up to two years, as well as tax exemptions. Photo: Courtesy of TIC

This is the initiative known as “Digital Nomads”, for the benefit of foreigners who come to the country to do remote work, for clients outside our country.

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The initiative, presented by Carlos Ricardo Benavides of the Partido Liberacion Nacional (PLN), essentially establishes a special immigration status for these people, as well as an exemption from income tax.

Foreigners who wish to enter this category will have to manage it, according to the approved initiative, through the Dirección General de Migración Extranjería (DGME) – Costa Rica’s immigration service, in order to be able to opt for these benefits.

The objective of the approved law is, as the text says, “to promote long-term visits to Costa Rica and to increase the expenditure of resources of foreign origin in the country”.

Basically, the intention is that these foreigners consume in the country and that, with the approved law, there will be an increase of this type of professionals on Costa Rican soil.

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For this benefit, only foreigners who provide services to clients outside of national soil could opt, but not Costa Ricans who travel to different parts of the country, providing services to international clients.

The definition of remote service provider explains that these are foreign professionals, who carry out their work using a computer, telecommunications or similar means, for the benefit of natural or legal persons domiciled in the foreign.

These people will have non-resident immigrant status. The approved law obliges Migración to establish a digital platform to apply for the category of digital nomad.

Among the requirements for choosing this category, the digital nomad must provide proof that they have a stable monthly salary, a fixed income or an average monthly income equal to or greater than $ 3,000.

The allowance can be paid to two people who make up the family group, but with an average monthly income equal to or greater than US $ 4,000.

In addition, the nomad will need to acquire a medical services policy that will cover him throughout his stay in Costa Rica.

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The DGME will invoice the teleworker for the payment of a non-resident visa, the amount of which will be determined by regulation.

According to article 14 of the initiative, people who apply for the category of digital nomad “may not exercise in the national territory paid work or services other than those authorized by their immigration sub-category”. This means you won’t see a digital nomad shopping at your local supermarket.

The duration of the immigration benefit will be a maximum of two years: one year extendable for an equal period. To request the extension, the beneficiary must have been on national soil for at least 180 days of the year initially granted to him.

In addition to the exemption from paying income tax, digital nomads will also be exempt from paying import taxes on basic personal computers, computers, telecommunications or similar equipment.

The Benavides initiative also allows foreigners to use their driving license issued in the country of origin, if it is valid, and to open a bank account in a Costa Rican bank.

According to the legislator, the proposal “will allow to receive thousands of digital nomads who will come for periods of up to a year to telecommute, using accommodation, food, internal transport, commercial and professional services”.

He argued that this will help reactivate the Costa Rican economy.

After the initiative was approved, the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) thanked lawmakers for the initiative, arguing that it “strengthens the tourism competitiveness” of the country.

For the bill to become law, it requires the signature of President Carlos Alvarado (no objections are expected) and published in La Gaceta, the official government bulletin within days of the President’s signature.

As is generally the case with new bills, the government has a reasonable amount of time to issue regulations.

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