Starting a Business in Costa Rica
Some people move down to Costa Rica to retire, with plenty of savings and other funds to kick back and relax. But more often than not, expats that choose to make Costa Rica their new home have to work for a living to bring in enough income to get by.
Don’t fall for the misconception that everything will be cheap and easy becausRica is a tropical Central American country. But in fact, Costa Rica is no banana republic; in the nicest neighborhoods of San José, or in popular international tourist destinations like Tamarindo, costs can rival that of in the United States or Canada. So, you’ll probably find yourself working – or opening your own business.
As we’ve documented in this guide, getting work may be no insignificant proposition, but very rewarding once you’ve landed the right income stream (you won’t feel like you’re in the “rat race”).
Likewise, opening your own business may be the best path to earning money. To do it properly, I encourage you to take your time, study the area, the market for your services and the competition, talk to a lot of business owners, network with the right locals and expats, and build a super conservative business plan.
Owning a business can be a supreme headache in Costa Rica if you’re not prepared and don’t have the right, trustworthy people on board. But once you’ve carved out your niche and done all the hard work to get the doors open and promote your business, it can bear huge fruit, giving you the opportunity not only to live in paradise but also make great money at the same time!
Here are some tips and notes on opening a business in Costa Rica:
The government makes it easy for foreigners to do business here in part because they want more jobs created for Ticos.
You don’t even have to be a resident – you can start a business on a tourist visa.
In fact, Costa Rica commercial law does not mandate that owners and shareholders in companies have to be citizens. Foreign business owners do, however, name a local Tico licensed attorney to be their “resident agent.
A standard 90-day tourist visa allows you to buy an existing business, like a hotel or B&B, or to build your own.
Keep in mind that only two out of three expats who go into business here succeed.
Whatever you do, don’t expect to strike it rich. With luck, you can make a good living and enjoy an amazing quality of life in Costa Rica!
When opening a business in Costa Rica, there are several options for corporate structure:
1. General partnership, or Sociedad en Nombre Colectivo
The business entity is owned by partners, who share the liabilities and responsibilities. Since not a common or attractive choice since there is little liability protection, with the company typically just the owners’ last names followed by the word “Compañia.”
2. Limited partnership, or Sociedad en Comandita
This entity is operated by a group – sort of like a board – that is responsible to the interests of shareholders. Their liability is limited to the original declared value of the enterprise.
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