Opening a bank account in Costa Rica

Hi all,

is it difficult for expats to open a bank account in Costa Rica ?

Which documents are required to open a bank account in Costa Rica ?

How long does it take to open it ?

Is there any restriction for expats regarding the services (loans for instance)  ?

Which bank would you recommend ?

Thanks in advance for your participation,


a friend who spends 3 mos at a time here as a tourist just opened an acct with BNCR
he needed a letter/reference from a local with an acct, and he had a letter from his US bank
then just the normal ID stuff
not difficult at all

I have done the same, they will ask what is the source of the funds
I have a debit card, don't think credit is possible


Thanks for helping Bill!;)



I'm still trying to get the banking situation sorted out. I am moving to CR on November 1st and I'm completely unsure of what I should do about the money thing.

Should I keep my US bank account open and then open a seperate CR bank account once I arrive in CR on November 1st. Also, I have a small regional bank that I'm using in the USA. Would it be best to switch to a bigger, national bank before I leave the US? If so, does anyone have any recommendations?



I went to Scotiabank in San Hose and here is the info you need.
This is verbatim from a printout of the rules. As I walk around, I'll stop at other banks, and get info from them as well and post it. Hope this helps.

Requirements Individuals

*Complete and sign the required forrms.

*Present original current identification document: identification card for citizens, full passport for non-resident, foreigners or resident identification card for foreigners residing in the country (in the case of non-resident customers a second identification must be requested)

*Document for verifying the home address (recent utility bill in the customer's name, lease contract with the physical address of the house, municipal invoices, etc)

*Financial information: pay stub or salary statement, income certification (C.P.A), income tax returns, service contracts etc, justifying the use to which the account will be put.

*If the branch requests it, present two letters of reference (bank, personal or commercial) addressed to Scotiabank de CR.

*Sign the authorization slip for consulting information in SUGEF's Credit Information Center.

*Contracts and other documents related to the product.

Here's the phone number in case you have more questions 8001-726842

Also, you can get a mortgage from Scotiabank in Costa Rica, here's an email I received while looking for information on banking: Vacation Home Buyer's Program

The Mortgage Conditions:

Interest Rate   

• 6.20% fixed rate during the first 3 years
•A variable rate of NYPR + 6% for the remaining term(applicable floor rate: 9.50% for the remaining term)    •    $1.900.00 during the first 3 years
    $2.390.00 NYPR + 6% for the remaining term. (NYPR = 3.25% Today)
•    For a loan of $240.000.00

Front-end fee   
•    1.50%    •$3.601.00
•    Legal Cost 5% Aprox    •$12.500.00

Percentage of Financing
•70% maximum over the appraisal value or the purchase price, whichever is less.
Amortization Term    

•25 years   

Prepayment Penalty   

•2% of the balance with payments to the principal over $10,000. This penalty applies only during the fixed rate period.

Take care,

g.i. kate


What about Keeping your us account and using your ATM cards there Is that possible.



Using your an atm card seems to be hit and miss at point of purchase as the system is too slow and times out and is rejected, even at Walmart haha.. however, at bank atms there is no problem, and you have a choices of USD or Colones.

Hope this helps.

The reason I picked Scotiabank (and I`m checking out HSBC as well) is for my own piece of mind. If something does happen in CR (paranoid)like a coup or something, I want the offshore bank so that my money is safe. I`m leary of the CR banks only because if something does happen and we are evacuated, my money is safe, not in a `Costa Rican`bank. Just a thought. I highly doubt anything will happen, however better safe than sorry.

g.i. kate

lol Kate, not to be contentious, but . . . some points you may not have considered:

"a coup" does make me laugh. There is, at this very time, a coup taking place in the USA. Too clearly the clowns in Washington, ALL of them, are doing someone's bidding; and its not the voters'. Kate, many of us (expats informally) are living here to avoid the coup that is occurring in the USA, "we" do not agree with the fascist state that the USA has become.

"offshore bank so that my money is safe", again I'm forced to laugh. The bad guy here (seizing accounts and assets) is the USA. Your money is electronic digits, investigate what happened in Argentina; ALL governments are thieves (sell indebtedness to buy votes).

"`Costa Rican`bank", indeed it is true. The USA can seize your assets at any time, but this is true also in the USA. I would agree with the premise that the USA is a terrifically risky place to hold assets.

peace of mind involves ignoring certain things



If you have nothing better to do than challenge and make fun of people, I would rather you not respond to my posts. I know this is your hobby, trying to make yourself feel better by putting other people down. I've watched your posts. Maybe you should try to be helpful instead, just not to me.

bring your passport and some US cash (recommend at least $1200).
Find a great Notary ($75-$100) near your bank of choice (I use BCR).
Get the Notary to do a letter stating how much money you make a month (that will be how much you can deposit max a month) and take it to the bank. (I'm good for $1500 which is way low but so what).
typical Bank paperwork blah bla time wasted.
you have an account.
the end.

Waaaait a minute.  One of the reasons we are looking at CR, among other countries, is because we agree to some extent with Bill, that the US is out of control.  Is it true that the US can seize funds deposited in Costa Rican banks???  If it is, perhaps banking in the Cayman Islands would be better?


The US cannot seize accounts in CR. Instead, a court in the US can request a Court in Costa Rica to seize the account, and the request cannot be just because, they need to have probable cause. What this means, is that for the average folks, their accounts in Costa Rica are ok as long as they are not engaged in criminal activity.

As far as opening an account is concerned, the requirements vary from bank to bank. While there are banks that require a Costa Rican government photo ID, there are other banks that will do it with only a passport and a letter from your local bank. My suggestion is to shop around, perhaps HSBC, Scotia Bank and Citi Bank. I also recommend talking to an attorney about opening bank accounts in Costa Rica.

As runawayfromwinter posts, currently, it is not possible to open bank accounts unless you have legal residence or a legitimate business.

Been some years but the only one that didn't jerk me around was BCR.I had the lawyer notarize a paper showing me as president of my corporation, dropped my passport and some cash on the counter and was outa there in 10 minutes. Went the next morning, picked up the debit card, called Wachovia ( now Wells Fargo) and wired in 200 grand to finish my house.You need a dollars account for incoming SS checks. I also got a savings acct to keep emergency cash in.
If I need medical care it's not going to be at the incompetent morons in the Ahahah Caja(caca) and if I need an ambulance there are private ones with REAL medics and super hi tech :rolleyes: equipment like an ekg and heart monitor and paddles. The Red Cross is mostly retarded taxi drivers who like to drive since they don't have cars of their own.
Having a corporation will save you all sorts of hassles and often allow you to buy things wholesale.Pick the name wisely.

I do not suggest using a corporation unless you are planning on actually open a business. The purpose of corporations is to do businesses, not to allow illegal immigrants to open bank accounts.

If you want to open a bank account through a corporation, the bank will request letters of reference from other bank customers that will recommend you (or your corporation) as a customer. Further, you will need to provide a certified copy of the articles of incorporation and a certificate from your notary public indicating the owners of the shares of the corporation. Finally, you will be required to produce an income certificate from your CPA or a projection of sales. These are the requirements to open a bank account with Banco de Costa Rica. I know so because this is what they requested to one of my clients last week.

You need to add the expenses that are required to create and maintain a corporation. Creating a corporation will cost you about $400 only in taxes, not adding the attorney's fees. You will need to ask your attorney how much they will charge you from creating a corporation, but you can expect to find prices from $200 and up on the street. In addition, you will need to pay about $200 a year in taxes just for having the corporation.
Previously, it was a lot more easy to open bank accounts. (as Arnold Ziffle noted, he was able to do this when Wachovia existed, which was prior to the market crash of 2008. Now, things are different) Foreigners were only required to produce a passport. Recently, the government has been making it a lot more difficult for foreigners to function in Costa Rica without having an immigration status or a legitimate business.

If you need to buy real estate, you can have your bank transferring the money to the escrow agent here in Costa Rica (yes, it will be wise to use an escrow agent). You will not need open an account in order to transfer the funds to the buyer.

I am an attorney and I only suggest my clients to create a corporation only if they are doing a business. You ask any other attorney, and that attorney will be eager to sell you a corporation you do not need just to charge you the fees.

I hope this information helps.

Runawayfromwinter, I suggest you contact one of the lawyers at ARCR who will assist you as part of their Residency program to set up a bank account. Applying as a Rentista, Immigration requires you set up your $60K with a specific bank, BN. There are some private banks that you can open an account with quite easily, but not for residency purposes.

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Your pet parrot can open an account of it say Pura Vida ! repeatedly......and has 50K colones in its talons as a "commission" for the overly perfumed dirtbag at the window.. LOL

Arnold, Do you actually live here in Costa Rica? The reason I ask is, you seem to be full of very derogatory comments about Costa Rica and it's people. You might want to try and tone it down a little.
Pura Vida

gikate wrote:

The reason I picked Scotiabank (and I`m checking out HSBC as well) is for my own piece of mind. If something does happen in CR (paranoid)like a coup or something, I want the offshore bank so that my money is safe. I`m leary of the CR banks only because if something does happen and we are evacuated, my money is safe, not in a `Costa Rican`bank. Just a thought. I highly doubt anything will happen, however better safe than sorry.

g.i. kate

A coup [or something similar like a currency devaluation] is more likely to occur in the USA at this point, imho!
People are posting a lot of "Costa Rica ain't what it used to be", but the USA is now FAR FROM what it used to be. 1 in 4 or 5 children in poverty and not getting enough to eat, millions unemployed, and the powers that be trying to cut all social programs to help the less fortunate and the income is increasing for the top 5% only while for the rest of us it's decreasing in terms of buying power.

I am glad to see some have experienced success in opening a bank account without being a resident because my experience was the opposite recently.

I have a corporation and used to have a bank account there but BCR froze my account due to paper work I could not sign because I was up here in the USA and couldn't get down to sign them. Had I known it would be so hard to open a new account I'd have made more of an effort to get down there and sign the papers.

That was a few years ago. Anyway, I was down this year and tried to re-open my account and was told it was not possible if you're not a resident. I went to 3 different branches of BCR just to make sure and they all told me I had to be a resident to open one.

Additionally 3 attorneys told me the same thing.

If you are applying for residency I think you can open one but you'll of course need to jump through the hoops required (read: mucho paper work and bureaucracy) to do so.

I HOPE it's true I can open an account without yet applying for residency, and I will try some of these banks mentioned above next time I go down and report back to this thread.

ScotiaBank or HSBC in Costa Rica has nothing to do with the same named institutions in your home country, so new comers, do not choose a bank in Costa Rica based on this.

i was in prison for 6 years here , i went to banco national and bcr and BAC all 3 refused to open an account

i had a brother in usa send me 8800 dollars to buy a car to drive uber and to operate in my colon , teledolar refused to cash out the transfer and did ask for many documents which i gave them , yet refused to cash out the transfer

then i went to banc pro america and scotia bank , they told me i need my id , i need contracts of houses in panamaa rent , and i need CPA to do me a document with the origin of funds , when i was in jail i a girl used to pick up those teledolar transfers , CPA could not help me , and without his help no bank can look at me

and yes i am tico with cedula de cr