Guide to Setting Up a Bank Account in Costa Rica - Expat Community

Guide to Setting Up a Bank Account in Costa Rica

Aug 21, 2023 | Costa Rica, Knowledge Base | 0 comments

Advantages of a Local Costa Rican Bank Account 

If you’re planning to move to Costa Rica, consider opening a local bank account. It makes bill payments, and person-to-person transactions simpler and more affordable than enduring international transaction fees on cards.

The Process of Opening an Account 

Costa Rica’s bank account setup process requires time and several official documents. The entire procedure could stretch from a few days to a couple of weeks, with another week possibly required for card issuance. A visit to the bank is essential to collect the cards.

Three main paths exist to open an account in Costa Rica:

  1. As a legal resident.
  2. As a non-resident foreigner.
  3. For a corporate entity.

Necessary Documentation 

Whatever your choice, you will typically need:

  • Your passport and a photocopy.
  • Residency proof, such as utility bills or lease.
  • A declaration of the account’s funding source and expected income/deposits. ● Potentially, reference letters from an existing bank.
  • U.S. citizens will need the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act form. ● Most banks require a ‘Know Your Customer’ form

For those without residency, some restrictions may apply, like limits on transactions or the inability to use wire transfers. Always research each bank’s policies.

Opening a Corporate Bank Account 

If you’re looking to start a business in Costa Rica, a corporate account is advisable. Though you’ll need to be present at the bank, an attorney (likely the one who assisted with your company formation) can help manage the bulk of the paperwork.

Additional documents for corporate accounts include:

  • Certificate of Good Standing.
  • Share Ownership Certificate.
  • Articles of incorporation.
  • Utility bill of the business location.
  • Income statement or projections for new enterprises.
  • U.S. business owners need the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act form.

Choosing the Appropriate Costa Rican Bank 

There are two primary categories of banks in Costa Rica: government and private. While government banks guarantee deposits, private ones don’t.

Government banks include:

  • Banco de Costa Rica
  • Banco Nacional de Costa Rica
  • Banco Popular

Private banks in Costa Rica:

  • Banco BAC San José S.A.
  • Banco BCT S.A.
  • Banco Cathay de Costa Rica S.A.
  • Banco Davivienda (Costa Rica) S.A.
  • Banco General (Costa Rica) S.A.
  • Banco Improsa S.A.
  • Banco Lafise S.A.
  • Banco Promérica de Costa Rica S.A.
  • Prival Bank (Costa Rica) S.A.
  • Scotiabank de Costa Rica S.A.

While some suggest private banks may offer better customer service, if safety of your deposit is paramount, consider government-backed banks.

Online Banking: Safety and Availability 

Online banking in Costa Rica is now sophisticated and user-friendly. It’s especially useful for payments like rent or school fees. The system is reliable, featuring advanced security often surpassing what many expatriates might be accustomed to.

Recommendations for a Hassle-Free Account Opening 

Though it might appear daunting, the process is navigable with the right approach. Essential steps include:

  1. Checking banks’ official websites for up-to-date requirements.
  2. Bringing all necessary documentation during bank visits.
  3. Engaging an attorney for corporate account setups, as they can advise on the latest regulations.

By being diligent and well-prepared, you can seamlessly establish your bank account in Costa Rica.

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