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How to Open a Bank Account in Costa Rica?

An Informative Handbook for Foreigners on the Requirements to Open a Bank Account.

Costa Rica is a popular destination for expats because of its beautiful beaches, friendly locals, and laid-back lifestyle. If you're planning to stay in Costa Rica for an extended period, having a local bank account can be useful for paying for local services and goods, and for receiving your salary from your employer. However, opening a bank account in Costa Rica can be tricky, with various restrictions and conditions that you need to meet. In this article, we'll guide you through the process of opening a bank account in Costa Rica.

Do You Need to Be in Costa Rica to Open a Bank Account?

You must be in Costa Rica to open a bank account because of the amount of paperwork and documentation involved. Most private banks require you to have lived in the country for a specific amount of time before you can open an account. On the other hand, Banco de Costa Rica allows non-resident foreigners to open an account, but there are several restrictions in place. You'll need to provide identification and a mobile phone number to open a non-resident account with Banco de Costa Rica. This can be done online, 24/7, and you'll receive your account number by email and/or text message.

What Documents Do You Need to Open a Bank Account?

The documents you need to open a bank account depend on whether you're opening an account as a resident or a tourist. Requirements vary among banks, but most require identification, a minimum deposit, proof of address, and proof of income. To open an account at Banco de Costa Rica as a non-resident, you only need identification and a mobile phone number. However, the maximum monthly deposit is $1,000 for this type of account. The government takes money laundering seriously in Costa Rica, so they'll check the sources of funds used by account holders to ensure that they come from legitimate sources.

Which banks in Costa Rica are Appropriate for Expats?

There are several private and state-owned banks to choose from when opening a bank account in Costa Rica. Government-owned banks have a large presence across the country but are known for their long queue times. They are generally very safe and have little to no risk of disingenuous fees. Private banks provide better customer service, but their ATMs can be harder to find, leading to additional charges when withdrawing money from a different bank's ATM. Some popular banks for expats include Banco BAC San Jose, Banco BCT, and Banco Davivienda.


It's always best to compare several banks and get advice from other expats before deciding which bank to use. Look for reviews on monthly account charges, withdrawal fees, and interest rates for investing or borrowing. Make an appointment to visit the bank in advance, and it's recommended that you don't visit banks on payday because of the long queues.

Opening a bank account in Costa Rica is essential if you plan to live in the country long-term. While the process can be tricky, having a local bank account can make your life easier by eliminating costly exchange rates and fees. Be sure to choose a bank that meets your needs and fits your budget.

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