Expand Business in Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Global Upside helps businesses expand into Costa Rica by providing talent acquisition, human resources, accounting, payroll, tax, incorporation, and professional employer organization (PEO)/employer of record (EOR) services. Our comprehensive offerings create an end-to-end solution that helps you establish your business and optimize your operations, all while maintaining compliance with Costa Rican laws and regulations.

The hiring and incorporation processes in Costa Rica are often complex, time-consuming, and involve numerous legal and compliance challenges. Global Upside simplifies these processes and lifts the compliance burden from your business. Our teams have the experience and expertise required to help you establish a legal entity in Costa Rica. We also offer PEO/EOR solutions to companies interested in hiring employees quickly, without setting up a legal entity in the country.

Capital City

San José

Currency

Costa Rican Colon (₡)

Language

Spanish

Government

Democratic Republic

Country Overview

Situated in Central America, between the Atlantic and the Pacific, Costa Rica’s economy is based on the export of electronic equipment and services, agriculture, and tourism. Many important crops account for nearly half the total value of all exports.

  • Costa Rica mainly exports bananas, coffee, and beef.
  • The nation’s imports include transmission apparatus for Radiotelephony, motor vehicles, automatic data processing machines, medicament, and petroleum oil.
  • The prices for convenience goods are approximately 24.30% lower than the EU.

Options for setting up a legal entity in Costa Rica include:

Limited Liability Company

A limited liability company, also known as Sociedad de Responsabilidad Limitada (SRL), is the most common form of a legal entity set up in Costa Rica. It requires at least two investors and the liability is limited to their contributions. An SRL cannot sell its shares in the stock market.

Corporation

A corporation, also called Sociedad Anonima (SA) requires at least two investors, investors and the liability is limited to their shared contributions.

Branch

A branch, also known as Sucursal, can be set up by foreign companies that are open to start a business in Costa Rica. A branch must be appointed with a general power of attorney for all the business activities.

Representative Office

A representative office, also called Oficina de Representacion, is a form of an entity set up that cannot engage in any activities which involve commercial activities and income generation. It can only engage in market research and advertising the business of the parent company.

It takes a minimum of four to six weeks to establish a legal entity set up in Costa Rica.

Most employment contracts must be in writing with copies provided to the employee and the Employment Bureau of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.

Verbal contracts are permitted for agricultural or livestock work, domestic service, and temporary work for not more than 90 days.

The written employment contract must include:

  • Names, address, nationality, age, gender, and marital status of both parties
  • Employee’s identity card number
  • Contract duration or a statement that the contract is for an indefinite period
  • Working hours
  • Remuneration, method of calculation, and time and place of payment
  • Place of employment
  • Date and place of the contract
  • Signature of both the parties

Costa Rica observes the following nine public holidays:

  • Jan. 1: New Year’s Day
  • April 11: Juan Santamaria Day
  • Maundy Thursday
  • Good Friday
  • May 1: Labor Day
  • July 25: Anexion del Partido de Nicoya
  • Aug. 15: Mother’s Day and Assumption
  • Sept. 15: Independence Day
  • Dec. 25: Christmas

Additionally, August 2 Day of Our Lady of the Angels, and October 12 Cultural Day are holidays for which payment is not mandatory.

The payroll frequency, in Costa Rica, is monthly.

There is a 13th salary, known as Aguinaldo, that is equivalent to a month’s wage and must be paid by the 20th of December.

The Costa Rican Public Accountant Association has implemented the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) for the preparation of financial reports, standards for attestation works, and other services and statements.

Corporate Tax

The corporate tax rate in Costa Rica is 30%.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

The VAT in Costa Rica is known as Impuesto al Valor Agregado (IVA) and is 13%.

There are reduced rates of 0%, 5%, and 10%.

Employers may transfer personal information if the employee provides prior, express, and valid written consent to the employer.

Transferring public information (which has general access) does not need authorization from the employee.

Anti-Bribery & Anti-Corruption Law

Costa Rica’s law enacted Legislative Decree 96991, called the “New Law”, which regulates corporate criminal liability for corruption felonies that include both domestic and foreign bribery.

Large size firms face fines of up to 10,000 times the legal base salary, or presently about $7.5 million, per crime, while small to medium-sized companies are liable to a lower range of fines.

Other fines include withdrawing firms from government benefits such as tax incentives or subsidies, removing the operating licenses, and even dissolving a company completely.