Renewing Permanent Residency in Costa Rica

Those who have gone through the residency process in Costa Rica and received their DIMEX card (known locally as a cedula) know what a process it is. Once you hold that little piece of plastic in your hand, it is such a relief. Unfortunately, these cards are only valid for a certain amount of time and need to be renewed. In this post, we will go through the process of renewing permanent residency in Costa Rica. While this applies to those holding permanent residency, others who have temporary residency or other types may find some useful tips as well.

Renewing Permanent Residency in Costa Rica

The Renewal Process 

After navigating the lengthy residency process, you might be surprised to learn that your brand-new Costa Rica DIMEX card is only valid for a couple of years.

We applied for permanent residency through the birth of our first child and received DIMEX cards (cedulas) that were valid for two years. When we renewed those, we were given another two years.

Now, on our second renewal, we have been given cards that are valid for three years.

Fortunately, the process of renewing is a lot less complicated than your original residency application. You’ll only be asked to provide a few documents as well as your old card. We’ll get into the details below.

When to Renew?

You can begin the process of renewing your DIMEX up to three months before it expires. However, if you are like most people (including us), you have waited until much closer to the expiration date.

Don’t wait too long, though. Without a valid DIMEX card, it can be difficult to do many things.

You won’t be able to open any new accounts (e.g., cell phone plans, contracts), and banks and other institutions likely will not let you present your cedula as a form of identification to make transfers or apply for services.

And don’t forget that without a valid card, you’ll have to pay those higher non-resident prices at places like national parks. They sure are strict about that!

If you have missed the deadline, you can still renew a permanent residency card up to three months after it expires. However, after three months, you need to have a lawyer write a letter giving a valid explanation of why you are more than three months’ overdue.

For temporary residents, if you are three months’ overdue, you need to renew through Migracion.

Where Can You Renew?   

There are a few options for people who need to renew their DIMEX cards.

You can either make an appointment at Correos de Costa Rica (the country’s post office) or Banco de Costa Rica (BCR, a bank).

Not all branches offer the service; however, there should be one within a reasonable drive from where you live.

Additionally, those who are over the age of 65 can go directly to Migracion in La Uruca, San Jose to renew and receive a new card the same day. According to a local law firm, this service is available only on Thursdays and Fridays and no appointment is needed.

BCR Bank in Jaco Costa Rica
BCR in Jaco

Renewing Your DIMEX/Permanent Residency at BCR Bank  

We chose to renew our cedulas at the BCR on both occasions. Mostly because the post offices near us are small and always very crowded and hectic. BCR seemed more organized and efficient.

Making an Appointment

Calling the Hotline

To make a DIMEX renewal appointment at BCR, you will need to call them at 800-BCRCITA (227-2482). This is a toll-free call that can be made using a post-paid or prepaid phone.

Most of the times we have called, the operator has only spoken Spanish. However, we did once have an English-speaking representative.

Before calling, we would recommend visiting the BCR website to get familiar with the process. Under the section Personas, you can find another section called Punto Pais. This is a list of all the personal services offered at the bank like paying your Marchamo, getting a passport, etc.

From here, click on Cita para Cédula de Residencia. On this residency appointment page, you’ll find a brief description of the process.

When you call, you’ll be asked for your name, email, DIMEX/cedula number, the date it expires, and what bank branch you would like to make an appointment at. The list of available BCR branches is here.

What You’ll Need to Bring

The representative also will explain what you need to bring. The list has been the same both times we have renewed.

  • Original DIMEX card that is going to expire
  • Proof of most recent payment in the CCSS system (Caja) – see below
  • A signed letter declaring who you are and the full names of both of your parents

Before you end your call with the BCR representative, you’ll be given date and time options for the appointment. We have usually gotten an appointment within a week.

You’ll also receive a confirmation number for the appointment. A confirmation should be emailed to you as well. This last time we renewed, one of us did not receive the email confirmation, but when we called back later to make sure everything was all set, they verified our appointment in the system.

Proof of Caja

IMPORTANT: For proof of Caja payment, you’ll have to show up in the Validacion de Derechos system as active and covered. The BCR rep will check this during your appointment.

For those who are insured under their spouse, there is often a problem proving coverage. This is because you need to renew the dependent status at your local CCSS office every couple of years. Sometimes this association lapses between renewals and you will have to visit CCSS (sometimes more than once) to straighten it out. This is all another good reason to start renewing early!

If you are married and under your spouse’s account, you will probably need to show the CCSS an apostilled marriage certificate to prove you are still married. Some people have gotten married in Costa Rica to avoid the hassle of having to get a new apostilled marriage certificate every couple of years.

Website to check CCSS status
CCSS website where you can check to make sure your Caja is current in the system

DIMEX Renewal Appointment

On the day of your renewal appointment, make sure to show up to the bank a little early. Also, let the security guard at the door know that you have an appointment before getting in line. Often, they have a separate line for people who are scheduled for services.

In the bank, there will be a separate office/line for the BCR representative who processes residency renewals.

When it is your turn, the BCR rep will collect your required documents, make some copies, and have you fill out a short form (address, date of birth, etc.). You’ll then need to pay the associated fees for the renewal and have your picture taken.

With all of this done, you’ll get a piece of paper called a Comprobante de Solicitud, Tramite de documento de extranjeros DIMEX (Proof of Application of Processing Foreigners’ DIMEX). This will have all your information, like your expediente number, cedula number, immigration category, and date of birth. It also will have the date that the new card will be available for pick up at the post office (usually a month after your appointment date).

If you are going around with an expired DIMEX card, it would be a good idea to keep a copy of this voucher with you until you get your new card. You can then show it to an official if needed and explain that you have renewed and are still waiting for the new card.

Cost of Renewal

The fees you need to pay include a renewal solicitation fee (Migration’s fee, around $125), shipping to have the new card delivered to your nearest Correos de Costa Rica (about $7), and the bank’s commission (around $8).

Overall, the total amount we paid was a little less than $150 each.

It’s important to know that you cannot pay by credit card. You must either take the money out of your BCR account or pay it in cash.

Picking Up Your New DIMEX Card  

The BCR website says that it will deliver the card within 22 business days. However, we have heard of long delays of two months or more when waiting for the new DIMEX card to arrive.

Fortunately, this was not the case for us (in October 2021). We checked at the post office for our card exactly at the one-month point (22 business days) and it had arrived a few days before.

When picking up the card, you’ll need to show your application voucher (comprobante de solicitud) and old cedula.

This time, the postal worker also opened the package and showed us that the card was in good condition before having us sign for it.

There is no charge at the post office since you already paid for the shipping at the renewal appointment.   

A new DIMEX card

Renewing Your DIMEX at Correos de Costa Rica

We do not have experience renewing at the post office in Costa Rica; however, it looks like many of the requirements and process are the same.

For those interested in pursuing this method, you can visit the Correo’s page for residency renewal.

The required documents for each residency category are listed on this sheet. It also gives the fees associated with renewal. You will have to deposit some of the fees into a specific BCR account before your appointment.

If you have experience with renewal at the postal offices in Costa Rica, feel free to leave a comment below to help others navigate the process.

Conclusion

Renewing permanent residency in Costa Rica may seem like a daunting task, but if you start early and know the process, it should be fairly simple. Once you receive that new plastic card with your picture on it, you can breathe easy for a couple of more years before you have to worry about it again. We hope this post has helped you get prepared and best of luck with your renewal!

Have a question or want to share your DIMEX renewal experience? Leave a comment below.

Looking for more information to help you navigate life in Costa Rica? Check out these articles:

Starting a Business in Costa Rica as an Expat – Thinking of the next big business idea for Costa Rica? Check out this article for some insights into what’s involved and what to plan for.

Buying a House in Costa Rica – Ready to buy in Costa Rica? We went through this process ourselves and share our experience.  

Having a Baby at Hospital CIMA – Our experience giving birth at one of San Jose’s best private hospitals. 

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52 Comments

  1. Thank you for the info. Just to verify…we have renewed our temporary cedulas once, and now want to renew for the 2nd time for permanent residency. Is this the process we follow

  2. Hi, My residency is coming due soon and I was wanting to know if the bank (BCR) required you to prove that the income on your original approval is the same or if it has changed? Are you required to inform the DIMEX renewal representative that your original income has changed up or down? Or do they not even ask? I do know that they will require proof of all payments to CAJA but I was not sure about updating your address or income “officially” during the Renewal meeting @ BCR. We all know the government is trying to suck every penny out of us every chance they get, and I would like to keep my original address and income unchanged from my initial application. Last question, has immigration ever done an unannounced spot home address check / verification in your experience? My attorney said they could in theory do that at any time, but if they did, and you don’t live there anymore, the attorney said to tell them you move around from time to time. Who knows. Thanks for any info. Have a blessed day.

    1. Hi Kerry, At BCR, they will only check that your CCSS is active in the system. They do not ask for your income or address. I think you are supposed to update those things through the CCSS directly.

      We have never heard of them doing a home inspection for anyone. But anything is possible.

    2. Hello! Thanks for the helpful information above! I had a few questions:
      1) When you renew your DIMEX or apply for permanent once you have satisfied your temporary residency timeframe do they ever change your DIMEX number or does that stay with you all the way through temp, perm and citizenship?
      2) how often do you go to EBAIS to show your DIMEX to keep your dependents linked?
      3) can you apply for citizenship after 5 years even if you have been temporary residents the entire time or is it required to become permanent residents for 2 years before you apply for citizenship?
      4) you stated “those who are over the age of 65 can go directly to Migracion in La Uruca, San Jose to renew and receive a new card the same day” but is this if both the primary and dependent spouse is 65 or older or do they take the age of the oldest or youngest?

      Thank you so much!
      Kellie

  3. so thinking of doing the same thing you guys did, but this CAJA thing just rubs me the wrong way. Also just reading your article having to renew your PR card every 2-3 years, thats a huge hassle and definitely not a “benefit” of being permanent. other countries, my PR card is valid for LIFE. now I can understand 5-10 years and having to renew, but 2-3. come on. anyways i really like your page. great info

    1. Hi RC, Yeah, it’s a hassle having to renew permanent residency so often but it’s still easier than going to the border every 90 days. You can eventually apply for citizenship after a certain number of years of being a PR. I think we’ll be eligible soon. Good luck with your plans.

      1. Do you know if there is any reduction in time for citizenship based on having a Costa Rican child? I believe it is reduced to 3 years if you are married to a Costa Rican right? Wondering if it would be similar if you have a child? Otherwise it seems to be a 7 year wait right?

        Thanks,

        1. I don’t think there’s a reduction for having a child who is Costa Rican. We got our residency through the birth of our son and haven’t heard anyone talk about that before. I think it’s whatever the standard wait time is.

  4. Are you able to have the DIMEX shipped to a consulate outside the country for pickup? I know this service is provided for national cedulas but not sure about DIMEX. I live most of the year outside Costa Rica so only having to stop by for a few days for the renewal appointment would be easier than having to wait a month in the country to pick it up as well.

  5. Hello, I am thinking of staying for 6 months and was wondering if you have the requirements for this stay explained in one of your blogs. It may turn into longer than 6 months if I don’t get too homesick.

    1. Standard entry visa requires you exit country within 90 days; you can then return and get another 90 days. Simple to do at Nicaragua border, and takes an hour (longer at Panama border). At each entry, you must show proof of exit (e.g., airline ticket) within 90 days. Don’t overstay!

    2. Hi Mark, If you stay longer than 90 days, you need to either apply for legal residency or leave the country to renew your tourist visa. Tourist visas are normally given for 90 days, so after that 90 days, you can go to any other country to get a new visa stamp.

      Countries have different requirements. Right now, it is hard to go to Panama by land to renew. It’s much easier to go to Nicaragua. Or many foreigners who live here without residency fly to another country in Central America like Mexico, or you could go to the US or Canada. Here’s a link to one of our posts with more information: https://www.twoweeksincostarica.com/faqs-moving-to-costa-rica/

  6. Hello,
    My permanent cedula expired in April ,2022. When I tried to renew it I was told that CR was behind with their renewal process because of Covid.
    I was told my renewal process would be delayed until September. Because my cedula expiration, I was required to purchase a return ticket to USA.
    How can I expiate my renewal?? It makes travel more stressful then it already is. CR a is my home and has been for 10 years.
    I need some help!
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Linda, We heard that about residency renewals being delayed. We’re not sure if anything can be done to expedite it. You could ask a lawyer if they have any ideas, but we would probably just wait until September at this point, knowing how long things can take here. Good luck!

  7. Thank you for sharing your informative renewal experience. I have an expiring (October 2022) pensionado temporary Dimex. I will need to provide an apostilled pension income letter, which is not Social Security. Would you happen to know how long that an apostilled income letter would be valid for? 3 months? Or 6 months? And is that from the date the letter was created? Or from the date of the apostille?

    1. Hi Dave, Not sure if you have seen it, but this is the link to Migration’s website with the requirements for renewing pensionado residency. It doesn’t specify how old the letter can be. For residency applications, it’s usually 6 months and you count it from the date of the letter (not apostille). Hope that helps. If you can get it in within 3 months, that would be best of course.

    2. Hi Dave, when you are a pensiondo and you are from the US you can get from the US Embassy a letter about your regluar SSC pension in spanish . I only needed an apostille the first time when I applied . After that I only got the letter from the Embassy.
      Check out

      FBU.costarica@ssa.gov

      Fill out first Form to get Verification Letter online and send

      it’s very easy. If you are from another County where your Pansion comes from you can email your country and ask for a letter you then can translate into Spanish by an certified Translater. Papers can’t be older than 3 month.

    3. Update:

      Well, I finally received my Dimex, but it did not come without encountering some complications.
      To summarize my Dimex renewal process for pensionado status: My Dimex expired in October of 2022. I received my BCR renewal appointment at the end of January 2023. Everything seemed to go well during the appointment and I was told to just check with my local Correros in about a month for my new digital Dimex card.

      So I began checking with my local Correros weekly at the end of February and into March. The Correros representative would check the computer system and let me know if the new card had arrived. Around the middle or end of March, he explained that Immigration had resolved some general problems and that my Dimex should be received soon.

      The end of March came and still no Dimex card at the Correros, so I asked the representative if there were any problems with my Dimex renewal, and this time he searched his computer a second time. I assume that he went to a different site or system and then informed me that there was in fact a problem and I would need to go to the Immigration office in Uruca to fill out some type of form in order to receive my Dimex.

      So I drove directly to the Immigration office from the Correros to see what the problem was and find out what was needed. After arriving at immigration I was directed to an area with many seats that were full of people waiting so I went to the right of that area where some teller-type glass windows were located and asked a representative behind the glass window what I needed to do to get my Dimex, I showed him my renewal paper document and then he directed me to another office. In that office, a representative informed me that I needed to return to the waiting area with all of the occupied seats.

      So, I asked him before going to the waiting area what is the problem with my Dimex renewal. and he responded that I paid too much at the BCR appointment.
      Keep in mind that the BCR representative was the one who calculated all of the expenses involved with the process and collected the money.

      So I asked the immigration representative how much was overpaid. The representative then asked for my payment receipts from the BCR appointment which obviously I did not have because I went directly from the Correros to Immigration and this was not mentioned by the Correros representative. Also, immigration asked for my passport which I haven’t carried with me since I became a temporary resident with the exception of travel outside of CR.

      I began thinking here we go again with some more CR red tape. The puzzling part was that they had stopped the issuance of my Dimex card because Immigration OWED ME MONEY, instead of me having a debt with Immigration.
      So, I explained this to the Immigration representative who gave a facial expression as if he agreed with my frustration.
      Next, I posed another question, which was what happens if I cannot find the receipts from BCR?
      That seemed to create a whole other dilemma that he could not answer. He left me seated next to his desk as he met with others to see how that situation was handled. He returned with another immigration rep who was fluent in English to explain the entire situation. It turns out that the BCR rep collected CRC equivalent of $20 USD more than he should have and that was the entirety of the problem.
      I asked if we could resolve this problem without me having to return with the receipts and I was told that I could have that $20 credit applied to my next temporary residency renewal so I quickly replied yes.
      I was to the point of just saying forget about the $20 if I don’t have to return here and go through the rest of the refund/correction process. The Immigration rep typed my letter in Spanish requesting the credit which I signed. I was told that I could expect my new Dimex at my local Correros in seven days, but it actually arrived earlier.

      So lessons learned here are to make sure that the right amount of money is collected for the process, keep your receipts, make sure that Correors is checking all available databases to see if there is a problem other than normal processing/ delivery delays, and if you are still required to go to Immigration bring receipts and your passport with you.

      Hope this helps others if you encounter a similar situation.
      Pura Vida!

  8. I am still unsure about the CAJA being up to date. Do I need to bring a paper copy of my caja payments or do they check online for me when renewing my DIMEX?

  9. My husband and I have been calling and calling for days.It’s constantly busy or we must listen to a recording, Meanwhile, no one ever ever pickup …..So aggravating
    800 227 2482
    He had to renew in august.However,we were told to call the 1st of October.
    My husband is 86 young.This is quite stressful for him.

    1. Hi Nathalie, Hope you have gotten through to make an appointment by now. We have heard that this has been happening for a lot of people since everyone is trying to make appointments now that Migration is accepting renewals again.

  10. Thanks for all the clear details. The 800 number provided (800- 227-2482) for calling BCR is not working for me. I am using my Kolbi Costa Rican phone. Is there a prefix to use when dialing a Costa Rican 800 number. I had a friend try and they encountered the same problem Thanks!!

    1. Hi Jeff, The number has worked for us in the past, but we just tried it and it wasn’t working for us either. It could have to do with how appointments are really backed up since Migration just started doing renewals again. Not sure.

      You could try sending BCR a message to see if there is a different number now on Facebook (it says they are very responsive to messages) or by WhatsApp (2211-1135). Good luck!

      1. Thanks for your response. I was finally able to get through on Saturday morning using the 800 number and got an appointment for February. I think you may be right…maybe their phone lines are overwhelmed right now.

        Really appreciate your help!!

  11. Hola Jenn & Matt,

    Question about this: “A signed letter declaring who you are and the full names of both of your parents.” Does this letter have to be notarized? I know enough to write it in Spanish.
    This is new to me and I have had my residency for 18 years!

    Thanks for your help,
    Rick

  12. I have read on other sites that they will ask for your passport. I assume that this is to verify the amount of time that you have been in the country ( or remained outside). If this is the case will they need a translated copy of the passport? This is for Temp Residency Dimex renewal.

      1. I had my Pensionado temp residency appointment on January 21st and they did ask for my passport but I did not ask for what reason. Everything went well according to the BCR rep who assisted me. He sent all the information to immigration and now I am awaiting the arrival of my new digital dimex at the local Correros.
        They gave me a temporary paper along with my expired dimex to present if needed during this waiting period. Thank you for your help.

        1. My husband is pensionado and I am his dependent. We don’t understand the US Embassy letter part – is this required of everyone or only for people collecting Social Security? I ask because we don’t have SS yet, only my husband’s private pension from his labor union.

  13. I want to thank you for having such a great blog. I have been looking for the way to “validate los derechos” for years! And I found it right here on this page. I wish I had it sooner when my builder was charging me for caja for all the workers and I’m sure he was not paying it. But, at least now, I know when I go for our renewal appointment, we are all covered. 🙂 It is so useful , thank you and pura vida

  14. Hi Jenn and Matt,

    This is a great free platform you operate, and really appreciated and useful for me. I went through the process for almost two years, starting in England, living in CR for a year, and now I am due to pick my DIMEX card up on March 13th, 2023. My questions are as follows: a) when does it change from a Temporary Permanent Resident to a Permanent Resident card?; b) how long must I be in CR in a typical year to keep my card valid, as I intend to travel around the Latin American continent?; and finally, c) if I’m travelling, without a permanent domicile address, does this matter? Thank you guys. Best regards, Paul

    1. Hi Paul, Glad our information has been helpful!

      We’ll start with a disclaimer that we are not lawyers in Costa Rica and don’t know the answers to all your questions but will do the best we can. As far as we know, you can apply for permanency residency after having temporary residency for at least 3 years. This is a separate process. We’re not sure how long you need to be in CR to keep your residency valid. Many people are gone for 6 months or more out of the year, though. We don’t think it matters if you don’t have a permanent address.

      1. Many thanks for your answers guys, and for the article, so very helpful. I am so excited that I can’t even sleep at the moment, regarding picking up my DIMEX card on March 13th, certainly considered as one of the greatest achievements in my life, especially as I get to live in the most beautiful country on the planet! Have a super weekend!

    2. Yes, the Embassy can help those collecting Social Security obtain the proof of income document. Since my pension is not from Social Security I had to obtain the document and then have it apostilled. Hope this helps!

  15. thanks for the info, good info. I hope BCR has not changed the rules lately. I have a permanent cedula (libre condicion),, and it expires July 26/2023. I was told by ARCR that my permanent renewal will not require pension proof and all that nightmarish stuff. I hope that is correct. I live in Santiago de Puriscal, and the BCR here now renews cedulas. If someone can verify this, please do, thanks

  16. FYI. My husband just called the BCR in Quepos and was told that migration is no longer allowing them to do renewals for dimex. Strange. I just did mine there last month.

      1. Thanks so much for following up! Looks like they resolved whatever the issue was. He was able to schedule an appointment today for May 11 in Quepos.

  17. My temporary residency expires July 5. I’ve been in CR this time around from Nov 2022- April 30 when I revisit the US. On April 12 I go to Fortuna BCR to renew my residency. It is unlikely I’d be here to get new DIMEX from Correos Fortuna. I understand DIMEX then returned to San Jose. Questions: By what date must I return to CR to go to migration in Uracu San Jose on a Thursday or Friday to renew on time? Will I need to prove that I have been in CR six months in 2023 at that time? It seems I must fly back to renew by Oct 1? but it is better for me to fly back in Nov. Concerned I have to fly back by Oct. first?

    1. Hi Michele, We’re not sure how long you have to claim your DIMEX once it has been issued. It may be best to hire a lawyer and give them power of attorney so that they can pick it up for you when you’re in the US.

  18. I have renewed my temporary residency card and was told I can track it with my expediente#. However, I was not given a website to do this…
    Where do I track my new dimex card?
    Thanks

  19. So do I need to bring a physical proof of CCSS payments to the bank with me, or is it enough to just show up in the system as paid up when they look? Thank you!

  20. I just submitted my permanent residence renewal application at our regional immigration office, which was in Ciudad Quesada. Because I am over 65, no appointment was necessary as long as I showed up between 8 and 9am. I then had to take the comprabante to the post office, pay an additional 4,000colones, and was told the cedula would be available in 15 days. This was a much better option than going to Uruca, Prior to this I had looked at making an appointment at BCR, and the earliest available was late March. The earliest Correos appointment was mid April. While I can’t say for sure, I think it is reasonable to assume this service is available at any regional Immigration office. I did need a physical receipt showing my latest Caja payment, and physical proof of my $123 payment to the immigration BCR account . The only other thing I needed was my old Cedula and my passport. No photocopies were required, or a letter with my parents name. Very quick and easy process.

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