What visa do I need to teach English in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica has much to offer those who choose to teach ESL in this part of Central America. A tropical climate, picturesque beaches, exotic wildlife and pristine rainforest are just some of its many attractions. But what visa do you need to live and work in the country?

What visa do I need to teach English in Costa Rica?

Unlike many other popular teaching destinations, it is technically legal for foreign teachers to work in Costa Rica on a standard tourist visa. Most nationalities, including Americans, Canadians and Western European citizens, are given a 90 day visa on arrival at the airport. Once the visa expires you can simply cross into a neighboring country and then get a new one on your way back into the country.

What should I do on arrival in Costa Rica?

When you first arrive in Costa Rica you are not legally allowed to work until you have registered for a tax number from within the country. If you are asked any questions at the airport you should avoid mentioning your intention to work to avoid any unnecessary problems. As long as you appear to be a normal tourist, you should have no issues getting a visa and starting your new teaching adventure.

How do I get a tax number for teaching English in Costa Rica?

To get your tax number you need to register at the local government tax office known as the Tributacion. The only documents you require are a copy of your passport and the address of where you are staying. The good news is you do not have to have a job before applying. Once your tax number is provided, you will need to print off a book of receipts which you give to the employer whenever you receive a wage payment. The current tax threshold stands at $8,000 per year so you are unlikely to pay much or any tax at all. If you do find you earn above the threshold, many employers are happy to find ways to help you avoid a tax bill of any great size.

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