The World Bank recently ranked Costa Rica 102 out of 189 countries on the ease of starting a business, while that is an improvement of almost 30 places in the past few years you will need patients and good legal representation.
The most common types of businesses in Costa Rica are providing retails goods or services to locals in Costa Rica. Business Process Outsourcing and Software Development firms are the second most common type of business started and third is working at home on the Internet and other types of ventures that allow one to operate from a home a base.
To establish a business in Costa Rica you need to first decide on sole proprietorship or corporate entity. Corporate entities are the most common since any liabilities of the corporation are limited to the capital contribution of the shareholders.
Once your corporation is set up and ready to go you need to start the process to legally operate the business and with a Business Operational License called a “Patente Comercial”. You obtain this through the local Municipal Government where your business will operate.
Municipal Government will usually require submitting a zoning request certification (Certificado de Uso de Suelo) to ensure that type of business is allowed locally. After that you will need to a Business License Application Form (Solicitud de Patente Comercial) which will describe the nature and details of the business.
The application must be accompanied by:
• Certified copy of the identification document of the applicant. If a corporation a Certificate of Standing and certified copy of the identification of the legal representative.
• Zoning Certificate
• Property Survey Map (plano catastrado)
• Certified copy of the Commercial Lease.
• Proof of an existing Workman’s Compensation (Poliza de Riesgos del Trabajo) issued by the National Insurance Institute
Depending on the type of Business you may also have to provide:
(1) Employees Registration with the Social Security Administration (Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social)
(2) Authorization from the Department of Public Health for food and hygiene related business.
(3) You may have to register with the Costa Rica Tax Department (Tributación Directa) and show proof to the Municipal Government.
There may be additional requirements to comply with. As you can see with all this above the most important and point is to secure legal representation. There are many attorneys in Costa Rica, it is recommended to find a Costa Rica lawyer that has a long and established reputation.
Well established and experienced legal representation can save you months of leg works and ensure that any issues during and after the set up is handled efficiently and in a timely fashion.
The Costa Rica News (TCRN)
San Jose Costa Rica