Updated 3 years ago

An internship in Costa Rica will not only be an asset on your resume but also an exciting adventure in the land of “Pura Vida”. Find out, in this article, how to proceed.

Located in Latin America, Costa Rica is a democratic Republic. Stretching over 51,100 km², it is surrounded by Nicaragua on one side and Panama on the other. The country enjoys a political stability and an extraordinary economic dynamism. This is why, over the years, many foreigners, including a large number of US expats, have settled in the land of “Pura Vida” whose motto is “¡Vivan siempre el trabajo y la paz!” which means “Long life to work and peace!”

So if you are looking for internship opportunities in Costa Rica, you should also be aware of its economic and social situation. Overall, performing an internship in the country should be a fruitful experience.

Social and economic portrait

Costa Rica is a modern Latin American country, governed by a Republic that was founded in the 19th century. Like Switzerland, the country has chosen to remain neutral by abolishing its army forces more than a century ago.

Formerly specializing in coffee production, its economy has diversified to become a flagship in terms of technology development. Besides an economic dynamism, Costa Rica has also introduced many incentives in order to attract foreign investors wishing to set up a business and settle there.

Despite modernization, Costa Rica is also protecting its natural environment through eco-tourism. In fact, the country's numerous places of interest, as well as its abundant flora and fauna, attracts tourists worldwide. These are highly promoted as a national treasure.

Costa Rica has also chosen to invest in health and education in the absence of an army force. Thus, its population is entitled to a high level educational system, which may seem quite surprising in the region. Indeed, the local workforce consists of many educated and trained people.

Labor market

You must have guessed by now that tourism, thanks to eco-tourism, is one of the country's main economic pillars. Other fields such as agriculture, coffee cultivation and export, offshore services, etc., also make a significant contribution to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Therefore, you can find internship opportunities in many fields, particularly in education, health care, social development, agriculture, animal and environment protection, etc.

Find an internship

Internship opportunities are not necessarily found in San Jose, the Costa Rican capital city. So why not try other more rural regions such as Guanacaste, Limon, Talamanca, etc., which have much to offer. As Costa Rica is a quite small country, you shall not have much trouble in getting there.

There are various ways to search for an internship in Costa Rica, namely, though specialized job, internship and volunteering websites. You can also seek the assistance of foreign Chambers of Commerce in the country or other diplomatic representatives. Universities and other higher educational institutions can also help you in this task. Feel free to refer to the article Work in Costa Rica for more tips.

 Good to know:

When moving to Costa Rica, whether to work or to perform an internship, a good level of Spanish or English is highly recommended, unless you are aiming at the tourism field. This will foster better communication between you and your employers and colleagues.


To be eligible for an internship in Costa Rica you must:

  • be between 18 and 35 years old (inclusive)
  • be in possession of a return ticket at the end of your authorized stay period
  • have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay in the country, at least in the beginning (amount to be confirmed with the Costa Rican consulate in your home country)
  • not be accompanied by a dependent
  • have a clean criminal record
  • be in possession of an acceptance letter issued by the institution or company which is taking you on board
  • subscribe to a health insurance which provides coverage in case of hospitalization and repatriation throughout your stay in the country.


You must apply for a visa at the nearest Costa Rican embassy or consulate to your place of residence in your home country. The following documents are to be produced:

  • a written request for a special category temporary visa, indicating your full name, nationality, occupation, date and place of birth, the estimated duration of your stay in Costa Rica, your passport number, type and validity period
  • the acceptance letter or contract issued by the company or higher education institution which is offering you an internship
  • a birth certificate and an extract of a clean criminal record (to be stamped and legalized by a public notary)
  • a passport (which, in general, should be valid for at least six months following your arrival date)
  • proof of sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay in the country (amount to be confirmed with the Costa Rican embassy or consulate in your home country
  • a recent passport-size photo
  • a duly filled and signed visa application form (to be filled on the spot during the appointment)
  • proof of deposit of consular fees
  • any other documents which may be requested by the embassy or consulate.

Temporary resident permit

On your arrival in Costa Rica, you can request for a temporary resident permit as a student or trainee at the Immigration Directorate in San Jose. In general, you will have to produce the following documents (to be confirmed with the Costa Rican embassy or consulate in your home country):

  • a written request from the host institution that the student (specifying its intention and interest in hiring a foreign student or trainee, as well as the applicant's full name, nationality, profession, date and place of birth, passport number, type and validity period, and an authorized contact number and address so as to receive notifications)
  • a photocopy your passport's identification pages (including your family name, first name, date and place of birth, passport number and expiry date). Note that your passport must be valid for the whole duration of your stay in Costa Rica
  • a legalized birth certificate, translated into Spanish by an official translator
  • a clean and legalized criminal record (indicating that you have never been convicted in your home country or in your country of residence during the last three years. Note that the document must be translated into Spanish by an official translator)
  • two recent passport-size photos.
  • fees applied.

 Useful links:

Expat.com – Work in Costa Rica Forum
General Directorate of Migration www.migracion.go.cr
Opción empleo www.opcionempleo.co.cr
Study Abroad www.studyabroad.com
UGA Costa Rica www.externalaffairs.uga.edu

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.