Can I start a biz from scratch and work in it with "investor" status?

Hello all,
Had the liberating experience a few weeks back by realizing I don't need to stay in the house I built in the states until I take a dirt nap. Started "planning" a new chapter, and here I am. We are visiting CR in the spring for the first time. 2 weeks, plan on seeing the pacific side. I am one of those folks that needs something to do (my wife would whole heartedly agree) every day, so were trying to utilize the trip to sort out if we want to/can, live/work in CR. We have traveled a decent amount so were not complete noobs.

My question is this. Specifically I am interested in operating an air taxi/charter biz with a small 6 place twin engine plane. It would meet the minimum investment threshold by itself. It looks like a "legal" business and straight forward as far as permits (I think). I would probably employ a couple of locals part time for various things but would pilot myself.

Anyone out there know if this idea will fly? ;)

Thanks - Sam

I would suggest you get up to date information from a lawyer.

Thanks - Any trustworthy referrals you may have?

No, unfortunately I can't recommend one for you.

I know that getting residency  on Investor status based on starting a new business is often very 'complicated'...and that you must have a very detailed business plan to present to immigration.

Outlier Legal offers this info;

"Investment Options"
New Business. Investment Amount: $200,000


"This category is available for people who will invest in a new business. Whether it is a hotel, a restaurant, a factory, a service company, or any other business, you will qualify for this category as long as you invest at least $200,000 USD.
This category requires to set up a business plan. This category is rarely used as very few people are able to comply with all of the requirements."

sambo77 :

Thanks - Any trustworthy referrals you may have?

Hola Sambo77,

Welcome to Expat.com!

I would highly recommend Marco who's information follows.  His credentials are remarkable and he has done some excellent work for me.  He specializes in unusual and difficult residencies.  His English is very limited so hopefully you speak espanol.

Marco Badilla Ch.
mfbadilla[at]abogados.or.cr
+506 8840 1928

- Expat Dave

Thanks Dave.
I have received some initial advice that seems to indicate that the purchase of a home worth more than $200k will also qualify which seems like a no brainer if one were buying in country.....

Just a heads up, our house that we built cost $380,000 with the land.  Our tax declaration with the local municipality is for $208,000 for Inversionista status.  We barely made it.  It is not what you pay, but rather what your assessment is.

Thanks TerynViv - That's great to know. So with that residency you are ok to work, correct (even if its for yourself)?????

You can't legally work until you have gained Permanent  Residency which will take between 4-5 years from your initial application, even when investing in a property. You can open a business, but are not permitted to 'physically' work in it,so you would have to employ Costa Rica citizens, a person with a work visa or who have Permanent Residency.

I would suggest you check into the licensing rules regarding piloting an aircraft here for profit and whether or not you would be required to be bilingual.

I found this site from years ago where you may want to post a question or at least read the responses

Sambo77;
No, Our cedulas read RESIDENTE INVERSIONISTA CON RESTRINGIDA
That means conditions restricted and you effectively cannot perform any paid labor.  You are initially given temporary residency status.  After three years with this condition one can apply for permanent residency and at that time you will be issued a new cedula that will say sin restringida (without restrictions) and you will be legal to work.

TerrynViv, Thanks for the info.

Well that's weird. My understanding was that one needed investor residency to be eligible to get paid for work. Then I learned that one could obtain investor residency by simply purchasing a home (or business) that met the minimum investment trigger.

Now it sounds like there may be a restricted investor residency. Maybe I go back to the business plan route. I have a meeting with an attorney on Monday, hopefully that will shed some light.

The aviation piece seems very straight forward as once I have the ability to pay myself, get a couple of stamps (rubber apparently)  I am free to offer in country charter (not regularly scheduled) and air taxi service as long as I can find a place to park, which apparently is the biggest issue according to the pilots side. Of course NOTHING is as easy or straight forward as it seems sometimes, so on with the adventure!!!!!

Sorry, that part about working is not correct.  If you look at this link an Inversionista has the same work rights as the other categories.  I could not find a way to attach a copy of my cedula to this post but I am positive of my facts.  I am switching to permanent in December.

This webpage may assist you, showing one status verses another, on one page.

Scroll down to the graph.

And the only one that says "Can Work" is permanent status.

Thanks Kohlerias - Looks like from the graph that one can earn money (pay myself)  as an investor from my own "project" or business, but not "work" for anyone else and get a paycheck. So that may explain why a simple home purchase doesn't work as it doesn't generate income, (unless developing a home project)  but a business investment would. It would also explain why everyone who has responded is also correct, for that particular set of facts.

You can earn income (pay yourself) but you CANNOT perform work.  Speak with a knowledgeable lawyer.

Before making any commitment, you should read the Labor Laws of Costa Rica  :unsure

Following this with interest and certainly sound legal advice is required. I'm planning to purchase a home and start a vacation rental business. Some hands on administrative and marketimg work will be done  by me and I would emply local resources fro upkeep and cleaning etc. I've been told the best approach is not to take a salary per se, but to form a Trust and that the corporate profits are an acceptable way for me to receive income. Is this not similar to your situation? Any comments on how sound this advice is?
Thanks
Kim

I would be very cautious if you try to perform  'physical work of any kind' including, not answering the phone...and they mean it.

Yes I think the term "work" is the rub here. My intension is to create my own job not take one away from someone, and in addition I would, like Kinmerllay, create a few local jobs on the service side too.

The difference between receiving income (from dividends or payouts ) without actually physically working seems to allowed across all residencies (makes sense as residency cant drive stock ownership) and actually doing the work is the distinction.

The investor residency allows "income from the project" but its looking like that may exclude physically working on that project, (which I was told otherwise) which would eliminate CR as a destination  for me as I would need to answer the phone and fly the plane........

Its sounding like there may be a discretionary path - but it sounds long, narrow, and full of brambles. I will update after my meeting with the attorney Monday.

From the ARCR website - Last sentence...…..

2) North Americans can stay in Costa Rica legally for up to 3 months. They must then leave for a period of 72 hours, then can then return to the country for another three months. If the three month period is overstayed, a travel agency or ARCR can arrange payment of a small fine and prepare the travel documents required to leave the country for the required 72 hours. Tourists can own vehicles, property, businesses and generate income from self employment

You may be eligible for a 'special permit' however this isn't a residency category, so you will still have to apply for residency. A permit has to be re-applied for every year or two.

This was why I suggested that you contact a lawyer, in my first response  :joking:
BTW  you do not have to remain out of the country 72 hours unless you are hoping/intending  to bring in goods without  having to pay duty on them

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