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Starting a Business in

Costa Rica

Below is a detailed summary of the bureaucratic and legal hurdles faced by entrepreneurs wishing to incorporate and register a new firm in Costa Rica. It examines the procedures, time and cost involved in launching a commercial or industrial firm with between 10 and 50 employees and start-up capital of 10 times the economy's per-capita gross national income.

This information was collected as part of the Doing Business project, which measures and compares regulations relevant to the life cycle of a small- to medium-sized domestic business in 190 economies. The most recent round of data collection was completed in June 2016.

Compare Costa Rica to 189 other economies.

  • No. Procedure Time to Complete Associated Costs
    1

    Check the availability of the proposed company name

    Agency: National Registry ( Registro de Personas Jurídicas)

    Companies can also be registered by number, in which case the name would not have to be verified. However, companies that plan to commercialize their name must first verify the availability of the company name. The company name can be verified online ( https://www.rnpdigital.com) free of cost. In addition, the company can request a name certificate for a cost of CRC 3300 at the registry.
    Less than one day (online procedure) no charge
    2

    A notary public drafts and notarizes public deeds of the incorporation charter for registration before the Mercantile Section of the Public Registry online

    Agency: Public Notary

    According to the fee structure established by Executive Order No. 36562-JP effective on august 13, 2015, though the notary public can negotiate fees, the fee for notarizing the articles of association is CRC 165,000 for any corporation.
    Since January 2014 it is mandatory for the Notary Public, when incorporating the company (S.A. or LLC) if the stock capital is paid in cash or securities, to do it using the digital signature through the site www.crearempresa.go.cr
    Less than one day (online procedure) CRC 165,000
    3

    Deposit capital in the bank account, pay registration fees and stamp duties

    Agency: National Banking System

    As a prerequisite for registering the company, 25% of the capital stock indicated in the incorporation charter (if paid in cash) must be deposited in a national bank. The amount deposited may be withdrawn once the company has been duly recorded. If founders chose to sign a promissory note, there is no enforceable obligation to deposit capital in a bank account later. In fact, the business is not even required to operate a bank account at any point during its existence.

    If the company was incorporated on January 1st, 2016, the registration fees, which include the notary public fees, are CRC 258,876.23, which is broken down as follows:

    Stamp fees:
    National Archive (Archivo Nacional) CRC 20
    Coleg Contad. Priv (Libros legales) CRC 75
    Colegio de Abogados CRC 15,000
    Educación y Cultura CRC 750
    Fiscal CRC 625

    Municipal Fees CRC 0.2% of capital

    National Registry CRC 42,420.00

    Legal Books CRC 17,150.00

    Agrary Stamp (Agrario) CRC 78,358.50

    Effective as of January 2016, the Yearly Tax on Legal Persons was ruled unconstitutional. It will not be required to pay the tax upon incorporation and subsequently every year thereafter.
    1 day see comments
    4

    Register the incorporation charter in the mercantile section of the public registry and obtain authorization to legalize the company books; send the notice of constitution of the company (edicto)

    Agency: National Registry ( Registro de Personas Jurídicas)

    In February 2012, Costa Rica launched Crear Empresa, an online platform for business registration, which has reduced significantly the time to register a business. This online platform has been used by an increasing number of users over the past year. Now all incorporation documents can be submitted electronically.
    2 days CRC 5,000 (digital registration fees) + CRC 780 per line (10 lines for CRC 7,800) + CRC 20 (stamp for the Archivo Nacional)
    5

    File Form D-140 with the before the Tax Department to register the firm as a taxpayer

    Agency: Registro Unico de Contribuyentes, Dirección General de Tributación Directa

    Costa Rican citizens or corporations with a Costa Rican legal representative can register electronically as taxpayer (https://www.haciendadigital.go.cr/inscriptipopersona.jsp)
    Less than one day (online procedure) see comment
    * 6

    Register for labor risk insurance with the National Insurance Institute (Instituto Nacional de Seguros)

    Agency: Instituto Nacional de Seguros (INS)

    The National Insurance Institute is the only insurance at the moment that only offers labor insurance. The annual premium for this type of insurance is about 2.17% of reported payroll.
    1 day (simultaneous with previous procedure) no charge
    * 7

    Register the company as an employer with Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS, Social Security Institution)

    Agency: Social Security (Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social)

    After submitting the documents required, the CCSS issues a registration form (inscripción ante CCSS de persona jurídica) that allows the company to start operations. Within 15 days after registration with the CNSS, the company will receive an ex-post inspection from an officer, which consists on a simple verification of the information provided by the company about the business activity and the employees.
    1 day (simultaneous with previous procedure) no charge
    8

    Apply for sanitary permit

    Agency: Health Department (Ministerio de Salud)

    The cost for applying for a sanitary permit depends on the degree of environmental risk of the company and varies from USD 30 to USD 100 (USD 30 for low environmental risk, USD 50 for moderate environmental risk, USD 100 for high environmental risk).
    1 day USD 30
    9

    Apply for the business license (patente municipal) from the municipality

    Agency: Local municipality

    All new businesses must apply for the business license (patente municipale) from the municipality.
    15 days Cost varies between CRC 10,000 and CRC 100,000 depending on the type of activity, number of employees, location.

    * Takes place simultaneously with previous procedure.