Costa Rica banking is easier than most people expect! Though residency makes banking (and various other things) simpler, a tourist can open up a bank account if a few requirements are met. First, a passport is absolutely necessary. Next, proof of a local address is required through a local utility bill in your name. Additionally, there must be proof of an income source. Last but not least, there are some forms to fill out!
Costa Rica has laws that prevent the government or any private agency from obtaining anyone’s account information, unless a court order is issued. This protects the assets of expatriates, tourists, or anyone spending extended time in Costa Rica from unwarranted lawsuits back home.
There are two routes to go with Costa Rica banking: government or private. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Private banks offer a great customer service experience; quick lines and service, English speakers, and up-to-date services and rewards. However, deposits in private banks are less protected, though are safeties in place and chances are no issues would arise, especially with the larger ones. Popular private banks include Banex, Banco Custatian, BanCrecen, Interfin, and Scotiabank.
The main perks of Costa Rica banking through the government are protection and coverage. The government backs deposits and just about every town has a Bank of Costa Rica or a National Bank. Two additional public banks are Banco Popular and Bancredito. Though public banks can be more accessible and safer financially, there are downsides. Spending hours in lines is not uncommon at government banks. This can partly be avoided by avoiding the well-known high traffic times – Monday mornings, Friday afternoons, and the 1st, 15th, and 30th of the month. Also, occasionally there are no English-speaking representatives; in larger areas, this should not be a problem, though.
Financing is available in Costa Rica, though it can be tricky an unattractive. In most cases, lending is reserved to residents. However, some private firms offer financing to non-residents, though usually at unfavorable rates.
If you’re thinking about spending extended time down here and have specific questions about Costa Rica banking, please let us know!