Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Title and Property Ownership in Costa Rica

The Costa Rica constitution allows non Costa Ricans have all the same land and property ownership rights as a Costa Rica citizen (the only exception to this are 4 and 5 below). Non Costa Ricans can own and hold land in their own name without the need for local partners or complex corporate structures.

This separates Costa Rica from many of its neighbouring countries where local partners and complex legal and corporate structures are required to own land and real estate.

Broadly land is divided into the five types below:

1. Titled Lands

The vast majority of land in Costa Rica is titled. There is a National Public registry website where you or your lawyer can check the title of property and ensure it is clean and without mortgages or liens.

2. Fifty-Meter Zone

From the high tide mark to 50 meters inland is public property in Costa Rica. This land cannot be developed and no permanent structure can be placed on the land. However, this land can be landscaped and some temporary structures are permitted.

This fifty meter zone was implemented to preserve the beaches and ocean-front as public property for the benefit of all.

3. Titled ocean front property to the 50 meter line.

In the mid 1970's owners of ocean front land in Costa Rica were asked to register their land with the local and national public registry offices. Those owners that registered their land got full title for their land to the fifty meter line (mentioned at 1 above). Only 15% of ocean front land on the coast line was registered at this time and this is prime ocean front property.

4. Municipal lease land - 150-meter zone.
The majority of ocean front land from the 50 meter zone to a distance 150 meters further inwards is owned by the local municipality.

This land can only be leased from the municipality in the form of a concession. Non Costa Rican's may only lease this land in partnership with a local Costa Rica partner, who must own more than 50% of the company entering into the lease agreement. It is not allowed for non Costa Ricans to lease this land personally.

This concession property usually has restrictions on development and zoning of the land.

This 50m zone exists to preserve public access to the public beaches.

5. Frontiers

Only Costa Rican citizens can purchase land within two kilometres of the national frontiers or borders.

This is a very quick introduction to title and property ownership in Costa Rica and when buying real estate or land in Costa Rica it is important to have the title checked by your legal representative

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