With beautiful tropical weather, stunning beach filled coastlines and pristine rain forests, Costa Rica is one of the most popular destinations for English teachers looking to live and work abroad.
The majority of foreign English teachers are working on a tourist visa. Unlike many countries it is technically legal to work without a visa. For many nationalities including Americans, Canadians and most Western Europeans, a tourist visa is issues on arrival. The visas are valid for 90 days and can be renewed by crossing the border to a neighboring country and back again.
When entering the country it’s worth bearing in mind that you are not legally allowed to work on a tourist visa until you have registered for a tax number from within the country. To avoid unnecessary problems at the airport you should avoid mentioning your intention to work and declare yourself as an ordinary tourist if asked. It is also best not to arrive with bags of teaching paraphernalia in case you are randomly searched by customs.
To work legally on a tourist visa you need to get a tax number by registering at the government office known as the Tributacion. To register all you will need is a copy of your passport and your local address in the city where you are registering. You do not need to wait until you have a job before registering. Once you have you r tax number you will need to get a book of receipts from a print shop. Whenever you are paid you give a receipt to your employer. The tax threshold is $8,000 per year so teachers end up paying very little tax if any.