flag Costa Rica Costa Rica: Investing

FDI in Figures

According to UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2023, FDI inflows to Costa Rica declined by 5.8% in 2022, totaling USD 3 billion, still higher than the 2018-20 average. At the end of the same period, the stock of FDI was estimated at USD 52.2 billion, around 76.4% of the country’s GDP. Recently, investment in high-skilled sectors, such as high-tech medical equipment, has been considerable, making the industry Costa Rica's leading exporter. Other important sectors for FDI are manufacturing and infrastructure. Furthermore, Colombian and Chinese investments have been growing steadily. The tourism sector has also been increasing significantly. The main investing countries are the United States, Canada, and Mexico. On the future side, Costa Rica's admission to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the approval of PPP regulations should strengthen FDI. Data from the Costa Rican Foreign Trade Promotion Agency (PROCOMER) showed that FDI in 2023 reached a total of USD 3.921 billion, marking a 24% increase from 2022. Procomer disclosed that in 2023, 61% of the funds went to free trade zones, with 19% directed to the definitive regime. Additionally, 7% each were allocated to the real estate and tourism sectors, while 2% were split between the financial sector and active improvement initiatives.

Over the past two decades, Costa Rica has achieved notable success in fostering an ecosystem supportive of export-oriented technology firms, suppliers of goods and services, affiliated public institutions and universities, and a skilled workforce. The country actively pursues foreign direct investment (FDI), prioritizing the attraction and retention of high-quality investments. Investment promotion efforts are spearheaded by the Ministry of Foreign Trade (COMEX), with execution managed through PROCOMER. In its latest 2023-2026 strategy, Procomer delineated several sectors it aims to strengthen in terms of FDI, including advanced manufacturing, life sciences, and corporate services. Additionally, it identified "incipient sectors" such as agriculture, mariculture, logistics, and the film industry for development. Costa Rica upholds and encourages the rights of both foreign and domestic private entities to establish and own business enterprises and engage in most profitable activities. Exceptions exist in sectors reserved for the state or requiring a minimum participation of Costa Rican citizens or residents (such as electrical power generation, transport services, public accounting, and private security services). While state-owned entities dominate areas like medical services, telecommunications, finance, and insurance, private sector competition is not precluded. Notably, Costa Rica lacks an investment screening mechanism for inbound foreign investment. Several factors hinder FDI in the country. These include vulnerability to natural disasters, inadequate transport infrastructure, heavy economic reliance on the United States with a fully dollarized economy, and a large informal economy. Costa Rica ranks 74th among the 132 economies on the Global Innovation Index 2023 and 14th out of 184 countries on the latest Index of Economic Freedom.


Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors

  Costa Rica Latin America & Caribbean United States Germany
Index of Transaction Transparency* 5.0 4.1 7.0 5.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 5.0 5.2 9.0 5.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 8.0 6.7 9.0 5.0

Source: Doing Business - Latest available data.

Note: *The Greater the Index, the More Transparent the Conditions of Transactions. **The Greater the Index, the More the Manager is Personally Responsible. *** The Greater the Index, the Easier it Will Be For Shareholders to Take Legal Action.

Foreign Direct Investment 202020212022
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 1,7633,2313,045
FDI Stock (million USD) 46,112.249,343.352,242.7
Number of Greenfield Investments* 105.0144.0156.0
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 1,7671,5742,507

Source: UNCTAD - Latest available data

Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.


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Tax Rates

Sales Tax - Impuesto General sobre las Ventas (local name)
13% (standard rate).
Selective consumption tax: levied on goods that are considered non-essential with rates of up to 100%.

Several reduced VAT rates apply:
1%: goods that form part of the “basic consumption basket” (essential goods for all households)
2%: medicines, private education services and personal insurance premiums
4%: private health services and local flight tickets
Zero-rated items include: goods and services destined for exports, goods and services sold to a beneficiary of Free Trade Zone Regime (FTZR), books, services rendered for cultural radio stations, private education services when they are rendered by preschool, middle school, high school, college and any other education institution supervised by the Superior Education Counsel.
Exempt goods include: veterinarian services, including livestock; domestic monthly consumption of electricity not exceeding 280 kilowatts per hour; books, musical compositions and paintings created in Costa Rica; exported goods; re-importation of national goods within three years of their export; construction-related services (until 1 July 2021, 4% thereafter).
Company Tax
Withholding Taxes
Dividends: 5% (paid by stock corporations whose shares are registered on a local, officially recognized stock exchange)/15%, Interests: 0 (resident company)/15%, Royalties: 0 (residents)/25% (non-residents).
Social Security Contributions Paid By Employers
Other Domestic Resources
Finance Ministry of Costa Rica
Overview of Costa Rica's tax measures in response to Covid-19
Consult Doing Business Website, to obtain a summary of the taxes and mandatory contributions.

Individual Taxes

Income tax for self-employed individuals Progressive rates from 0% to 25%
Until CRC 3,742,000 0%
CRC 3,742,001 - 5,589,000 10%
CRC 5,589,000 - 9,322,000 15%
CRC 9,322,000 - 18,683,000 20%
Above CRC 18,683,000 25%
Income tax for employees (withhold by the employer) Progressive rates from 0% to 15%
Until CRC 842,000 0%
CRC 842,001 - 1,236,000 10%
CRC 1,236,000 - 2,169,000 15%
CRC 2,169,000 - 4,337,000 20%
Above CRC 4,337,000 25%

Country Comparison For Corporate Taxation

  Costa Rica Latin America & Caribbean United States Germany
Number of Payments of Taxes per Year 10.0 28.2 10.6 9.0
Time Taken For Administrative Formalities (Hours) 151.0 327.5 175.0 218.0
Total Share of Taxes (% of Profit) 58.3 46.8 36.6 48.8

Source: Doing Business - Latest available data.

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Investment Opportunities

Tenders, Projects and Public Procurement
Inter-American Development Bank, Tenders in South America
DgMarket, Tenders Worldwide
Setting Up a Company
Consult Doing Business Website, to know about procedures to start a Business in Costa Rica.
Useful Resources
Costa Rican Investment and Trade Development Board

Business Setup Procedures

Setting Up a Company Costa Rica Latin America & Caribbean
Procedures (number) 10.00 8.00
Time (days) 23.00 25.22

Source: Doing Business.


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Latest Update: May 2024