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6 Best Rentista Visas In Latin America: Everything You Need to Know

Many people dream of having a second home in one of the many paradises strewn throughout Latin America.

Unfortunately, the immigration process, the short stay of 30 day visas, and potentially living as a perpetual tourist and not truly a resident of a country you may plan to live in long term can be off putting to many people, preventing them from making that dream move to Latin America.

But, there is a solution. The “Rentista Visa. A multi-year option to fully live in the country of your choice.

For those who earn a modest amount of income from either real estate rentals or other investments, the “Rentista Visa”, is a residency permit offered by most countries in Latin America and may be your key to staying in your dream country indefinitely

In this article, we’ll review what a Rentista visa is, which Latin American countries offer Rentista visa and potentially permanent residency, and why a Rentista visa may be the best immigration path to making a second home in Latin America.

CONTENTS

The 6 Best Rentisa Visa Options in Latin America: Everything you need to Know

What is a “Rentista?”

“Rentista” is the Spanish word for “Rentier,” or a person living on (passive) income from real estate or financial investments.

In the context of nomads, expats, and retirees aiming to make a more permanent home in Latin America, “Rentista” is the label that qualifies certain people for a valuable temporary resident permit, more commonly referred to as a “Rentista Visa.”

What is a Rentista visa or residency permit?

“Rentista visas” or more accurately, “Rentista Temporary Residence Permits” are temporary residence permits granted by countries in Latin America to any qualifying person who can prove 1) a legal, passive, stable and permanent income above a stated monthly income minimum threshold and 2) a clean criminal record in their country of residence.

The rentista temporary residence visa granted is generally valid for one to three years, and easily renewable by simply showing proof of continued, regular monthly income from rentals, pensions, or financial investments or other permanent passive income sources.

Why is a Rentista visa worth knowing about?

Rentista visas allow long stays without the need of visa runs

Your Rentista visa most importantly allows you a long stay, for multiple years, in your country of choice without leaving and visa free travel to and from your chosen country.

Time spent on a rentista visa qualifies you for permanent residency and citizenship

As an additional benefit, your time spent on one of these temporary residence permits can lead to receiving permanent residency in your new home followed by citizenship in that country and the second passport that comes with it. For most countries that offer a “rentista visa,” the rentier qualifies for permanent residency after 2 to 3 years, and qualifies for citizenship in 2 to 5 more years

Rentistas are authorized to own business and be self employed (in most countries)

Most countries in Latin America offering rentista residency permits allow their rentier guest to own business or engage in solopreneurship in the country you will live. As long as you do not work as an employee for anyone else, you are generally allowed to explore business opportunities, business ventures, and continue work for clients and customers based outside of your country

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What countries in Latin America offer Rentista Visas worth knowing about?

We will review the reasons why each country is a great option, the requirements, and the details of each countries rentista visa later. First, let’s understand what the rentista visa is and how to get it. If you want to jump right to the visa details for a specific country, just click the link above

Stipulations and requirements of most Rentista Visas

  • Source of qualifying income must be passive, generally real estate income or income from financial investments
  • Qualifying income must be above a minimum threshold ranging from $650 USD to $3,300 USD and varying by country
  • You must be able to provide apostilled criminal record checks, financial documents, and proof of ownership of associated real estate and investments that produce the qualifying income

How to get a Rentista Visa: Apply on your own, or hire an attorney?

Though information online will overwhelming scare you into hiring an attorney for your visa process, Panama is the only country in Latin America offering a rentista visa that requires you to use an attorney.

However if you have the $2,000 to $3,000 to waste on top of the $250 to $1,000 the visa will cost, it is very easy to hire one of the many immigration attorneys available in each country to handle the process for you.

For all other countries – Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Ecuador – you can full navigate the process yourself as many before you have done, and you will save the common $2,000 to $3,000 in lawyer fees in the process. Though it inherently will take longer gathering the documents, having the documents apostilled, submitting the documents, navigating the bureaucracy, figuring out what is missing, and repeating the steps, many travelers, nomads, and retirees before you have navigated the process and, throughout that process, become more familiar with their new home country.

For virtually all countries, you have the option of starting the process online or at the consulate in person.

To apply at the consulate in person:

1. Review the required documentation and whether the country requires apostille and translation to Spanish

2. Have all documents certified, notarized, or apostilled and translated according to the country’s stated requirements (all country info sections below have links to official websites)

3. Visit the consulate to submit the application, submit required documentation, pay the required consular and application fees, and schedule an interview

From here, the consular team will inform you of the remaining steps in the process and timing for submitting additional documents, follow on interviews, approving your application and inserting the visa sticker in your passport

To apply for a rentista visa online

  1. Visit the embassy, consulate, or immigration department website to create an account, understand the application process, and understand all of the document requirements
  2. Review the required documentation and whether the country requires apostille and translation to Spanish
  3. Have all documents certified, notarized, or apostilled and translated according to the country’s stated requirements (all country info sections below have links to official websites)
  4. Submit digital copies of all required documents online
  5. Follow instructions to attend the consular interview
  6. Await communication for additional instructions or submitting additional documentation
  7. After approval, receive instructions to have your visa sticker placed in your passport
  8. Submit original copies of all additionally required documents within 30 days of receiving your visa

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The 6 Best Rentisa Visa Options in Latin America

Though Costa Rica and Mexico are the most frequently searched and sought after destinations for long stays in Latin America, there are five other fantastic options for living in South America with a high quality of life, low cost, and beautiful scenery.

Each of these countries is a highly recommended nomad, expat, or retirement haven. Additionally, each country has an easy to navigate visa process, and each country has a straight forward path for the rentista visa to be converted to Permanent Residency and potential citizenship and a second passport.

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Costa Rican Rentista Visa

Costa Rica is a popular option for escaping to Latin America and is highly sought after with good reason. The “Pura Vida” approach to existing combined with a short jump from the US and Canada make this warm, coastal, tropical destination a great place to lay roots. With the prospect of long term residence and citizenship, Costa Rica is easily a great option for a rentista temporary residency

Quick facts for Costa Rica Rentista Visa (Temporary Residency Permit)

  • Minimum Annual Income to qualify: $30,000
  • Length of visa: 2 years, renewable
  • Time to convert rentista visa to permanent residency: 3 Years
  • Time to convert to citizenship: 7 years as permanent resident
  • Nationalities allowed: All
  • Tax liability: A temporary residence permit makes you a tax resident and you will be taxed on 10% to 25% of your declared income

Costa Rica’s Rentista Visa has a minimum income requirement of $2500 income from rental or investment (mutual funds, stocks, 401k, equities, bonds, rental income, savings withdrawals, etc) with proof of at least 2 years of prior payments, showing a commitment letter for 2 years of upcoming payments for $2500, or lump sum depositing $60,000 into a Costa Rican bank account at application and renewal.

The temporary residency permit is valid for 2 years and can renewed as long as 1) you have lived in the country 4 months per year and 2) can prove income again. After 3 years residing in Costa Rica on the Rentista Visa (or other temporary residence permit) you are eligible for permanent residency.

Permanent residents can work for any employer. Maintaining permanent residence only requires visiting Costa Rica 3 days per year and the permanent residency is valid for 5 years, at which time you will have to renew.

The Costa Rican Government permits rentista visa holders to own businesses or be self employed but are not allowed to be employees

After 7 years as a permanent residence, you may apply for naturalized citizenship and a passport, and dual passports are allowed

All applications for a Rentista Visa should happen while you are legally in Costa Rica on a legal Costa Rican visa

All documents issued outside from Costa Rica must be properly apostilled or legalized by the Costa Rican Consulate and then certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica.

Documents issued in a language different Spanish should be translated through an official translator or through a Public Notary who masters the language.

Documents required to apply for the Costa Rica Rentista Visa:

  • Rentista Visa Application Form. Available at the Migration and Foreign Affairs Office or the Costa Rican Embassy.
  • Recording of your fingerprints by the Costa Rican Ministry of Public Safety
  • Proof of paid fees
  • A statement of income and proof of income: Either a commitment letter for income over the following 2 years of $2,500 per month, proof of income for the preceding 2 years for $2,500 per month, or proof of $60,000 deposit with 3 options for proof:
    • Income Certification Letter issued by an International Bank
    • Income Certification Letter issued by a Costa Rican Bank
    • Income Certification Letter issued by a Costa Rican Public Accountant
  • Apostiled Criminal Record Check by the national level law enforcement agency/ federal agency from countries of residence for more than one year over the past three years with a certificate not older than 6 months
  • Original passport and certified copies of the passport
  • Proof of consular registration
  • Apostiled Original or Certified copy of Birth Certificate
  • Apostiled Original or Certified copy of Marriage Certificate (if applicable)
  • Proof of Consular registration with your home country consulate in Costa Rica

Other Important Information on the Costa Rica Rentista Visa Application Process

  • Expected Processing Time: 12 to 15 months
  • Costa Rica Rentista Visa Application Fees:
    • Rentista Visa Application: $250
    • Governmental Fees: $374
  • Spouse and Children under 25 years old are eligible for the rentista Visas on the same income and application, but additional fees apply
  • Relevant Legislation
    • 37112 of the General Immigration Law

For full details on the process and an official statement on how to apply, visit:

Other Options: Pension visa and lump sum investment visa:

  • Inversionista (Lump sum deposit of $200,000, governed by regulation Article 87, Decree No. 37112-G )
  • Pensionado: $1,000 per month of guaranteed payments from a government, business, social security fund distributions, or fixed retirement plan, governed by Costa Rican regulation Article 81, Law 8764. Work is not allowed on a Pensionado Visa

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Argentina Rentista Visa

Argentina is an often overlooked long term destination, because of remoteness and recent economic crises. However, for mildly adventurous travelers with income from abroad, this land of steak, wine, and beautiful landscapes has much to offer at a great price.

Quick Facts on the Argentina Rentista Visa

  • Minimum monthly income: 5x the minimum annual income as declared by the Argentine Government, currently 132,000 Pesos (ARS) per month x 5 = 660,000 ARS = $580 USD as of February 2024
  • Length of visa: 1 year, renewable up to 3 years
  • Renewable: Yes, as long as you show proof of income. No physical presence requirement for temporary residency renewal
  • Time to convert to permanent residency: After 3 years of temporary residency (on Rentista visa) you may apply for permanent residency
  • Time to convert to citizenship: After 2 years of permanent residency, you may apply for citizenship
  • Tax liability: Temporary residents become tax residents and liable for taxes after the 12th month as a resident
  • Conversion to passport possible: Conversion to passport after 2 years, dual citizenship is allowed
  • Nationalities Allowed: All allowed, no nationalities restricted
  • Supporting Laws and Regulation
  • Spouses and Children: Spouses and children under 25 years of age are eligible under the same application/income claimed.

Documents Required for the Argentine Rentista Visa

  • Apostiled criminal record check from countries of residency for more than a year over the last 3 years
  • Apostiled documents attesting the source of the passive income from real estate or other investments
  • Proof of deposit via receipt of the monthly minimum income requirement to qualify
  • Restrictions: Rentista visa holders may establish a business or work on their own, but may not be employed by someone else
  • All documents must be translated into Spanish and certified by the College of Translators

How to start the process

Many travelers I’ve met have gone through this process without a lawyer, so it is possible to apply for and receive the rentista visa on your own. However, beware that there are many documents that you will need originals of and apostilled in your home country prior to being translated. You will need those original documents in Argentina to complete the process.

To start the process via the Argentine Government’s “RADEX” system, review the process and document requirements, create an account, and begin the application process online. You will need to complete the process in Buenos Aires, where you will have an interview with the immigration department, be directed on what additional documents you require, and (hopefully) be awarded a precariat that allows indefinite stay.

A Note on calculation of the minimum income for the Argentine Rentista Visa

The Argentine government has set the official minimum income requirement for this visa at 5x the monthly minimum wage which is 132,000 Pesos (ARS) per month. This translates to a minimum monthly income of 660,000 Pesos (ARS) per month

Sources:

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Ecuador Rentista Visa

With less than $1,000 per month cost of living in it’s capital and the most biodiverse country on the planet, Ecuador is a gem of a location to consider living long term.

Quick facts on the Ecuador Rentista Visa

  • Minimum annual income: $16,560
  • Length of visa: 2 years
  • Renewable: Yes, as long as you stay the minimum of 90 days per year
  • Time to convert to permanent residency: 21 months
  • Time to convert to citizenship: 4 years of living in Ecuador with temporary residency
  • Tax liability: Ecuador only taxes income sourced from Ecuador and does not tax global income on this visa
  • Nationalities Allowed
  • Supporting Laws and Regulation
  • Price: Visa application USD $50, Visa granting USD $270
  • The Ecuadorian Rentier visa additionally allows rentiers to remote work

or

  • Anyone who presents documentation showing that they are the owner of a business or company registered and domiciled abroad may also apply for this visa
  • Proof of health insurance is required for the entire length of stay
  • Spouses and children are permitted on the same application for an additional fee of $250 per person
  • Official Sources

Documents required

  • Completed Application Form: https://www.cancilleria.gob.ec/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/formulario_de_visas.pdf
  • Apostiled criminal record report from the country of origin or the country you have resided for the previous 5 years, and received within 180 days of the report’s issuance date
  • Proof of assets and income equal to three times the monthly Unified Basic Income (Monthly Minimum Wage) which was last set at $460 per month (thus, minimum qualifying income is ~$1,380 as of 2024) with validated bank statement proof for the last 3 months
  • Certified documents proving that documents that demonstrate that the visa applicant works or provides services for a foreign employer, client or company, domiciled abroad, to carry out autonomous or dependent professional activities remotely, digitally or teleworking

Application Process

  • Apply via the Government Application Portal, submitting virtual copies of the required documents and submitting payment here at the Ecuador government’s virtual consular payment site
  • Send the application via the portal
  • Pay the initial $50 fee
  • Schedule an interview appointment at your nearest consulate
  • Attend the interview
  • Wait for visa approval which should be processed within 7 working days
  • Complete the second payment of $270
  • Await the email with your visa and submit original copies of the required documents to the consulate within 30 days

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Chile Rentista Visa

With a universally calm demeanor, a budding world class wine industry, and some of the most amazing natural landscapes in the world, Chile is an excellent option as a place to settle down. Essentially, blessed with California landscape in the southern hemisphere, without the prices, unnecessary glam, and political issues, Chile has the beauty and pace of California in the 1970’s. If that sounds up your alley, consider the Chilean Rentisa Visa

Chile Rentista Visa Quick Facts

  • Minimum annual income: $1,500 per month
  • Length of visa: 1 year, renewable for an additional year then converted into permanent residency
  • Time to convert to permanent residency: 2 years of temporary residency on rentista visa
  • Time to convert to citizenship: 5 years of continuous permanent residency
  • Application processing time for visa: 2 to 3 months
  • Official Sources

Chile’s Rentista visa is targeted at rentiers, people that receive constant income derived from investments in real estate or financial assets, and retired persons with a pension delivering a set and verifiable monthly payment.

Though the minimum income is not specifically state in Chile’s regulations, the regulations do state that must be able to prove a verifiable passive income sufficient for their stay according to the Ministry of Social Development and Family (https://www.desarrollosocialyfamilia.gob.cl/ ) which in practice has appeared to be a $1,500 per month minimum.

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Colombia Rentista Visa

One of the most easily accessible locations from North America and one of the most developed in Latin America, Colombia boasts several excellent destinations to call home. From Medellin, the city of eternal spring recognized for 72 degree temperatures year round, to the coastal Caribbean cities of Cartagena and Santa Marta, to beautiful pacific beaches, coffee plantations, and the vibrant locals.

The kicker, is the cost of living in Colombia will likely be lower than comparable destinations in Central America, but with a higher standard of living. So, if you are looking for a second home a quick flight from North America, with Pacific coastline, Caribbean coastline, and low cost of living, consider Colombia

Colombia Rentista Visa Quick Facts

  • Minimum annual income: 10x minimum wage for rental or passive income, 3x minimum wage for pensioner income, approximately $3,300 per month (COP 1,300,000 x 10 = COP 13,000,000 = ~$3,300 in 2024)
  • Length of visa: 2 years
  • Time to convert to permanent residency
  • Time to convert to citizenship
  • Tax liability
  • Conversion to passport possible
  • Nationalities Allowed
  • Supporting Laws and Regulation
  • Spouses and Children: Spouses and children up to 25 years old are eligible on the same application
  • Restrictions: Work within Colombia is not permitted on this visa
  • Official Sources

Documents Required

  • Visa application letter declaring the source of income
  • Certificate of judicial, criminal or police records issued by the authority of the country where you have stayed during the last three (3) years with the apostille or legalization and translation formalities established in Article 21 of this Resolution
  • Apostiled certificate as proof specifying the income paid or drawn in the name of the foreigner applying for the visa; or demonstrate that one owns assets in Colombia from which an income is derived. The amount of rental income may not be less than ten (10) current legal monthly minimum wages (fixed income test)
  • Six months of bank statements as additional proof of income
  • Health policy with coverage in the national territory against all risks in the event of accident, illness, maternity, disability, hospitalization, death or repatriation, for the time planned for your stay in the country

How to apply for the Colombian Rentista Visa

Upon application approval, you will have to go to a Colombian consulate to have the visa added to the passport.

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Panama Rentista Visa

At the tail end of Central America lies a gem that many are discovering – Panama. Delivering the comfort, convenience, and quality of life that Costa Rica is at a fraction of the price. Developed infrastructure, a good tax situation, and a convenient hop to the rest of North America or South America make this a perfect base for anyone in the Americas

  • Minimum annual income: $12,000
  • Length of visa
  • Time to convert to permanent residency
  • Time to convert to citizenship
  • Tax liability
  • Conversion to passport possible
  • Nationalities Allowed
  • Supporting Laws and Regulation
  • Official Sources

Documents Required

  • Completed Registration Form (Available at the Panama City Immigration Office)
  • Apostiled Birth Certificate (it must be an updated version issued by the Office of Vital Records of the State you were born in)
  • Apostiled proof of Income – notarized.
  • Certified Marriage Certificate, if applicable.
  • Apostiled Original Police Record Check issued by the F.B.I.
  • Certified letter from a company or government confirming monthly payments and amounts

How to Apply

You must file an application through a Panamanian Lawyer and you must apply in Panama

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