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Buying a Business in Costa Rica: A Guide for Success

Buying a Business in Costa Rica

Are you considering buying a business in Costa Rica? Wondering whether it’s a smart move or if you should start from scratch? If you plan to relocate to Costa Rica and generate income, this article is for you. We understand that doing business in Costa Rica may seem challenging, but don’t worry. This comprehensive guide will provide valuable insights on how to buy a business in Costa Rica successfully.

Conduct Thorough Research

Before making any decisions, it’s crucial to do your homework. Buying a business in Costa Rica offers several advantages over starting a new one. However, gathering all the necessary information is essential to make an informed choice. By conducting thorough research, you’ll gain insights into the market, identify potential risks, and ensure a successful transition.

Tap into Existing Market Opportunities

Costa Rica presents unique market opportunities, especially for products or services not readily available. If you have an excellent idea for a product or service that doesn’t exist, you might find success by introducing it to the Costa Rican market. However, it’s essential to seek guidance from an experienced real estate agent who understands the local need and can help you assess the demand for your offering.

Consider Financing Options

Securing bank financing for a new business in Costa Rica can be challenging, especially if you’re not a legal resident or lack established business credibility. However, buying a business with owner financing could be a viable option. Explore opportunities where the current owner is willing to finance the purchase, providing you with a more accessible route to business ownership.

Choose the Right Location

Selecting the right location is crucial when buying a business in Costa Rica. Collaborating with a well-connected real estate agent with in-depth area knowledge is highly recommended. While starting a business from scratch may involve significant bureaucratic hurdles, purchasing an existing business could save you time and money. To explore the wide range of companies available for sale in Costa Rica, look at our inventory, which includes bed & breakfasts, cattle farms, hotels, industrial companies, restaurants and bars, retail stores, tourism businesses, wellness centers, and properties with commercial potential.

Benefits of Buying a Business in Costa Rica

Opting for an existing business in Costa Rica provides several advantages, particularly permits, and licenses. You can bypass the bureaucratic complexities of starting from scratch by purchasing a business with all the necessary permits and licenses. Additionally, existing businesses have established policies, procedures and trained employees, allowing you to focus on improving the company instead of dealing with common startup challenges.

Making the Right Corporate Structure Decision

When buying a business, it’s crucial to consider the appropriate corporate structure. While smaller companies can operate as micro and small enterprise, it’s advisable to manage any business formally through a legally registered corporation. You must evaluate whether to buy the corporation’s stock or solely purchase its assets and transfer them to a new corporation. Consulting with an attorney specializing in corporate law will help you determine the best approach based on your business needs.

Checklist for Evaluating an Existing Corporation

To ensure a successful acquisition, a comprehensive evaluation is necessary. Consider the following factors:

  • Assess the seller’s honesty and review the clarity of the business’s financial records.
  • Evaluate the seller’s understanding of the local business landscape and market conditions in Costa Rica.
  • Determine the impact on clients and suppliers when ownership changes occur.
  • Verify if the lease agreement is under the existing corporation’s name.
  • Review the ownership and condition of any vehicles associated with the business.
  • Confirm that all equipment is owned by the business and in good working order.
  • Assess the quality and tenure of the existing workforce and evaluate their contracts and benefits.
  • Evaluate any existing contracts, licenses, and permits held by the business.
  • Examine the reputation and online presence of the business to ensure a positive brand image.

Seek Professional Guidance

Navigating the process of buying a business in Costa Rica can be complex, especially for foreigners. It is highly recommended to seek professional guidance to ensure a smooth transaction. Consider working with an attorney specializing in business acquisitions and a certified public accountant (CPA) who can provide valuable insights into the financial aspects of the business.

Understand Legal and Tax Obligations

Familiarize yourself with the legal and tax obligations of buying and owning a business in Costa Rica. Consult an attorney to understand the legal procedures, contracts, permits, and licenses required. Work closely with a CPA to ensure compliance with tax regulations and optimize your financial management.

Plan for a Smooth Transition

Once the acquisition is complete, plan for a smooth transition to ensure the business’s continued success. Develop a transition strategy with a clear communication plan with employees, clients, and suppliers. Take the time to understand the existing operations and identify areas for improvement. Implement any necessary changes gradually to minimize disruptions and maintain business continuity.


Buying a business in Costa Rica can be rewarding, offering opportunities in a vibrant market with great potential. You can increase your chances of a successful business acquisition by conducting thorough research, tapping into existing market opportunities, considering financing options, choosing the right location, and following the steps outlined in this guide. Remember to seek professional guidance, understand legal and tax obligations, and plan for a smooth transition. With careful planning and execution, you can embark on a new entrepreneurial journey in Costa Rica with confidence and optimism.

-Written by Glenn Tellier (Founder of Grupo Gap)



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    Frequently Asked Questions


    Can you buy a business in Costa Rica?

    Yes, it is possible to buy a business in Costa Rica as a foreigner. However, following the country’s legal procedures and regulations for business acquisitions is important.

    Can US citizens own a business in Costa Rica?

    Yes, US citizens can own and operate a business in Costa Rica. There are no restrictions on foreign ownership, and the country welcomes foreign investment.

    How much does it cost to register a business in Costa Rica?

    The cost of registering a business in Costa Rica varies depending on the type of business entity and other factors. Generally, it can range from a few hundred to a few thousand US dollars.

    Is it worth investing in Costa Rica?

    Costa Rica has a stable economy, a favorable business environment, and a strong tourism industry. Many investors find investing in various sectors such as tourism, real estate, agriculture, and technology worthwhile.

    Does Costa Rica tax US income?

    Costa Rica does not tax income earned outside the country, including US income. However, if you become a tax resident of Costa Rica, you will be subject to taxation.

    Does Costa Rica tax foreign income?

    Costa Rica taxes its residents on their worldwide income, including foreign income. However, non-residents are generally only taxed on their Costa Rican-sourced income.

    How are businesses taxed in Costa Rica?

    Businesses in Costa Rica are subject to income tax, which is based on their net profits. The tax rates vary depending on the type of business and annual income.

    Can I own an Airbnb in Costa Rica?

    Yes, you can own and operate an Airbnb rental property in Costa Rica. However, it is important to comply with local regulations and obtain the necessary permits and licenses.

    Does buying property in Costa Rica give you residency?

    Buying property in Costa Rica does not automatically grant you residency. However, specific investment options, such as the “Rentista,” “Investor,” and “Pensionado” programs, can lead to residency when certain criteria are met.

    Can I live in Costa Rica on $2000 a month?

    The cost of living in Costa Rica varies depending on your lifestyle and location. While living on $2000 a month is possible, your expenses will depend on housing, healthcare, transportation, and personal preferences.

    How much USD do you need to retire in Costa Rica?

    The amount needed to retire in Costa Rica depends on individual circumstances and lifestyle choices. However, as a general guideline, experts recommend a monthly retirement income of around $1,500 to $2,500 to live comfortably.

    How much does the average person make in Costa Rica?

    The average income in Costa Rica varies across different sectors and regions. The average monthly salary in the country is around $800 to $1,200.

    What is the 13% tax in Costa Rica?

    The 13% tax in Costa Rica refers to the Value Added Tax (VAT), the Sales Tax (Impuesto de Ventas). It is levied on the sale of goods and services in the country.

    What are tax-free zones in Costa Rica?

    Tax-free zones, also known as Free Trade Zones or Free Trade Regimes, are designated areas where businesses can operate with certain tax benefits and incentives in Costa Rica. These zones aim to attract foreign investment and promote economic growth.

    Do you pay capital gains tax in Costa Rica?

    Yes, capital gains tax is applicable in Costa Rica. When you sell a property, asset, or investment that has increased in value, your profit from the sale is subject to capital gains tax. The tax rate for capital gains in Costa Rica varies depending on the asset type and ownership duration.



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