Costa Rica has many great attractions that bring in TEFL qualified teachers from all over the world, including a tropical climate, picturesque beaches, exotic wildlife, and pristine rainforests. However, before you book a plane ticket to this unique and beautiful country you should be aware of the visa situation for foreign workers.
What is the visa situation for foreign teachers in Costa Rica?
The visa situation in Costa Rica is somewhat different to most other popular TEFL destinations as it is technically legal for foreign teachers to work on a standard tourist visa. For most nationalities, including Americans, Canadians and Western Europeans, a 90-day visa is issued upon arrival at the airport. If you want to stay on in the country after this has expired you can simply hop across the nearest border and have a new one issued on your return into Costa Rica.
What do I need to do on arrival in Costa Rica?
Before you can actually teach legally you need to register for a tax number after you arrive in Costa Rica. Please note that it is best to avoid any mention of your intentions to teach when you pass through immigration at the airport, although it is unlikely that any questions will be asked unless you are carrying arms full of teaching manuals etc. By entering the country as a normal tourist you should have no trouble getting the standard entry visa, you can then get your teaching adventure underway as soon as you like.
What is the process for getting a tax number in Costa Rica?
In order to get the tax number that you need to start teaching, you need to register at the local government tax office known as the Tributacion. To make the application you will need to provide a copy of your passport and a proof of address for your current accommodation. It is not necessary to actually have a job in place before you make the application. Once you have received your tax number, you then need to print off some receipts which you hand over to your employer whenever you get paid. The starting tax threshold in Costa Rica is $8,000 per year, which means that most teachers pay little or no tax on their earnings. If you do find you earn more than this, it is common for the employer to be creative and allow you to avoid any high tax bills.