*This article is an edited and improved version of an article I posted years ago in The Nicaragua Dispatch. – Paul Tiffer R., Attorney at Law
Nicaragua is receiving more and more foreigners who want to live here for a variety of reasons. For expats, one of the most important steps for moving to Nicaragua is learning how to apply for residency first, to be legal in the country.
Some people have been living in Nicaragua as “tourists” for years and just cross the border to Costa Rica from time to time to obtain extensions of their Tourist Visa. However, Immigration authorities are eager to end this practice and wish to have foreigners obtain residency.
According to Immigration Law (law 761) there are two kinds of residencies:
Permanent: Which is granted for five years. Retirees, Rentiers and Foreign Investor receive this kind of residency. Those who receive it are not required to make a deposit equivalent to a one way ticket to return to their countries.
Provisional: It is granted for one year and for those who receive it is mandatory to make a deposit equivalent to a one way ticket to return to the country of origin. Businessman, workers, missionaries and spouses receive this kind of residency.
The law states there are different ways to apply for residency or sub categories, I will refer to the most common:
1. Residency as Foreign Investor:
Foreign investors can apply for residency if applicants run a business, incorporate a corporation and invest at least $30,000 in Nicaragua in any sector or economic activity.
It is imperative to follow several steps and a Government Appraiser the Ministry of Development, Industry and Commerce (MIFIC) will confirm the investment by visiting the place where the investment is. Once MIFIC grants an endorsement’s certification for the business, the applicant will be able to apply for a five-year.
The endorsement would cover the shareholders or investor; and the investor’s family members.
Foreign Investments – for residency purposes in Nicaragua – is when foreigners invest their money in properties or goods for business.
A house for vacations is not consider Foreign Investment, unless this house is used for business/rent and is handled by a Corporation.
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2. Residency as Businessman:
This option can be considered when applicants cannot invest more than $30,000 stated above. Some companies do not need to invest so much money. A Real Estate Agency for example.
In that case, according the law to obtain the ID of the DGI (Nicaraguan tax and Revenue Office) foreigners have to run a business through a Corporation or Sociedad Anónima.
Applicants receive a Provisional Residency per one year.
3. Residency as a Retiree:
A retiree according the law 694 is a person who receive from abroad a monthly pension from the government (social security administration or any other agency) or from a private company. The monthly pension has to be over $ 600 per month.
4. Residency as Rentier:
Rentier is a person living on income from property or investments. The law states the applicant has to receive $ 750 as a minimum per month. Salaries do not apply in any either cases.
Savings in banks do not apply, unless the applicant receives from his/her bank a letter confirming monthly installments for five years to the owner.
Both sub categories – Retirees and Rentiers – have the same benefits.
The Law “694” states that the minimum age is 45 years old to apply as Retiree or Rentier. There is an exception only for people with a disability pension.
Retirees and Rentiers are not allowed to work in the country.
For further information CLICK HERE.
5. Residency as Employee:
Some companies hire foreigners to work, especially for upper management positions. In that case the company has to provide all legal documents to the application and sign a labor contract with the employee.
The labor contract has to be certified by the Labor Ministry of Nicaragua.
6. Residency as Missionary.
The Immigration law considers missionaries to those who work for a domestic NGO or a foreign NGO, in that case the NGO has to be duly register at Ministerio de Gobernación de Nicaragua (MIGOB). For that purpose, the NGO has to endorse the application and provide all the legal documents – copies – from the organization.
7. Residency as Spouse:
To be able to apply for residency as spouse it is mandatory to prove the foreigner has been married to a Nicaraguan for at least two years or longer at the time of the application. The applicant has to show proof of income; it could be:
The Nicaraguan spouse supports the applicant; in that case the Nicaraguan spouse has to have a job.
The foreigner has a job or business in Nicaragua. In that case he/she has to prove and provide legal documentation of it.
In all cases, the applicants for residency have to be in Nicaragua to submit the application. When they apply, they must provide the following documentation:
1. Birth Certificate.
2. Police Record.
3. Health Certificate.
4. Copies of the Article of Incorporation of the company. (for Foreign Investors)
5. Pension letter (for retirees).
6. Private Income source (for renter).
7. Marriage Certificate. (When applies)
Number 2 and 3 are accepted from the country of origin or can be obtained in Nicaragua. The INTERPOL Certificate is granted in Managua at the INTERPOL Office and the Health Certificate has to be obtained from a public clinic of the government named: “Centro de Salud”.
Documents from the applicant’s country, as birth certificate, have to be legalized first in the country of origin. There are two options:
Apostille, it works for those countries members of The Hague Convention for Public Documents, as USA and Europe.
Authentication, it is mandatory for those countries who are not members of The Hague Convention for Public Documents, as CANADA.
Since there are not Nicaraguan consulates in Canada, Canadians have to authenticate their documents in Canada first – Usually at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada in Ottawa – and then send it to a Nicaraguan Consulate in USA, my advice is to send it to the Nicaraguan Consulate in Washington, D.C.
For further information for Canadians, CLICK HERE.
Once documents are legalized it is mandatory to be translated into Spanish.
It’s also worth noting that police records and health certificates have an expiration date, depending where are issued.
In all the cases or sub categories, an Immigration agent will visit the applicant in his/her house and will interview to some neighbors.
Freelance workers do not qualify for residency, the law do not state this option.
To be able to apply for citizenship is mandatory to be resident first, for four years as minimum. The applicants have to follow a new process. It is not automatic and Nicaragua has the right to deny it.
In Nicaragua, there is no citizenship for investment.
For Foreign Investors, Immigration charges C$ 6,400 (Córdobas).
For Retirees and Rentiers, Immigration charges C$ 5,900 (Córdobas).
For Provisional Residencies, the cost is C$ 3,900 (Córdobas).
It is illegal to offer any tips or bribes to immigration agents.
If you would like to apply for residency, or information regarding other important legal matter, you can contact me at: email@example.com
This article is based in my expertise, working on this topic since 1999. Law and the internal rules of application are subject to change.
Attorney at law