Work for Foreigners

Voluntary work, language teaching and tourism

Work for Foreigners

Finding a job in Costa Rica as a foreigner is not at all easy. If you want to get work experience in Costa Rica, your best bet might be voluntary work or language teaching.

Voluntary work is available in a wide variety of fields, from medical internships to help building schools and houses. If you want to do voluntary work there are two main ways to find a position: through an aid-organisation or a specialised agency. Lists of aid-organisations and NGO’s can often be got from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of your home country. Specialised agencies often offer several services such as language courses, and frequently it is even the other way around, language schools offer voluntary work. However, finding voluntary work through agencies often means you will have to pay for it. If you want to do voluntary work, you must apply for a temporary visa. You can find more information about it in the section "Visas and Permits", under the title "Visas for students, teachers and volunteers".

Language schools and language teaching organisations are mainly aiming at teaching English all over the world. Depending on the organisation, you will get a wage or receive food and lodging in return. The most common language studied by Costa Ricans is English, although other languages such as French and German are becoming more popular. Several language schools interview you by telephone. Consider posting a message at the Language Forum to find out more about personal experiences in teaching languages in Costa Rica.

Tourism is a field where you are more likely to find a job. Try tour operators and travel organisations in your home country. Another option is to work in hotels, bars and other establishment in the hospitality industry. Though it might not be that hard to find a job if you look when you are in Costa Rica, make sure you work with the legal paperwork.


Increasing numbers of students decide to do internships in another country. Internships can be either a mandatory component to a course of study or an activity chosen by a student who wants to get international work experience. An internship is considered as work and you will have to go through the work permit application procedure.

Working illegally

If you want to work in Costa Rica you really need a work permit. Keep in mind that both you and your employer are breaking the law if you engage in work without the required permits.

Further reading

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Other comments

  • cj conrad, 03 September 2008 Reply

    Working without a Permit

    You can work legally if you are self employed. Any employer can hire you as a contracted professional. You are working for yourself in this manner.
    You are illegal if you are employed by a person or company. Self employed is a fine line but easy to arrange. You can ask for reciept for your contract.