Buying Land

Building in Costa Rica

Buying Land

Before you buy a property, investigate what land use requirements it is subject to. In Costa Rica only licensed architects and engineers can present building applications. This section will get you started on the building process.

The first thing you should do before buying property is investigate what it may be used for and if there are any outstanding monetary issues. You can either investigate this yourself or make use of a professional. The following institutions should be contacted:

  • Ministry of Agriculture and Cattle (Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganardería, MAG)
  •  National Institute of Housing and Development (Instituto Nacional de Vivienda y Urbanismo, INVU)
  •  Ministry of Health (Ministerio de la Salud)
  •  Ministry of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications (Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones)
  •  Ministry of Housing and Human Resources (Ministerio de Vivienda y Asentamientos Humanos, MIVAH)
  •  Water and Sewage Authority (Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados, AyA)
  •  Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes, MOPT)
  •  Institute of Farming Development (Instituto de Desarrollo Agrícola, IDA)
  •  The municipality the property is located at

Costa Rican law states that any building application has to be presented by a licensed architect or engineer. If you want to build it is therefore recommended that you find a good architect or civil engineer to help you with all the bureaucratic procedures. Finding an architect or engineer is not that hard. Costa Rican law requires that certain professions register with professional associations in their field. Architects and engineers are all registered with the Costa Rican Association of Architects and Engineers, El Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y Arquitectos – CFIA ( ). Fee schedules of what may be charged by architects and engineers are issued by the association.

Construction permits can be applied for at the Oficina Receptora de Permisos de Construcción or Permit Reception Office. In general the following documentation has to be submitted when making an application:

  • Construction plans in fourfold
  • Property cadastre plot plan in fourfold ( Plano Catastrado)
  • Permit checklist in fourfold ( Hoja de Comisión)
  • Copy of Escritura in twofold ( Escritura)
  • Copy of contract with architect or engineer ( Contrato de Consultoría)
  • Approval of water company AYA
  • Copy of electrical design plan approved by SNE
  • For each construction plan there are additional requirements.

In addition you also need to apply for a building permit at the municipality the property is located at.

Further reading

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