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I'm in the middle of trying to get my residency.  I've been fingerprinted by immigation.  All they need is my s.s. letter which I brought in they won't except it because its not apostle.  I don't know how to get that done..  Also, I would like to open a bank account  not sure how to get that accomplished. I wanted to get a bank in San Isidro Perez Zeldon will they transfer money from the states automatically from an American bank or do I need to something else. I appreciate anyones input. Kim

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In my experience there is no such thing here as automatic bank transfers between a US bank and a Costa RIcan one. You have to do that via wire transfer and there is a rather significant charge each time.  Check with your US bank so see what their procedure is. 

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Kim, we got all our documents apostilled in the States before we left.  I don't know if you can even do it here.  The Embassy might be able to do that, but I don't know.  You'd have to call them.  Also, we got our wire transfers set up before we left, too.  We had to do that in the States with our bank.  They sent us PIN numbers in the mail.  My best advice to you is to consult with ARCR as far as residency.  We used ARCR to get our residency, and I used them to help me get my CR driver's license.  In my opinion, it was money well spent.  I would call your U.S. bank to see if you can set up wire transfers from here, but I am thinking you probably will have to return to the States to do that.

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Hi Kim,

I chose to maintain a checking account in the US (where my SSA pension was deposited) when I went to CR.  I eventually opened an account at Banco Nacional (BN) and after six months I was allowed to deposit personal checks from my US bank (credit union, actually) in my BN account.  In the beginning there was a 3-week float before the funds were released to me so I just deposited it far enough ahead of time that the money would become availabe to me at the time I needed to use it.

After about three months I went in to the Plataforma in BN and spoke to a customer service person at that desk about shortening the float time.  He went into the back and after about 20 minutes came back out and told me that my checks would now clear in ten days.  After that my checks were clearing in 5 to 7 days.

I was told that I could deposit up to US $900 per month via my personal check with no charges or fees assessed.  Over that cumulative $900 amount per month there would have been a deposit fee of around US$40.  I never deposited more than US$700 per month and could retrieve my monies using my International BN Servibanca Debitcard which BN issued to me per my request at the time I set up my account.  (BTW - You will absolutely wantto specify that you want an International, not Domestic Servibank Debitcard if you decide to go the BN/personal check route.  That's because the domestic card can only be used for things purchased inside Costa Rica.)

As far as needing an apostilled SSA statement of earnings, you can get one in spanish by making an appointment (by email) with the US Embassy in Pavas.  The SS Desk will issue you a letter on official SS letterhead, in spanish.  That will be suitable for La Migra, especially if you were to go to the primary office in La Uruca.  I pointed out (very nicely of course) to La Migra that the letter was issued by the US Govt on the official US letterhead which made it as official as humanly possible so that it did not need to be apostilled and they finally accepted the letter as true and official without me having to arrange for an apostille.  BTW, you can have the SS letter apostilled at the Embassy but they charge US$50 to do that.

OK – HTH

Paul  M.
==

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Yes, the first account we opened we were restricted to $1000/month.  The second account, $1500.  But before our residency applications were approved (and I'm talking 1 1/2 years), we were allowed to up the ante to $5000/month.  So we didn't have our cedulas yet. 

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Kim, in order to open a bank account, regardless of your tourist or residency status, you will have to document your identity either with your passport or your cedula (if you're a resident) and you will have to document the source of your income. The bank might accept your Social Security letter, but we have always provided them two years of our U.S. federal income tax returns. They'll also want to know your residence address here in Costa Rica, your local phone number (your cell number will suffice) and your email address. 

Banks may differ in terms of their policies for deposits both initially and after your account has been open for a while. If that's an issue for you, you might want to shop around. We have found Banco Davivienda the easiest to work with and their policies and practices have been the easiest to comply with. Your mileage may vary.

 

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Think about where you are going to live and what banks are in that area.  To reference David Murray's statement about Banco Davivienda, if they have no branches near you, it would make no sense (in my humble opinion) to open an account with them.  Our former neighbor didn't like the long lines at our local bank, so he joined another bank 45 minutes away.  I am not willing to drive that far to conduct business with a bank unless I absolutely have to.

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You're absolutely right, seaturtlewoman, about the accessibility of local bank branches, but there is another way to look at the matter.

For example, Banco Nacional in Grecia is renowned for its long lines and thus long waits at both the teller windows and at the service desks. Their branch in Sarchi, about ten minutes or so away, is almost never busy. And and the Sarchi branch has a parking lot which the Grecia branch does not. So the question may really boil down to where one prefers to spend one's time. Standing in line in the nearest branch may have it's allure, but for us, we'd prefer to get our business done and move on to more enjoyable pastimes. Given the choice, I'd rather go have blood drawn than stand in line at the bank. 

 

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Hmmm...  I think I'd rather stand in line than have blood drawn!  But then again, they took out all the chairs at our branch, so I may reconsider!  Well, they still have chairs if you're waiting for the platforma.   We don't usually have urgent business to conduct, so if there's a long line, in most cases we can return another day.  The same goes for the post office.  Some days there's nobody in line, and other days, I turn around and leave.  One place I never mind waiting is the bakery!!

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