Titled & Concession Land in Costa Rica

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At RE/MAX Pura Vida we often get asked by clients to explain the types of land for purchase here in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. We decided to sit down with our legal counsel, Sergio Guido from Dextra Law, and get our customers a clear & brief explanation of the differences between the type most common types of land, titled and concession.

TITLED LAND (a.k.a. “Fee Simple”): The absolute legal recognized rights of possession & ownership of an estate in land and/or property.

– Titled land gives an owner(s) the most rights under Costa Rican law, no matter if you are a Costa Rican national or a foreigner. As a titled landowner you are free to sell, lease or improve your land at your own will, while within the legal limits and conditions defined in Costa Rican law.

– Individuals are free to own titled land in their family name(s), however most real estate lawyers encourage clients to create a corporation, such as a “Sociedad de Responsabilidad Limitada” or “Sociedad Anónima”, which is similar to that of an L.L.C. in North America.

– Typically, in the absence of a zoning plan, when purchasing titled land with direct access to the public road the owner is free to use/build 75% of the total area. The exact conditions, rights and limitations are defined in the properties certification that states the limitations for developing the property, known as the “Uso De Suelo”, the which is generally provided during due diligence and outlines the ability of land usage and specific zoning limits.

– Annual property taxes are determined by the Real Estate Tax Act in Costa Rica and are 0.25% of the fiscal registered value of the property for titled land.

CONCESSION LAND (such as Beachfront Property): The right to use & enjoy a specific land or property, located in Maritime Zone, by the government for a pre-determined period of time.

– Essentially a “lease” on a property, concession land is granted to a “leasee” for the pre-determined amount of time with the ability to renew concession if all rules & regulations have been complied with. Typically concession grants are for 20 years each period. Foreigner purchasers can acquire rights to concession land; however, there is a restriction for foreigners owning more than 50% of the shares of a corporation with concession rights.

– 95% of beachfront property throughout Costa Rica is considered concession land, which is measured by the first 200 meters horizontally from the high tide line.  Which the first 50 meters of that land is considered public and the remaining 150 meters is available as concession/restricted land.

– Upon obtaining the proper & approved permits from the local municipality, concession land leasee’s may build, subdivide and/or perform other acts on that property, depending on the zoning rights obtained and established restrictions on the zoning plan.

– Property taxes on concession land, known as a Canon in Costa Rica, is determined by the appraised value of the land as well as the type of land zoning and ranges between 2-5% annually.

RE/MAX Pura Vida strives to educate and inform all our clients on all areas of real estate, we hope this makes purchasing, and owning, a property in Costa Rica a smoother and easier process. Contact us today to learn more about investing in paradise!

About Sergio Guido: 

Sergio Guido has extensive experience in corporate and insurance law, as well as complex real estate matters both in concession and titled land. He counsels foreign and local investors in due diligence processes involving coastal zoning plans and environmental law.

With regards to corporate and insurance affairs, his practice includes insurance risk and claims management, resolution of coverage disputes and estate planning solutions. He advises institutions from the banking and private sector such as insurance companies and brokerage firms in terms of processes, compliance and reinsurance.

His experience in risk management and mitigation is complemented with his expertise in insurance litigation.

He graduated in law from the University of Costa Rica (2003), has an LLM degree with an emphasis on environmental insurance from Complutense University, Madrid (2005), a specialist qualification in Insurance Law Center for Financial Studies (CEF), Madrid (2007) and is currently a doctoral candidate at the Universidad Pontificia de Comillas (ICADE). He is a member of the Bar Association of Costa Rica and Notary Public




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