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Opening a Bank Account in Costa Rica

Written By: Gary on August 25, 2008 4 Comments

So I tried to open a bank account today. Why? Because bank access in the southern Nicoya peninsula is very limited and the one bank they do have never lets me use my ATM so I thought an account might be useful. I was just thinking a few hundred dollars for emergencies and then it would be established already or if I needed money wired here a bank account would be handy (I could wire it to myself from the US while I was here, I checked with my Michigan bank on this already). I had e-mailed the Costa Rican bank (Banco Nacional) a week or two ago about this, but never got a response.

So I waited and waited and then finally I got to to wait some more. Then I asked at a different desk, because if I don’t have what I need, I don’t need to be waiting and got a very helpful guy whose english was good enough for us to figure it out. Turns out I need

  • a passport,
  • a local address / phone,
  • a few letters of refererence from other banking institutions (these made me feel like I was living in older times); they said a hotel would do for the address/phone but some coordination would have to be done since they wanted proof (like a utility bill) but what I was asking for was not unheard of,
  • a minimum deposit was $10 (obviously for emergencies that was much less than I planned).

    So I’ll get some letters from the bank and be ready to take care of these when I need to.

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    4 Responses to “Opening a Bank Account in Costa Rica”

    1. fred says on: 5 September 2008 at 12:39 am

      I visited Costa Spring last spring and fell in love with the country. Quick question. Can someone US citizen open an bank account either online or over the phone?

      Thanks, Fred

    2. David says on: 27 October 2008 at 11:11 am

      One thing you might want to make sure is can your bank in Michigan deal with international wire transfers. When I moved to MI I had a credit union account at:
      but apparently because all of the Michigan credit unions have a central clearing house they just cannot do wire transfers right as the forms in other countries don’t allow for that many digits. So I went and opened a bank account at Independent Bank
      Though I am sure it would work equally as well at any bank.
      Enjoy Costa Rica.

    3. Gary Said... says on: 13 November 2008 at 5:42 pm

      I opened a bank account in Costa Rica

      This is trickier than it sounds. Imagine trying to open an account in the US without a Social Security card and without a mailing address… I got all my paperwork in order: They normally two letters of reference from banks that I normally do business …

    4. Marc B. says on: 29 August 2011 at 7:41 pm

      Hey, A buddy of mine and I are trying to move there for some time but we need to open an account while we are there. Should we get the letter of refrences before we go for our local banks?

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