How to Apply for Residency in Nicaragua
*This article is an edited and improved version of an article I posted years ago in The Nicaragua Dispatch. - Paul Tiffer R., Attorney at Law
Nicaragua is receiving more and more foreigners who want to live here for a variety of reasons. For ex-pats, one of the most important steps for moving to Nicaragua is learning how to apply for residency first, to be legal in the country.
Some people have been living in Nicaragua as “tourists” for years and just cross the border to Costa Rica from time to time to obtain extensions of their Tourist Visa. However, Immigration authorities are eager to end this practice and wish to have foreigners obtain residency.
According to Immigration Law (law 761) there are two kinds of residencies:
Permanent: Which is granted for five years. Retirees, Rentiers, and Foreign Investor receive this kind of residency. Those who receive it are not required to make a deposit equivalent to a one-way ticket to return to their countries.
Provisional: It is granted for one year and for those who receive it is mandatory to make a deposit equivalent to a one-way ticket to return to the country of origin. Businessmen, workers, missionaries, and spouses receive this kind of residency.
The law states there are different ways to apply for residency or subcategories, I will refer to the most common:
1. Residency as Foreign Investor:
Foreign investors can apply for residency if applicants run a business, incorporate a corporation, and invest at least $30,000 in Nicaragua in any sector or economic activity.
It is imperative to follow several steps and a Government Appraiser the Ministry of Development, Industry, and Commerce (MIFIC) will confirm the investment by visiting the place where the investment is. Once MIFIC grants an endorsement’s certification for the business, the applicant will be able to apply for a five-year.
The endorsement would cover the shareholders or investor, and the investor’s family members.
Foreign Investments - for residency purposes in Nicaragua – is when foreigners invest their money in properties or goods for business.
A house for vacations is not considered Foreign Investment unless this house is used for business/rent and is handled by a Corporation.
For further information CLICK HERE:
2. Residency as Businessman:
This option can be considered when applicants cannot invest more than $30,000 stated above. Some companies do not need to invest so much money. A Real Estate Agency for example.
In that case, according to the law to obtain the ID of the DGI (Nicaraguan tax and Revenue Office) foreigners must run a business through a Corporation or Sociedad Anónima.
Applicants receive a Provisional Residency per one year.
3. Residency as a Retiree:
A retiree according to the law 694 is a person who receives from abroad a monthly pension from the government (social security administration or any other agency) or from a private company. The monthly pension must be over $ 1,000.00 per month.
4. Residency as Rentier:
Rentier is a person living on income from property or investments. The law states the applicant must receive $ 1,250.00 as a minimum per month. Salaries do not apply in any either case.
Savings in banks do not apply unless the applicant receives from his/her bank a letter confirming monthly installments for five years to the owner.
Both subcategories – Retirees and Rentiers - have the same benefits.
The Law “694” states that the minimum age is 45 years old to apply as Retiree or Rentier. There is an exception only for people with a disability pension.
Retirees and Rentiers are not allowed to work in the country.
For further information CLICK HERE.
5. Residency as Employee:
Some companies hire foreigners to work, especially for upper management positions. In that case, the company must provide all legal documents to the application and sign a labor contract with the employee.
The labor contract must be certified by the Labor Ministry of Nicaragua.
6. Residency as Missionary.
The Immigration law considers missionaries to those who work for a domestic NGO or a foreign NGO, in that case, the NGO must duly register at Ministerio de Gobernación de Nicaragua (MIGOB). For that purpose, the NGO must endorse the application and provide all the legal documents – copies - from the organization.
7. Residency as Spouse:
To be able to apply for residency as a spouse it is mandatory to prove the foreigner has been married to a Nicaraguan for at least two years or longer at the time of the application. The applicant must show proof of income; it could be:
The Nicaraguan spouse supports the applicant; in that case, the Nicaraguan spouse must have a job.
The foreigner has a job or business in Nicaragua. In that case, he/she has to prove and provide legal documentation of it.
In all cases, the applicants for residency must be in Nicaragua to submit the application. When they apply, they must provide the following documentation:
1. Birth Certificate. 2. Police Record. 3. Health Certificate. 4. Copies of the Article of Incorporation of the company. (for Foreign Investors) 5. Pension letter (for retirees). 6. Private Income source (for renter). 7. Marriage Certificate. (When applies)
Number 3 is accepted from the country of origin or can be obtained in Nicaragua, in a public clinic of the government named: “Centro de Salud”.
Documents from the applicant's country, like a birth certificate, must be legalized first in the country of origin. There are two options:
Apostille, it works for those countries’ members of The Hague Convention for Public Documents, like the USA, Europe, and South Africa.
Authentication, it is mandatory for those countries who are not members of The Hague Convention for Public Documents, as CANADA.
Since there are not Nicaraguan consulates in Canada, Canadians have to authenticate their documents in Canada first – Usually at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada in Ottawa - and then send it to a Nicaraguan Consulate in USA, my advice is to send it to the Nicaraguan Consulate in Washington, D.C.
For further information for Canadians, CLICK HERE.
Once documents are legalized it is mandatory to be translated into Spanish. It’s also worth noting that police records and health certificates have an expiration date, depending on where are issued.
In all the cases or subcategories, an Immigration agent will visit the applicant in his/her house and will interview to some neighbors.
Freelance workers do not qualify for residency, the law does not state this option.
To be able to apply for citizenship is mandatory to be resident first, for four years as a minimum. The applicants must follow a new process. It is not automatic, and Nicaragua has the right to deny it.
In Nicaragua, there is no citizenship for investment.
For Foreign Investors and Retirees $ 500 Immigration charges For Provisional Residencies, the cost is $ 250.00 since 2020.
It is illegal to offer any tips or bribes to immigration agents.
If you would like to apply for residency or information regarding other important legal matter, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article is based on my expertise, working on this topic since 1999. Law and the internal rules of application are subject to change.
Paul Tiffer Attorney at law