Costa Rica Building Permit Process Step By Step
Costa Rica Building Permit Process Step by Step: To build a residence in Costa Rica, there’s a general three-stage process that everyone must follow: Hire an architect or civil engineer registered and licensed by the College of Engineers and Architects of Costa Rica (CFIA). This is the professional who will prepare your home construction plans. Complete the building permit process. Proceed with construction of your home. This stage must include a licensed professional that will follow-up the technical direction of the construction plans.


Before obtaining your residential building permit, due diligence is essential during the design plan phase in gathering a variety of documents. Be sure to allow adequate time to compile them. The architect or engineer in charge of the project should assist you with the details as follows.

  • Land use permit (uso de suelo) from the municipality indicates certified zoning and any applicable restrictions on property usage.
  • Municipal setbacks certification ensures you are fully aware of restricted areas on your property.
  • Water certification letter, issued by the the public utility AyA (or ASADA for rural aqueducts), assures water is available on the site you wish to develop, and advises of any improvements that may be required.
  • Electrical availability letter, issued by the electric company servicing the building site, ensures there is a utility service nearby and advises of any improvements that may be required for your construction.
  • Environmental permit may be necessary depending on the size of your residence.

Other specific municipal compliance requirements may also apply. Be sure to research carefully and ensure they are met before you are ready to apply for your residential building permit.


Two procedures must be completed to obtain your residential building permit

1. Obtain digital approval from the CFIA using APC (electronic project administration) system— 24 hours 

You have to upload the following items to the APC platform:

  • Approval by the licensed architect or civil engineer managing your building project AND by a licensed electrical engineer. APC assesses the construction value as the basis for calculating your building permit fees.
  • A recorded plot map from the National Registry.
  • The original water availability letter from AyA or the ASADA.
  • Soil Infiltration test results for sanitary drainage.
  • Payment for the construction stamps associated with APC platform usage and the legal logbook that will be used during construction.
  • Other requirements may apply based on the specifications of the building itself.

2. Municipal Approval — minimum 
           30 days

In many municipalities, this process may be completed through the same APC system. Otherwise, it must be done in person by presenting these documents to the municipal engineering department:

  • Certification that municipal property tax payments are up to date.
  • Certification from the local Costa Rican Social Security agency (CCSS) office that you are up to date with any payments due. If you do not have any current affiliation with CCSS, you must provide certification that there are no debts.

Once the municipality receives the documentation, it will issue a form that will allow you to process the mandatory insurance coverage for the workers building your property in the event of an accident. Once completed, this form must be submitted to the National Insurance Institute (INS) with payment of the policy amount (approximately 1.17 percent of the assessed value of construction work). Certification of payment must be presented back to the municipality before it issues your final permit.

Your final step is to pay the building permit fee — 1 percent of the APC-assessed value of construction — and then finally you obtain the building permit number.

Now, you are ready to post the permit in a visible location on the site and start building your new home!

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Article originally posted on November 29, 2018 on

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