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Costa Rica – Banking

Local Banks in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has several local banks that provide a wide range of banking services to their customers. These banks include:

International Banks in Costa Rica

Major UK and USA banks have a significant presence in Costa Rica. These banks include:

Accounts and Services for Expats

Several banks in Costa Rica offer accounts and services specifically aimed at expats. Some of the banks that offer these services include:

  • Scotiabank Costa Rica – The bank offers a Global Account that includes a no-annual-fee account, international money transfers, and free ATM withdrawals worldwide.
  • Banco de Costa Rica – The bank offers a Resident Account for expats with a permanent or temporary residency in Costa Rica. This account includes a debit card and online banking.

Typical Bank Opening Hours

The typical bank opening hours in Costa Rica are from 9:00 AM to 3:45 PM, Monday to Friday.

Areas of Concern for Expats

Expats should be aware of the following areas of concern regarding the banking system in Costa Rica:

  • Fees – Banks in Costa Rica charge fees for many banking services, including ATM withdrawals, wire transfers, and account maintenance. Expats should compare the fees of different banks before choosing a bank.
  • Identification – When opening a bank account in Costa Rica, expats must provide valid identification documents such as a passport or cedula (Costa Rican ID).
  • Language Barrier – Most bank employees in Costa Rica speak Spanish, and expats who do not speak the language may find it challenging to communicate with their bank.
  • Security – Costa Rica has a high crime rate, and expats should take necessary precautions when using ATMs or accessing online banking.

Opening a Bank Account

If you are an expat looking to open a bank account in Costa Rica, follow these steps:


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  1. Choose a Bank – Research the different banks in Costa Rica and compare their services and fees. Choose a bank that meets your needs.
  2. Gather Required Documents – You will need to provide identification documents such as a passport or cedula. You may also need to provide proof of address such as a utility bill or rental agreement.
  3. Apply for an Account – You can apply for an account online or in person at a branch. Follow the bank’s instructions and provide all required information.
  4. Fund Your Account – Once your account is opened, you can fund it by transferring money from your home country or depositing cash or cheques at a branch.
  5. Activate Your Account – You may need to activate your account by making a deposit or using your debit card for the first time.

In conclusion, Costa Rica has several local and international banks that provide a wide range of banking services. Expats can benefit from accounts and services specifically aimed at them. However, they should be aware of the fees, identification requirements, language barrier, and security issues when banking in Costa Rica. If you are an expat looking to open a bank account, follow the steps outlined above to make the process easier.


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