[Originally written by Paul Tiffer in 2008, he has recently updated the information. It was posted in a forum but I have moved it here to a book page, made some quick cleanups and added the URL alias http://www.nicaliving.com/residency to make it easier to find. I will add other, more specific pages related to this below this page to make them all easier to find.]
Hello Nicaliving Readers:
Nicaragua is receiving more and more people who want to live here for several reasons. One of the most important steps to live in any country is to be legal and that means obtaining Residency. Getting residency can be hard for many people, and lack of information is one of the reasons. The Immigration Deparment and Agents can be hard to deal with and to understand as well
. It is important to know there are several ways to apply and get Nicaraguan residency, some of them are:
- As Investor – http://www.nicaliving.com/node/20637 According to the law, any Foreign Investor can apply if they run a business, Incorporate a Corporation and invest in Nicaragua with over $ 30,000.00 in any kind of business (tourism, real estate, farms, energy, mining, communication, importation, education, fishing, natural resources, transportation etc.), You must follow several steps and an appraiser from the government must confirm the investment, visiting the property & company. The approval from the government (Ministry of Development, Industry and Commerce) is an extraordinary support in order to obtain a five years Residency as a Foreign Investor. The approval will cover the shareholders or Investor; in Nicaragua Corporation requires as minimum 2 members; and also it will cover the family of the investors. Please be aware applicants from the People´s Republic of China must follow a thoroughness process and additional steps are required.
- As a Retiree or Rentier: http://www.nicaliving.com/node/15617 The allows one the right to apply for Residency to a Nicaraguan or foreigner who receives a pension from Abroad of over $ 600 per month, i.e.: pension from US Social Security. The same right is offered to anybody who has private income – Rentier – of over $ 750 coming from investments like: stocks, bonus, or any other kind of revenue.
There are several benefits. The most important are:
- Residency for five years in Nicaragua;
- Tax exemption to import household goods valuated in $ 20,000 tax free, and
- import a vehicle valuated in $ 25,000 CIF; the vehicle could be bought locally – a brand new – and the exemption will cover up to $25,000. Be aware that the legal status of a vehicle will be verified, so this process can take 3 months or more.
- As a worker. The Company must support the application and submit copies of the legal documents in Nicaragua. Usually Immigration give a provisional residency for one year.
- NGO´s Missioner. The NGO must support the application and submit copies of the legal documents in Nicaragua. Usually Immigration give a provisional residency for one year.
- Spouse of a Nicaraguan citizen.
In all of these cases, the applicant must prove their status and submit supporting documentation, as well as the general documents:
- Birth Certificate
- Police Record
- Health Certificate
- Copies of the Articles of Incorporation for Investors
- Pension letter for Retirees
- Marriage Certificate for Spouse
Those documents must be from the applicant's country and must be authenticated by the Nicaraguan Consulate in the country where the documents were issued. This is required for Canadians, and because there are no Nicaraguan consulates in Canada, the documents must be authenticated in Canada and sent to the Washington consulate of Nicaragua. (In some cases the documents can be legalized in the Canadian Consulate in Managua. It is better confirm it in advance.)
Since May 14th 2013 Nicaragua will acept Apostille according the Hague Convention:
For USA citizens the agency in charge to Apostille is NAAS: http://www.nass.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=262&Ite...
Documents must be translated into Spanish with a Nicaraguan Notary or for a translator in their country, to be submitted to Immigration. It is imperative to know that it Is no possible to submit documents issued in Nicaragua (especially the police record) even if the applicant has been living in Nicaragua for several years. The applicant is considered tourist and not resident. Finally, no one can submit any document to Immigration or any other government offices without the proper authentication.
IMMIGRATION doesn´t accept the file Apostille in a Bundle, it must be Apostille each document in the back part of the document or any extension.-
Be aware Police Record and Health Certificate have an expiration time. According Immigration, they will only accept a document up to 5 months after the day it was issued - not authenticated or notarized - if the application is as retiree applying through INTUR – Tourism board. Otherwise, no more than 6 months after the issue date if it is in any other way listed above.
Finally regarding the expiration of the documents: Once the documents have been accepted. Unfortunately, neither INTUR nor Immigration will accept an incomplete file so all documents must be within the allowed lifetime when submitted together.
Kinds of residency:
There are two kinds of residencies: provisional for 1 year and permanent for 5 years. Some residencies include the right to work in Nicaragua. Retiree and rentier residencies do not allow the resident to work in the country.
It is not easy to state how long it will take to obtain residency. Each case is different from another, but a general idea will be:
- As Investor, the Incorporation of a Corporation can take around 3 – 4 weeks, the inspection 2 - 3 weeks and 1 week for the report and certification (usually). With the certification the applicant must submit the rest of his documents – police, birth and health certificates. As for that Immigration have between 45 – 60 days to give the Residency Card. I would say with the whole documents authenticated 3 – 6 months.
- As Retiree or Rentier, according the law INTUR and Immigration Department will have a Committee meeting once per moth, however they are currently doing the meeting every two months or more; as for that with the Approval´s certification issued by INTUR, Immigration has 45 – 60 days to print the Residency Card. With the INTUR certification the applicant can Import the household goods and the vehicle ( my advice and the shipping company is do not import anything without the certification to avoid fines and penalties for storage in Nicaragua, some people has been waiting 2 or 3 months with their belongings in Custom Department). I would say with the whole documents authenticated 3 – 6 months.-
- As Foreign Investor Immigration charges C$ 6,400 (Cordobas). MIFIC doesn´t charge for the inspection, however the investor must pay the whole transportation and lodging or accommodations if applicable.
- As Retiree or Rentier Immigration charges C$ 5,900.
It is a crime to offer any tip or bribe, so don´t even think about it. INTUR and Immigration agents are very professional.
The comment above is based in my expertise, the law and the internal rules of application can change. Actually Immigration changed some some recently. For example, the procedure for ex-law enforcement agents or ex-military force members. (They are very welcome, but must be patient.) This is also true for people from the People's Republic of China and some other countries. So the key is to apply with plenty of time.
Paul Tiffer R.
Attorney at law