Investing in Costa Rica’s Maritime Zone: A Strategic Overview

Costa Rica’s maritime land zone, governed by the principle of sovereignty as defined in international law, encompasses the 200-meter-wide strip along the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines. This area includes islands, islets, and maritime rocks, as well as any land or natural formation protruding from the ocean’s surface.

Within the maritime land zone, there are two distinct sections: the public zone, a 50-meter-wide strip from the ordinary high-water mark, and the restricted zone, constituting the remaining 150 meters. Properties within this zone belong to the Costa Rican government, making private disposal or sale by individuals prohibited. While the public zone is open for public use, the restricted areas can be subject to concessions for specific uses, such as hotel projects, residential housing, restaurants, etc. provided they comply with legal requirements and municipal regulations.

Investing in the Maritime Land Zone: Challenges and Opportunities

Investing in properties within the maritime land zone requires careful consideration and adherence to Costa Rican law. The properties within this zone are subject to special regulations and cannot be traded or commercially transacted in the usual manner. Any exploitation, such as developing hotel projects, requires authorization from the relevant regulatory authorities, such as the Ministry of Environment and Energy, Costa Rican Tourism Institute, and the respective municipality.

To obtain a concession within this zone, formal and material requirements stipulated by laws, regulations, and guidelines must be met. This process includes submitting applications to the Ministry of Environment and Energy, Costa Rican Tourism Institute, and the relevant municipality. Once the application is approved, necessary documents are submitted, and the corresponding fee is paid.

Navigating Legal Complexities: Expert Guidance

Engaging in real estate investments within the maritime land zone demands a thorough understanding of legal intricacies. A successful investment hinges on collaborative efforts with a professional interdisciplinary team. Across Borders Realty offers expert guidance and support, ensuring clients receive valuable information to make informed investment decisions.

Challenges in the Current Legal Framework

Costa Rica’s Law on Maritime Land Zone, enacted in 1977, imposes strict restrictions on the transfer of concessions to foreign individuals or entities. Transfers to foreign individuals or companies with more than 50% foreign ownership are deemed null and void. The competent authorities overseeing adherence to these regulations are primarily the municipalities with jurisdiction over the maritime land zone and the Costa Rican Tourism Institute. They verify compliance with the ownership requirements of concessions, with certifications of legal personality and shareholder registration being essential documentation.

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Written by Edward Gudeman, Attorney and Notary

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