Building on your land in Costa Rica, Land & Title

The buying process, Costa Rica real estate
Before you build, Land and Title

Before building it is extremely important to look into ownership rules and restrictions.  When you have land with a title, this is the easiest scenario for those looking to build on their property.  A piece of real estate registered and listed properly with the National Registry provides us with a simple and easy set of rules for building on Costa Rican land.  Due to the fact that there are legal and municipal systems in place to validate ownership and property rights, fully owned and titled lands are the ideal properties to build and improve on. 

Undeveloped agricultural and rural plots are often untitled lands.  Beach concessions are also untitled.  For an inexperienced Costa Rican real estate investor, untitled property investment is an arena to avoid.  Untitled land cannot be registered at the National Registry which is the primary provider for real estate investment security for foreign buyers.  It also serves as a guide showing us history of ownership and liens and encumbrances that may be involved with the land.  The only way to validate ownership of untitled land legally is through a long and complex legal proceeding called informacion posesoria or proof of possession.

This type of legal action can be taking if you have been in sole physical possession for over ten years before presenting it to the National Registry for registration or has purchased the rights from a previous owner who was in possession for over ten years.  For this proceeding to be effective, you must prove that this is the case through three or more neighbors who can sign off on the fact that you owned the property for this time period and can sign off on the boundaries of the real estate. 

If this land is designated for public use or has natural reserve or protected land status, it cannot be registered under any circumstances.  If the court cannot inspect the property, it cannot be registered.  If these conditions are satisfied however, a bulletin is posted in the official government news sheet to serve as public notification that a claim to the property has been made. 

If no counter claim is proposed, within the next three years, to the Registro, then the tentative land owner will win the case and the court orders a write to the National Registry and the land will be registered with the official owner.  This does not clear any land use rights.  Separate legal action must be taken to avoid being subject to further easements. 

Before you build on Costa Rican property, Land and Title, 

Max bitterman
VP of Sales


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Costa Rica

Thanks, I enjoyed your post immensely. It’s nice to see someone writing something worth reading.

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