How to apply for residency

Home Forums How to apply for residency in Nicaragua How to apply for residency

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    Paul Tiffer
    Paul Tiffer

    Nicaragua is receiving more and more foreigners who want to live here for a variety of reasons. For aspiring expats, one of the most important steps to moving abroad is learning how to do so legally, and that means applying for residency.

    One of the most important details is nowadays is mandatory to be in Nicaragua to apply for residency. As part of the procedure an Immigration agent will visit the applicant at the address he/she will states at the application form.

    Applying for residency in Nicaragua can be difficult for many people due to lack of information or confusion over the application process. Immigration officials can be hard to deal with and difficult to understand if Spanish is not your first language.

    It is imperative to know that there are several ways to apply for and obtain residency. They are:

    Foreign Investor. According the law, any foreign investor can apply for residency if he or she runs a business, is forming a corporation and will invest at least $30,000 in Nicaragua in any sector (tourism, real estate, agriculture, energy, mining, communication, importation, education, fishing, natural resources, transportation etc.).

    An appraiser from the government must confirm the investment by visiting both the property and company. Once the government’s Ministry of Development, Industry and Commerce (MIFIC) approves your business, you can apply for a five-year residency as a Foreign Investor. The approval will cover the shareholders or investor (Nicaragua Corporations require a minimum of 2 members). The foreign investor residency also extends to the investor’s family members.

    Business man. This kind of residency is Provisional for one year and it is possible to renewal every year, it will be mandatory to incorporate a Corporation or “Sociedad Anónima” as in the step above, is for anybody how runs a business, and it doesn’t invest yet, $30,000 in Nicaragua in any sector. This is a excellent opportunity or option for:

    a) People who move to Nicaragua and brings his/her documents ready to submit the residency application and doesn´t want to come back home to obtain again the police record.

    b) People who is searching deeply in which are will invest or is in the process to buy a property and waiting to be registered in his name.

    c) Freelancer or people who is going to do business but not invest more than $ 30,000, for example, representation´s companies, or companies who do business online, etc.

    Pensioner or Renteirs: This category is for people who receive a pension from abroad of more than $600 per months. A rentista is anybody who has a private income of more than $750 coming from investments such as stocks, bonus, or any kind of revenue. Salaries do not apply.

    There are several benefits for this category. The most important are: Residency for five years; Tax exemption to import household goods valuated at $20,000 and tax-free import of a vehicle valuated at $25,000 CIF (the vehicle can also be bought locally in Nicaragua and the tax exemption will still apply).

    Employee. A company can support the residency application of its employees by submitting copies of its legal documents in Nicaragua. For employees, Immigration usually grants a provisional residency for one year. Upon the third renewal, it can be extended to five years.

    NGO, Missionary. The NGO must support the application and submit copies of the legal documents in Nicaragua. For missionaries and NGO workers, Immigration usually grants a provisional residency for one year.

    Spouse. Foreigners married to a Nicaraguan can also apply for residency by providing a marriage certificate.

    In all cases, the applicants for residency must provide the following supporting documentation:

    1. Birth Certificate

    2. Police Record

    3. Health Certificate

    4. Copies of the Article of Incorporation (for investors)

    5. Pension letter (for retirees)

    6. Marriage Certificate (for spouses)

    All documents must be from the applicant’s country of birth and must be legalized it, for countries member of the Hague Convention for Public Documents it must be APOSTILLE, If someone have been living as resident (legally) in any other country, the Police and health certificate will be accepted from this country, but birth it will be from his/her country of origin. It is very common to hear “I have been living eight years abroad and I don´t have plans to go to my country …”.

    For those people who will apply as Pensioner or Renteirs and were born in a different country and were naturalize in any other they must bring birth certificate and copy of the naturalization certificate. Example an American who was born in Italy, and was naturalized in USA, he will need to bring both documents. Nicaraguan law doesn’t accept as prove of citizenship the passport, it is state at law 694.

    Because USA is member of the Convention, so documents must be Apostille by the Secretary of State of the State it were issued, sometimes people has documents from two different States, it must be send the each Secretary of State, i.e.: Birth Certificate from Seattle, Washington and Police & Health Certificate from Jacksonville, Florida. The Birth certificate from Washington’s Secretary of State and the others by the Florida Secretary of State.

    For non-member countries of the Hague Convention for Public Documents authenticated by the Foreign Affair Ministry and the nearest Nicaraguan Consulate in the country where the documents were issued. i.e.: Canada is not part of the Hague Convention, so the documents must be authenticated at THE DEPAREMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE in Ottawa, and them can be authenticated in the Nicaraguan Consulate in USA which is more expensive or at the Canadian Consulate in Managua. For retirees the legalization in the Consulate in Managua is free of charge.

    Any document to be legal and accepted in Nicaragua must be translated into Spanish, it could be notarized in the country of origin and the translation must be legalized it or can be done with a Nicaraguan Notary to be submitted to Immigration.

    It is important to note that even foreigners who have been living here, in Nicaragua, for years will still need to provide all the documents from their country of origin (a Nicaraguan police record doesn’t count for first-time applicants, even if they have been living here for years as a tourist). In all cases, no documents can be submitted without all the proper legalization.

    It’s also worth noting that police records and health certificates have an expiration date after five months for pensioners applying for residency through INTUR and six months for everyone else.

    There are two types of provisional residencies which is for 1 year and permanent which is for 5 year. Some residencies allow the right to work in Nicaragua and others don’t. Residency under the category of pensioner or rentier does not allow in-country work.

    Length of Process:

    It is not easy to estimate how long it will take to obtain residency in each of the categories, but here’s a general idea:

    As an Investor, the Incorporation of a Corporation can take around 3- 4 weeks, the inspection takes another 2-3 weeks and then usually another week for the report and certification. With the certification the applicant must submit the rest of his or her documents – police report, birth and health certificates. Then Immigration will have between 45 – 60 days to issue the Residency Card. So the whole process can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months.

    It takes about the same length of time for a Pensioner or Rentier. According to law, INTUR and Immigration officials are supposed to hold a Committee meeting once a month for new applications. However, oftentimes they only meet every other month. Then Immigration has 45 – 60 days to print the Residency Card. With the INTUR certification, the applicant can import household goods and the vehicle (my advice 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 to get their belongings out of Customs). Immigration is also double checking former law enforcement agents seeking residency, so their application process usually takes longer.


    For foreign investors, 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 apply.

    For Pensioners and renteirs, Immigration charge C$ 5,900.


    It is a crime to offer any tips or bribes to any Immigration officer, so don’t even think about it.

    Please note: the comments made in this article are based in my expertise, the law and the internal rules of application. But the law is subject to change.
    For a smooth application process to obtain residency people needs to find legal assistance.
    Best Regards,

    Paul Tiffer R.
    Attorney at law
    Tiffer & Asociados
    Managua, Nicaragua

    David Self
    David Self

    Thanks. Lots of good information and all in one place; for that I’m especially grateful. I am considering moving to Nicaragua and have transferred your contact information to my “Nicaragua File” for future reference.
    David Self



    Hi Paul

    I am a UK citizen and would like to apply for the Pensioner Visa I receive well above the qualifying amount of money but in Pounds Sterling. I am currently living in Egypt with my Egyptian husband I have been here for two years. Will my husband need to say that he is going to be making a application for residency as my dependant when he applies for his visa at the consulate in Cairo?



    Paul Tiffer
    Paul Tiffer

    Hello Maria, your husband must declare to the Nicaraguan Consulate in Cairo he will come to Nicaragua to apply for residency as retired under the law 694. If they ask more details he can explain you have a pension of “X” amount per months that will cover both, and he will apply as your dependent.

    My advice for you is to submit your application once you will arrive, especially because your husband will receive a visa class “B” which allow him as Egyptian to be leagl for 30 day and obtain an extension of the visa for another 30 days.

    Once you will prove you both have apply for Residency, they will him extensions until you will obtain your Residency as retiree people.

    Best Regards,



    I like to thank you Mr.Tiffer,I am considering moving to Nicaragua from Canada soon, Copied all info. for future references.

    I have also some questions about kind of business for create jobs at least for two locals, can I write you to your personel e-mail address to ask some info.



    Paul Tiffer
    Paul Tiffer

    I would be pleased to assist you, please email me to: with copy to:

    Best Regards,

    Paul Tiffer




    I would like some information about residency as an American student studying here in Managua, Nicaragua. It’s for my friend.

    Paul Tiffer
    Paul Tiffer

    If you need more information for an student, please contact me to:

    Best Regards,

    Paul Tiffer

    Paul Tiffer
    Paul Tiffer

    If you need more information for an student, please contact me to:

    Best Regards,

    Paul Tiffer



    Nicely said Paul. I can certainly verify and recommend your services. It can be a bit daunting but well worth the time and effort. I always recommend using a knowledgeable local (Managua or close by) Attorney for this process.



    Hi Paul,
    you seem pretty accurate with the info there. “Tax exemption to import household goods valuated at $20,000” – to be clear in this regard, only your household items, dont try bringing in any building supplies, they have a field day at customs.



    One thing that is a bit misleading is that this says if you are married to a Nicaraguan you can get residency for that. It is true only if your spouse can prove that they can pay for your support. I am married to a Nicaraguan and had to get my residency as an investor. I thought turning in my marriage certificate would be the end of it. It was not.




    it is important to note that Paul Tiffer is also known for his expertise in Corporate and Real estate/property litigation. He has helped me in both areas. I would like to take the time to thank Paul for his work in the latter. As many know, First American Title Insurance opted out of Nicaragua a few years ago, and property ownership, as well as land transfer taxes, and back-logged land tariffs can become an insufferable rat’s nest of red tape.
    Reliability and trustworthiness are valuable commodities when wading through the legal quagmire of a developing country, and I thank Paul for navigating some very murky waters for me.
    In closing: Paul, I can thank you again, but never enough for all you’ve done for my business and the sale of my home.
    Nick at Surf Tours Nicaragua

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