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Applying for Free Trade Zone Benefits

Applying for Free Trade Zone Benefits

To qualify to do business in a Free Trade Zone (FTZ), a company must be incorporated in Costa Rica, either as a subsidiary of a foreign company or as a local company. This process takes approximately four weeks. The second step is to submit to the treasurer's office (Tesoreria Nacional) an FTZ application, which includes a sanitary permit from the Ministry of Health, an environmental impact or feasibility study, and the appropriate legal documents. This will take approximately 1-4 weeks.

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The next step is to submit the application to PROCOMER, the Costa Rican Developer of Foreign Commerce. Once approved, PROCOMER's consulting department and business analysts will issue a report to be approved by their Technical Commission. The entire review process takes approximately two weeks.

If PROCOMER's Technical Commission has no objections to the application, the business analyst will draft an Executive Free Trade Zone Agreement. Both the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the President of Costa Rica must review and sign the Executive FTZ agreement. If either parties has an objection or denies the agreement, PROCOMER's Operations Department will be notified and PROCOMER will notify you. If there are no problems, the applicant moves on to the signature and publications process. This step also takes an estimated two weeks.

After all paperwork is complete, the FTZ applicant must secure custom authority approval, which includes sanitary permits for operation and municipal licenses. This process takes approximately two weeks. Finally, once the company has received all related permits and permissions, they will secure their PROCOMER operations contract with a $5,000 deposit. Upon receipt of the deposit, PROCOMER will publish the executive agreement in La Gaceta, Costa Rica's official government newspaper.

The entire application process is estimated at 7-10 weeks, plus an additional 4 weeks if the company is not already incorporated in Costa Rica. Three months after signing the executive agreements, a commission appointed by PROCOMER will visit the approved company to verify that the business is properly established within the FTZ. The same procedure applies to changing the terms and conditions of an FTZ Agreement. However, approval from PROCOMER's Technical Commission is not required for changes.


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