The most recent information from the Central Bank of Costa Rica (BBCR) indicates that 78.64% of the adult (over 18) population that lives in Costa Rica have at least one bank account. According to official data, 72.14% of people 65 years of age or older are banked; this percentage is 72.8% for those who are 10 to 15 years old, and 76.63% for those 15 to 18.
In April of last year, the level of banking penetration in the country was less than 70%. To improve this, President Carlos Alvarado, issued the guideline “To improve efficiency and financial inclusion at the level of people and MIPYMES” directed to state and public banks, seeking to increase their level of banking access and access to credit for medium to small businesses and individuals.
Previously, in July 2018, Alvarado issued the directive “Financial inclusion in State transfer programs”, which sought to ensure that all beneficiaries of social programs acquire a savings account.
For the Minister of Human Development and Social Inclusion and executive president of the Mixed Institute of Social Aid (IMAS), Juan Luis Bermúdez, “financial inclusion is access to services and safeguards in times of crisis such as the one we are currently experiencing with the Covid-19 pandemic”.
He recalled that under this program, and with the support of the national financial system, a process of banking access of the beneficiaries began in 2018 in the CCSS and in the IMAS that has allowed many families to go from receiving the resources manually to the use of debit cards. “Today that effort is the starting point to protect the families that need it most in an agile and safe way,” he said.
A study by the Inter-American Development Bank (BID) called “Financial Inclusion in Latin America” of August 2016, indicates that Costa Rica is one of the three countries with the highest level of bank penetration in the region with 68%, surpassed by Brazil and followed by Chile.
Opening a bank account in Costa Rica
Opening a bank account, at State (public) or private bank is simple as having the right document: a cedula for nationals, DIMEX for foreigner residents and passport for all others.
Although foreigners without residency in the country can open a bank account, the “Cuenta Simplificada” is only available at the BCR and Banco Nacional, is limited to average movements of less than US$1,000 monthly for level 1 and US$2,000 for level 2. The account cannot be used for sending and receiving international transfers.