Retirement in Nicaragua
- How To Become A Resident

If you seriously consider retirement in Nicaragua, you need to know what options you have for obtaining a residency permit, the allmighty "cedula" (a word you'll hear often when staying in Nicaragua, even for simple things like paying with credit card instead of cash at the supermarket).


There are two standard ways to get a residency permit (locally called "la residencia" which is normally valid for 1 year) - you are either retired or you have "private income."

The first option is called the "Pensionado" program. To apply for it, you must be 45 years or older and prove a steady monthly income of at least $600 (plus $150 for each dependent family member).

Immigration Office in Managua

Immigration Office in Managua

Compared to other countries, this amount is still low (in Panama you need at least $1,000 and in Belize twice as much), but not as low as it used to be before the new residency law came into effect in 2009. Before 2009, you only needed a guaranteed income of $400 (plus $100 for each dependent).  If you are not retired yet, you can apply for the "Rentista" status, i.e. people with private incomes. Again, the minimum age is 45 years. The minimum income amount is $750 per month (plus $150 for each dependent), and the income can come from investments, revenues, stocks, rents, retirement plans, etc. 

Enlist the help of a local English speaking lawyer, who is experienced with the residency process. Nicaragua's bureaucracy is not the easiest to navigate through, especially if your Spanish knowledge is limited.

One thing to note is: once you are a Nicaraguan resident, you must get the permission of the government to leave the country. You can purchase a yearlong permission slip for $80 at the Immigration Office in Managua.

What benefits do you get when you retire to Nicaragua? The main ones are:

  • You pay no taxes on foreign income
  • You can import up to $20,000 worth of household goods duty free
  • You can import one vehicle worth up to $25,000 every four years with no import tax or protective tariff to pay
Nicaragua-guide.com provides a comprehensive overview over the new residency rules in Nicaragua and its benefits.

Tip: Most documents for the application process you need to get before moving to Nicaragua, namely

  • Birth certificate for you and your dependants
  • Police record 
  • Marriage license

All documents have to be less than 6 months old. Since May 2014 Nicaragua is part of the Hague Convention for legalization of public documents. If your country of origin is part of the Hague Convention as well, you only need to get the Hague Apostille for these documents.

If your country is not part of the Hague Convention (like Canada), the legalization process is a bit more complicated. First, you need to get the documents authenticated by the respective authorities in your country and then by either the nearest Nicaraguan consulate in your country or by your country's consulate in Managua - if there is one.

Calculate at least 4 to 6 weeks for the authentication process. Apostilles take less time, perhaps 1 to 2 weeks.

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