Requirements to Retire Abroad

 

map of the world

Related to my previous post regarding Safe Countries to Retire,  here are some of the requirements to retire abroad in the countries on the IL List.  If you are seriously considering relocating overseas, make sure you check the latest requirements for that country.  Laws change all the time.  Research and prepare carefully before moving, and make sure you meet all the deadlines.   Additionally, I advise that you contact a reputable local immigration attorney.   (Based on what I read, obtaining residency in another country can be a frustrating and bureaucratic process.)

Click here for some general guidance on the requirements to retire abroad.

Colombia

Medlin Colombia statueClick here for a video on various Colombian visas.  Of interest to our particular age group are:

Retirement visa (TP-7) – for foreigners with retirement income (such as a pension or Social Security).  The requirement is a minimum of 3xs the Colombian minimum wage.  The 2016 minimum wage in 2016 was 689,454 pesos per month.  Thus,  so the minimum retirement income is only $629 per month using an exchange rate of 3,290 pesos.

Rentista visa (TP-7) – for foreigners with non-pension income from outside Colombia from a public or private company.  For these people, the minimum income is 15xs the minimum wage in Colombia, or about $3,143 per month.

See medellinliving.com/resident-visa for more information.

 

Costa Rica

The requirements to retire abroad in Costa Rica seem fairly simple under one of two programs.   The first is the Rentista Program.  This is for people who do not have a fixed retirement income. You need to give proof of US $2,500 in monthly unearned income for the next two years.  Alternatively, you  need to show $60,000 deposit in a foreign or – preferably – Costa Rican bank.  Note that the income has to be “unearned,” i.e. wages or income from any form of employment does not count.

The second program is the Pensionado Program.  You need  to prove at least US $1,000/month from a pension or another retirement plan.

Contrary to other countries, the financial requirements for the Rentista and Pensionado Program are the same, whether you are single, a couple or have dependents.

For a reality check about retiring in Costa Rica, read this article: Retiring in Costa Rica: The Dream and The Reality

Panama

Retirees with “lifetime” pensions may qualify for the “Panama Pensionado Visa”.  This visa allows foreigners to obtain legal residency in Panama if they have a pension income guaranteed for life.  There is no minimum or maximum age required to qualify.  The applicant’s lifetime retirement income must be a minimum of US $1,000 per month.  (If your lifetime pension income is less than US $1,000 per month, but equal to or more than US $750 per month, you still may be eligible for this visa.  In those cases, you may buy any Panama real estate property with a value of at least US $100,000.  This reduces the lifetime monthly pension income requirement to a minimum of US $750.)

If applying for this visa, you must document your pension income  (i.e., a letter from the institution or company that pays the retirement or pension income).  Either the Panamanian Consulate or an apostille must notarize and authenticate the certificate.

Two reality check articles regarding retiring in Panama:

Retiring in Panama: the Pros & Cons

8 Things to Know About Retiring in Panama Today

Malaysia

malaysia skyscrapers

The requirements to retire in Malaysia appear more difficult compared to Latin America.  (There are several visas if you want to stay more than three months in Malaysia or if you want to work there.  I am not discussing those visas.)

For our demographic, the most promising way to retire to Malaysia is via Malaysia My Second Home Program:

  • Below age 50 – show liquid assets of about $125,000 USD and a monthly income of about $2,500 USD or better.
  • Above age 50 – show liquid assets of about $87,500 USD and a monthly income of about $2,500 USD or better.

If you buy a property with a value of about $250,000 USD or above, the fund availability requirement is lowered.

Once you are approved:

If you are under age 50

You need to purchase a certificate of investment of 300,000RM ($75,000 USD) in a prescribed Malaysian financial institution.   After a period of one year, you can withdraw 150,000RM ($37,500 USD) for approved purchases (housing, tuition for children or for medical purposes).  The balance of 150,000RM must be maintained for the length of participation in the program.

If up to 1/2 the deposit wasn’t used to buy a house, but a later purchase was made with a value over 1,000,000RM (around $244,000 USD), you can apply to reclaim ½ of the deposit (or 150,000RM).

If you are over age 50

The certificate is for 150,000RM, the allowed withdrawal is 50,000RM, and the balance to be maintained is the remaining 100,000RM.   If you are retired this may be waived.

For retirees over 50 years of age with a state pension of at least 10,000RM ($2,500) per month, the fixed deposit requirement may be omitted.  Again, purchase of property entitles the participant to draw down the certificate to 100,000RM if it hasn’t already been used up

For all applicants, irrespective of their age:

  • You need a medical report from a clinic or hospital in Malaysia for yourself and all family members.
  • Show proof of medical insurance unless you are uninsurable due to age or medical condition.
  • If you are applying directly, you must post a security bond in the amount of 200RM (about $50 USD) to 2,000RM (about $500 USD) depending on your nationality.
  • If you are applying through an agent, the agency has to post the bond.  Agents will charge anywhere from 1,200RM to 10,000RM, depending on services offered.

Click here for more information.

For an idea of how much it costs to live in Malaysia, this blog post might be helpful.

Portugal

lisbon portugal gardenFor EU citizens,  the requirements to retire in Portugal are fairly straightforward.  EU citizens can apply for a residence permit from any of the regional offices of the Portuguese Immigration Service or SEF (Servico de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras).

Unfortunately, non-EU citizens face tougher requirements to retire in Portugal.  These individuals need to apply for a residence permit at a Portuguese consular office in their home country before relocating to Portugal.  Additionally, they will typically need to show a valid passport, proof of income, proof of health insurance, and submit to a criminal background check. Non-EU nationals can obtain a temporary residence permit for five years, after which they will be able to apply for permanent residence.

Golden Visa scheme

Non-EU residents looking to retire in Portugal can also take advantage of the Golden Visa scheme. This visa was introduced to attract investors.  This option is only open to third-country nationals who can fulfill at least one of these requirements:

  • Purchase real estate with the value of at least EUR 500,000 or above.
  • Purchase of real estate property with a minimum value of EUR 350,000 for the purpose of refurbishing.  The properties must either have construction dating back more than 30 years or be located in urban regeneration areas.
  • Make a capital transfer equating to EUR 1 million or greater towards the country.
  • Create at least 10 job positions.
  • Make a capital investment of EUR 350,000 or more towards research activities conducted by public or private scientific research institutions involved in Portugal’s scientific or tech systems.
  • Transfer a capital investment of at least EUR 250,000 to support Portugal’s local arts or the country’s national heritage sector.
  • Make a capital investment of EUR 500,000 or more for purchasing shares in investment funds or in venture capital geared to capitalize small and medium companies in Portugal.

If you meet the financial requirements to retire in Portugal under the Golden Visa Scheme, you probably aren’t a budget retiree!

Pensioners

Foreigners looking to retire in Portugal from non-EU countries need to check with the state pension service in their home country to see what the situation is withdrawing their pension abroad.  Portugal has tax and social security arrangements with several non-EU countries to make things easier.  See here for the U.S. International Social Security Agreement.  However, as residents in Portugal are taxed on their worldwide income, private pensions paid from abroad may also be liable to Portuguese taxes.

For a reality check by a younger person who decided not to retire in Portugal, read this.

Mexico

chichen itza mexico pyramid

The requirements to retire in Mexico appear pretty straightforward. A retiree can apply for a four-year temporary resident visa.  To get the ball rolling, visit your nearest Mexican consulate.  Your eligibility is contingent on showing that you can support yourself as a retiree on funds you’ve made (or are making) outside of Mexico.

  • The minimum monthly requirement is around $1,400 net income per individual (dependents add around $520 each to this amount).
  • You may also provide 12 months of bank statements showing an average balance of at least $23,500.
  • You can also qualify if you own a property in Mexico with a value of around $207,000 or more.
Permanent Resident Visa

If you choose to stay longer than four years, you can apply for a permanent resident visa.

  • If you completed four years with a temporary resident visa, it is a fairly easy process to switch to permanent status.
  • A permanent resident visa status allows you to work in Mexico.
  • To qualify, you must show investment statements with an average monthly balance over the last 12 months of $93,000, or a monthly net income (or pension) over the last six months of at least $2,300.

Click here for more information.

Ecuador

boquete signTo obtain permanent resident status, retirees often apply for a pensioner visa.

Information for 2017 states you need to show a minimum income of at least $800 USD per month from a stable source to obtain a pensioner 9-I visa (plus $100 per month for each dependent).  If you plan to live off an annuity or trust, you need to show the equivalent of five years’ worth of the monthly minimum (i.e., at least $48,000).

Another option is to invest $25,000 in the local real estate market, or show funds in a bank CD or other approved financial instrument.

Finally, you will also need a police report from your home country.

Your visa application documents must be authenticated by the U.S. Secretary of State, then translated into Spanish after you get to Ecuador.   Read more on Investopedia.

 

Peru

peru alpaca

To obtain a retirement visa (rentista visa) in Peru, you need to provide proof that you earn a minimum monthly income of $1,000 USD.  (To add a dependent, add another $500 USD a month).

You cannot earn money while on a rentista visa, but after two years of residency,  you can change your immigration status and apply for citizenship.  At that point, you can work.

 

 

Steps for obtaining a retirement visa:
  1. Fill out Form F004.
  2. Bring a copy of your passport, including the page with your visa stamp.
  3. Present a letter from your pension fund or Social Security, notarized in your home country and sent to the Peruvian consulate for legalization.  The notarized letter will cost 26 Peruvian soles to legalize,
  4. Get a government-approved translator to translate the copies (usually around 70-100 Peruvian soles).
  5. Present a Declaracion Jurada, a letter written in Spanish confirming you have no criminal past.
  6. Present your tourist visa and related paperwork.

Processing times for this visa can take up to 4 months. This is a permanent visa to reside in the country.  As such, it has no expiry date, but you will not be able to work on it.  The visa allows you to import any personal items (including furniture) into Peru without having to pay tax.  However, this excludes cars (you will be liable for the usual taxes and duties).

On this visa, you do not need to renew your carné de extranjería (residence permit) every year and you do not need to pay foreign tax.

Spain

spain barcelona

The requirements to retire in Spain are not too stringent.  Retirees or others who have the financial means to support themselves without working can apply for residence in Spain for non-lucrative purposes. To qualify, you must show that you have the means to support yourself and any dependents without working.

In 2015, the official monthly minimum income was €2,130 (about $2430 US) for an individual (€532.51, or about $ 610 US, for each dependent). However, the actual minimum income you’ll need to show will depend on where you choose to live (and how expensive that destination is).  Spanish Immigration will determine this.

Citizens of non-EU countries must show proof of private health insurance valid in Spain.  Other requirements include (but are not limited to): a valid application form; a certificate of good conduct issued by the police in the city/cities you’ve lived over the past five years; and a medical report.

Lastly, you must submit all the required documents to your nearest Spanish embassy or consulate by appointment in person.

Processing your application may take up to three months.  After approval, you have one month to pick up your entry visa and three months to enter Spain.

Initial visas are for one year. Here is what an application looks like for a residency visa.

For an idea of what things cost in Spain, read this blog from 2017.

 

Chile

Prior to retiring in Chile, you should get a visitor’s visa, which is valid for 90 days.  It takes about four weeks to obtain.  You can extend the visa, but you cannot work on this visa.

If you decide that Chile is where you want to put down roots, the requirements to retire are to obtain a Retirement & Income Visa.  This visa is valid for one year with proof of sufficient income to live in the designated city of choice.  You must show proof that your income will cover you and your dependents for a period of 14 months:

Other visa options include:

Short-Term Visas: Valid for one year, and takes around four weeks to obtain. You must leave the country and return once every year if you wish to renew. Holders of this visa can intern, study, or carry out volunteer work, but cannot hold a Chilean job outside of these areas.

Work Visa: The length of this visa will depend on your work contract, which will be needed in order to apply. This visa applies if you’re either being transferred to Chile by an employer, or simply wish to live and work in Chile longer than one year.

People coming from the U.S. or Canada who wish to live in Chile do not have to have a background check.

Sonia

I am a 50-something retired woman, currently residing in Las Vegas, Nevada. This blog addresses the budgetary challenges and other concerns of "young" retirees. We are an overlooked group: too old to be considered middle-aged and too young to be called senior citizens.

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