How does Social Security in Costa Rica work?

One of the best things about Costa Rica is that there is national medical care for citizens and residents of the country. As a matter of fact, it is mandatory that everybody that is a national or resident or even someone with a temporary permit to live or work here must register with the social security in Costa Rica, known in Spanish as the “Caja Costarricense de Seguro (CCSS or what everyone calls the Caja)”.  As a result, you become eligible for benefits under Costa Rica’s social welfare system.

Keep in mind that in Costa Rica, navigating the government systems can be a little confusing. Let’s see if we can help you understand the Caja better.

The primary benefit from this particular system is medical treatment at government-run clinics and hospitals, whether accident, illness or maternity.  The doctors at these facilities tend to have their own private practices as well, and rotate in and out of the clinics and hospital, so you know that the care if first-rate..

Social Security in Costa Rica does provide an old age pension,  but the Costa Rican government requires a minimum of 300 months of work in this country in order to receive these benefits.  That is the reason most of the retired people who have moved down here are relying on their own security benefits from their previous country.

Further breaking this down, if you are a legal worker here, your employers are required to pay CCSS 14% of your salary, while your deducted contribution is 9 %.  Self-employed folks pay in a monthly amount based on self-reported income made to Caja.

CCSS does not cover employment and income insurance if you are out of work due to long-term injury. This benefit comes from payments made independently to the Instituto Nacional de Seguros (INS) by your employer or yourself. The amount of the payment is tallied from the average of your salary for the last three months before stopping work.  The minimum age is 18, however, there is Adolescene Work Insurance for employed youngsters between the ages of 15-18.

INS also provides insurance to cover important payments that must be met in the case of losing your job. These include credit card protection and mortgages.

For more information on how to register for any of these benefits, you can go to if you can manage Spanish. Otherwise, here are the locations to register:

1 Sucursal 27 de Abril 2658-0436 2658-0126 Santa Cruz, Guanacaste
2 Sucursal Bri-brí 2756-8003 Talamanca, Limón
3 Sucursal Cariari 2767-7879 Cariari, Limón
4 Sucursal de Abangares 2662-0236 2662-0661 Abangares, Guanacaste
5 Sucursal de Acosta 2410-0176 2410-1362 San José
6 Sucursal de Alajuela 2440-2290 2440-1941 Alajuela
7 Sucursal de Alfaro Ruiz 2463-3366 2463-1453 Alfaro Ruiz, Alajuela
8 Sucursal de Atenas 2446-5466 2446-8909 Atenas, Alajuela
9 Sucursal de Bataan 2718-7621 Bataan, Limón
10 Sucursal de Buenos Aires 2730-0016 2730-1263 Buenos Aires, Perez Zeledón

Try staying at the hotel “El Grano De Oro” while in San Jose for filing paperwork for your social security.