Basic Questions and Answers on Properties in the Maritime Zone for Hotel Investments in Costa Rica

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  1. What is the nature of the maritime zone regime in Costa Rica?

The maritime terrestrial area in Costa Rica is the first 200 meters measured horizontally from the high tide line. The maritime zone includes islands, pinnacles of rock, mangroves, estuaries, and any small natural formation that overcomes the level of the ocean. This zone consists of two sections: the public area, which is the first 50 measured horizontally from the high tide mark.  and the restricted area, constituted by the 150 meters remaining, or by the other lands in case of islands.

The land and properties located in this area belong to the State of Costa Rica and are not subject to sale or disposal by individuals. The public area cannot be subject to occupation and must be dedicated to public use and to the free movement of people. In the restricted area the Municipality can grant concessions for its use and exploitation, in accordance with the zoning plans of the specific area.

Thus, properties located in the maritime zone are not subject to the normal regime of private property in the country. As such, these properties cannot be subject to commercial acts such as transfer, assignment, lease, or the establishment of encumbrances on the property. For this, the authorization of the respective Municipality and the Costa Rican Board of Tourism (ICT) is required.


  1. What are the relevant authorities involved in the decision-making process in the maritime regime and what powers do they exercise?

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