Want to know more about The Costa Rica maritime zone and the concession?

The maritime zone is the first 200 yards on the coast of Costa Rica. It also includes the islands except Isla del Coco, which is a national park.


The Costa Rica  maritime zone is divided in two parts:

    • the first 50 meters is a public zone, owned by the government. All the mangrove is also part of the public zone, whatever the area the mangrove is covering. The public zone is a free area where anyone can transit. Free access, yes you read it well.


  • the next 150 meters is called the restricted zone, and is the area known for the concession zone. The government is in charge of the maritime zone.  Three National offices share the tasks:

    The national tourist institution (ICT) is entitled to define the zoning for the concession zone.

    The municipality ( Golfito for our area) protects, preserves the maritime zone and collects the concession tax.

    The Minae is also entitled to protect this area. It can approve eco-tourism and projects related to research and studies. ( Follow me to know more about the Minae and  the Costa Rica  maritime zone, it is the subject on one of my next article.)


Costa Rican Concession and taxes:

The municipality has the right to charge and collect a tax (canon) on the land with concession. ( you read well again, if you don't have concession, you don't have to pay a tax to the municipality).
Zancudo point by plane

Zancudo point by plane

The municipality of Golfito, concessions and transfer of shares:

In the canton of Golfito, the Municipality has not granted many concessions the past four years. As many knows, Golfito municipality went through many crises. May 2016 is the election month. The new Maire (Alcalde) will be able to keep his team working on concession. The next years should show more development on the beach area.

The concession will get granted, taking in consideration that the first person or corporation who applied for concession is the one who is most likely to get the rights.

Another condition is to be occupying the lot in a peaceful manner, in the eyes of the public for a continuous period of time. A concession can’t be sold, given, or transferred. Usually, a lot in a concession area is owned by corporation, allowing the transfer of the shares to a new member of the corporation.

What is the plano regulador in the Costa Rica maritime zone?

It is a map of the Costa Rica coast line, divided into zoning such residential, commercial, green area, industrial, touristic etc. The ICT ( Costa Rica National Tourism office) is in charge of this zoning plan.
plano regulador Pavones
All the coast line is divided in sections marked with a half foot concrete post . Each post has a number. It is called in spanish a mojon. 
When you are looking for a zoning, the first step is to look for the mojon.

mojon small
Some of the common zoning symbols are:

  • ZP: protection zone.

  • ZAT : Zone for touristic development.

  • ZRL: Residential zone.

  • ZCO: Commercial zone.

  • ZRR: recreative residential zone.

  • ZPU: public zone.

  • ZPA : Zone for park.

  • ZCam: Camping zone.

  • ZAP: Fishing zone.

  • ZFC: zone for the community.

Who can get a concession on the Costa Rica coast line?:


  • Citizen from Costa Rica.
  • Corporations with 51% of the shares owned by citizen of Costa Rica.
  • Residents over 5 years.


If you are not a citizen of Costa Rica, you are probably wondering how to control your property if you own 49% of it. Well the trick is pretty simple, since you are the president of the corporation, only you can sell and transfer the shares. Your partners are shareholders without power of action and decision.

Concession life time in Costa Rica:

A concession is valid from 5 to 20 years and is renewable. The municipality may notify you to renew your concession directly or through the official Newspaper (el diario oficial). Note the expiration date to keep track of the validity of your files.
Remember the Costa Rica Maritime zone law ( law # 6043) indicates that the government can expropriate the land. They could if your taxes are not paid and if you are not respecting the zoning.

After reading this, you may think it is a little bit sketchy and dangerous to own property rights in the concession zone. It is not as safe as owning a titled property, but personally, i really enjoy the beach life style, and that is worth for me a piece of my financial capital. Many people have been enjoying their home at the beach for years. The concession area is also the place to run really successful businesses.

To know more:

Only Costa Rican and Costa Rican corporations can develop touristic activities in the maritime zone. Also foreign corporation as long as more than half of its capital is owned by Costa Rican citizen or entities. 

What is prohibited without a legal authorization:


  • Have a fence or any separation.
  • Have any type of building. The municipality will not issue you a building permit if you don’t have concession.
  • Cut trees.
  • Extract product from the vegetation.
  • Have any kind of activity, development.




Sport fishing and water activities:

The use of the land related to sport fishing or any activities related to the sea, could be authorized if approved by the Tourist institution,( ICT), the home and urbanism institution (INVU) and MOPT ( National office of roads and transport).

The Costa Rica municipality “can’t do”:


  • The municipality can’t authorize touristic projects without a prior approbation from the ICT (Costa Rica National Tourism office). Once the project has been presented, the ICT has 3 months to approve or not the project. If the ICT doesn’t answer within 3 months, the project is tacitly approved. Same authorization is needed from INVU.
  • Can’t grant concession without a plano regulador elaborated by the ICT and INVU.




Most of the information in this article was translated from the Costa Rica Maritime zone law, by Nathalie Donahue.

See our listings for sale and for rent in the maritime zone:

Zancudo home for saleThis beach front Zancudo home is right next to Zancudo lodge, the successful sport fishing lodge. Priced at $255,000.
More info here.
Pavones-Ocean-Front for saleThis land has concession for hotel and tourism and a project of 25 rooms has been approved. It is a great opportunity for a business or investment.
More info here.

Luxury beach home for sale near Pavones Costa RicaThis luxury beach home is an ideal place to spend a great vacation.
The home is right on the beach, great for all kind of watersports, from sailing, Stand Up Paddle Boarding to surfing and fishing.
This home has a pool and 3 hole practice golf course.
More info here
Pilon beach home for saleGreat local home for sale, owned 17 years by the same owner. Big yard, and a big ocean playground at your door.
More info here.
Zancudo beach home for sale.This home is perfect for Bed and Breakfast business. The owner is receiving offers.
More info here.

Thank you for reading, contact me if you have any questions about the Maritime zone in Costa Rica.

Nathalie Donahue.


Category : Blog &real estate guide



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