An enhanced package of incentives aims to accelerate the growth of the audiovisual service industry in Costa Rica.
Production has been developing fast during the last decade and requests for permits to shoot in the central American country reached 200 a year in 2022.
The main benefit is a cash return of 90% of taxes paid in Costa Rica. This cash incentive has no budget line restriction and is not capped.
“The return is always going to be an average of 11.7% of all the expenses generated in Costa Rica in your pocket in less than 60 days after the application as the law mandates,” explains Jose Castro, Costa Rica Film Commissioner. “If you invest $100.000.000 you will receive $12.000.000 back in your company bank account.”
All above and below the line talent, including directors and producers, working on an international production in Costa Rica are not subject to tax of any kind while employed in the country, nor is importing any special equipment and securing the relevant permits
Furthermore, incentive monies are returned to producers within 60 days. “It’s very speedy and can be paid in cash,” says Laura Alvaraddo, promoter from the Costa Rica Film Commission.
The new incentives, regulations and procedures have been open to applications from May 2022 and now the commission is gearing up to welcome various international studios, including one that will shoot an entire television series in the country.
The tax incentive is a result of almost five years of negotiation with the government to introduce it to bolster the country and its economy. “Now the government is familiar with the economic boost the film industry brings and its impact in the country,” says Alvarado.
With coasts on the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east and borders with Nicaragua in the north and Panama in the southeast, Costa Rica offers a backdrop of tropical paradise. Its heady mix of volcanoes, rainforests and beaches have long drawn film and TV producers, as well as the producers of commercials, video clips and photo shoots to the country.
Before the introduction of the incentives, Costa Rica was renowned as a location for shooting high-end documentaries, with visiting productions from National Geographic, Amazon, Hulu, Discovery Channel, Netflix, HBO and Disney. Television programming for the BBC, PBC, NBC and CBC has also been filmed alongside commercials for car giant Nissan and Corona beer.
The sixth (and final) season of FX US television show Snowfall, the crime drama created by John Singleton, Eric Amadio and Dave Andron, filmed in November 2022 in the gulf of Golfito, Costa Rica’s most southern port town, a 45 -minute aircraft hop from the country’s international airport in San Jose.
Talks to build a large-scale studio facility to host bigger shoots are now ongoing. If greenlit, this would allow large-scale productions to base themselves entirely in the territory.
The film commission is a firm advocate for sustainability in film and TV production and goes to great lengths to ensure green practices and protect the country’s jaw-dropping biodiversity. All projects made in Costa Rica must comply with the nationwide eco- tourism drive and utilise sustainable production practices. The film commission recommends hiring a local production company to do this.
Costa Rica’s famous mantra “Pura Vida” — a reflection of optimism and positivity among the people — extends to its film sector.
“We have a lot of people that can help with your productions and the film commission is ready to help with all the paperwork that you need to film here. We offer all the facilities that international companies need.” Says Castro, who is attending this month’s American Film Market.
The film commission is a division of and supported by the Costa Rican Foreign Trade Promoter (PROCOMER) and has an office in Los Angeles, California.
Contact: Jose Castro, Costa Rica film commissioner
Phone: 1 (213) 344-8444
Find out more: FilmCostaRica@procomer.com