Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for Residency in Puerto Rico

Moving to Puerto Rico offers numerous benefits such as favorable tax incentives and a beautiful tropical climate. However, navigating the residency application process can be challenging, with many potential pitfalls that could hinder your chances of success. In this article, we will explore some common mistakes that applicants often make and provide valuable guidance on how to successfully establish residency in Puerto Rico.

Understanding the tax incentives available in Puerto Rico, like Act 60, and ensuring you meet the bona fide residency requirements are essential steps in the application process. Additionally, it’s crucial to take into consideration practical matters such as real estate, housing, and the cost of living, as well as effectively handling taxes in both Puerto Rico and the United States.

With proper planning and knowledge of the residency process, U.S. citizens and residents can benefit from Puerto Rico’s unique tax structure while making a smooth transition to life in this beautiful Caribbean island. With the right approach, you can maximize the advantages of relocating to Puerto Rico and avoid common pitfalls along the way.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding tax incentives and meeting bona fide residency requirements are crucial in the application process
  • Factor in real estate, housing, and cost of living considerations when preparing for life in Puerto Rico
  • Properly handle taxes and leverage the benefits of Act 60 to maximize your advantages in relocating to the island

Understanding Puerto Rico’s Tax Incentives

Puerto Rico offers a range of tax incentives to attract investments and promote economic growth. One of the most popular incentives is known as Act 60, which is a combination of previous Acts 20 and 22. The main aim of these incentives is to encourage people to relocate and invest in the territory, ultimately boosting the local economy.

Key benefits of Act 60 include reduced income tax rates and exemptions on certain types of income for eligible individuals and businesses. For instance, qualifying businesses can enjoy a 4% corporate tax rate, while individuals can benefit from a 100% tax exemption on certain investment income.

However, to take advantage of these tax incentives, there are a few important requirements that must be met. One crucial factor is becoming a bona fide resident of Puerto Rico. This involves spending at least 183 days per year in the territory and establishing strong connections such as owning a home in Puerto Rico, having a local driver’s license, and being registered to vote.

It is essential for those considering relocating to Puerto Rico for tax purposes to carefully evaluate their commitment to the move. As a US citizen, you are subject to federal income taxes on your worldwide income regardless of your residence or domicile. Therefore, you should consult with a tax professional before making any decisions related to your tax status and residency.

In conclusion, understanding Puerto Rico’s tax incentives is critical for those considering a move to the island for tax-saving purposes. By familiarizing yourself with Act 60 and the bona fide residency requirements, you can make informed decisions that will help you maximize the benefits of your relocation while avoiding common mistakes. Just remember: tax planning is vital, and it is always best to consult with an expert to ensure you are following all the necessary rules and regulations.

Establishing Bona Fide Residency in Puerto Rico

When applying for residency in Puerto Rico, it’s crucial to establish one’s status as a bona fide resident to take advantage of the tax benefits and other perks. In order to achieve this designation, there are a few key criteria an individual must meet, including presence, tax home, and closer connections.

Presence in Puerto Rico: First and foremost, an applicant must demonstrate they have a significant presence on the island. This can be achieved by spending at least 183 days during the taxable year in Puerto Rico, or satisfying one of the other presence tests. However, it is not enough to simply meet this requirement; it must be proven and documented.

Tax Home: Establishing a tax home in Puerto Rico is another important factor in becoming a bona fide resident. This means that the individual’s main place of business, employment, or income-earning activity should be situated within the territory. Additionally, any ties to a mainland tax home should be severed to fully focus on Puerto Rico.

Closer Connections: The closer connection test is designed to ensure that the applicant has stronger ties to Puerto Rico than any other foreign country or the mainland. Factors considered in this test include family, social, political, and economic connections. Having a primary residence, bank accounts, and a Puerto Rican driver’s license, as well as volunteering in local organizations, can help to demonstrate these connections.

While the process of establishing bona fide residency in Puerto Rico may seem daunting, it is achievable with careful planning and documentation. By being aware of the requirements and demonstrating a true commitment to life on the island, an applicant can successfully become a bona fide resident of Puerto Rico and reap the benefits of this status.

Common Mistakes in the Residency Application Process

Applying for residency in Puerto Rico can be an exciting opportunity for many individuals, especially considering the tax benefits and appealing lifestyle. However, there are some common mistakes that applicants should try their best to avoid in order to ensure a smooth application process. The following paragraphs discuss these pitfalls in a friendly, third-person tone.

One common mistake that applicants make is not properly researching the potential tax benefits of moving to Puerto Rico. In recent years, Puerto Rico has established several tax incentive programs to attract new residents and businesses. It’s essential that applicants familiarize themselves with the applicable tax incentives, such as Act 20 and Act 22, which can offer substantial savings on income tax rates. Applicants should also be mindful of tax obligations in their current jurisdiction, as worldwide income may still be subject to taxation.

Another frequent error is neglecting to consult with knowledgeable professionals, such as lawyers and tax advisors, who can provide valuable guidance throughout the residency application process. These experts can help applicants navigate the complexities of the Puerto Rican legal and tax systems, ensuring that all necessary documentation is filed correctly and in a timely manner. In addition, they can help identify any potential red flags or issues that may arise during the application process.

Moreover, some applicants fail to account for the logistical challenges of moving to Puerto Rico. Relocating to a new territory can involve a variety of considerations, from shipping personal belongings to finding housing and adjusting to a new culture. It’s crucial that applicants adequately plan for these aspects to ensure a successful transition. Researching the local real estate market, understanding transportation options, and familiarizing oneself with the unique aspects of Puerto Rican culture can help applicants make a more informed decision about their potential relocation.

Lastly, applicants should be wary of providing incomplete or inaccurate information on their residency applications. Any discrepancies or omissions can lead to delays or even rejection of the application. It’s crucial that all required documents are submitted promptly and accurately, keeping in mind any deadlines or important dates.

By being aware of these common mistakes and taking the necessary steps to avoid them, applicants can increase their chances of a successful residency application in Puerto Rico. Good preparation, meticulous attention to detail, and a thorough understanding of the processes involved will go a long way in ensuring a smooth and fruitful transition to life on the island.

Choosing the Right Business Structure

When applying for residency in Puerto Rico, one crucial decision is choosing the right business structure for your venture. The type of business entity you select will significantly impact your taxes, personal liability, and overall business operations.

Corporations are a popular choice for large businesses, as they offer liability protection to the shareholders and can raise capital through the sale of stocks. However, they could be more complex to set up and require adherence to strict regulations. Consider choosing a corporation if your business plans to expand significantly or raise funds through investments.

Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) provide a flexible structure that combines the benefits of both corporations and sole proprietorships. An LLC offers liability protection to its owners like in a corporation, while also enjoying the pass-through taxation found in sole proprietorships and partnerships. This business structure is ideal for small to medium-sized businesses desiring flexibility and a simple tax filing process.

Sole proprietorships suit individuals who prefer simplicity and minimal bureaucratic requirements. They are the most straightforward business structure to establish, with the owner being responsible for all aspects of the business. However, the owner also assumes all liabilities, which can be risky if the business encounters financial difficulties. This structure is well-suited for self-employed individuals or freelancers.

Lastly, the Individual Resident Investor is a unique option for those planning to relocate to Puerto Rico and invest in local businesses. This entity type allows investors to benefit from multiple tax incentives, such as reduced income tax rates and preferential treatment on capital gains, while also promoting economic growth in Puerto Rico.

In summary, it is essential to carefully consider these different business structures when applying for residency in Puerto Rico. Your choice will impact not only your personal liability and tax obligations but also the ease of setting up and operating your business. Be sure to consult with a professional advisor to select the most suitable structure for your unique situation and goals.

Real Estate and Housing Considerations

When considering residency in Puerto Rico, it’s essential to look into the real estate and housing options available. Puerto Rico offers a variety of properties for rent and purchase, ranging from beachfront homes to city apartments in bustling San Juan.

One crucial aspect to consider while choosing a property in Puerto Rico is the local weather. The island’s Caribbean climate can cause damages to homes from torrential rain and hurricanes. It’s essential to ensure your chosen property can withstand potential weather-related challenges, like flooding, especially if it’s close to the beach or within a flood zone (source).

Don’t forget to factor in additional insurance costs for properties near beaches, as they’re more likely to be in flood zones. Make sure any prospective rental home or purchased property meets all safety and insurance requirements necessary for the region.

Another consideration when shopping for real estate in Puerto Rico is planning for retirement. The island is increasingly becoming a popular choice for retirees due to its relaxed lifestyle, warm weather, and vibrant culture. When exploring housing options, think about whether the property is suitable for your long-term needs, including accessibility and proximity to essential services like healthcare and shopping facilities.

San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, offers a variety of real estate choices, from modern condos to historic neighborhoods. Living in San Juan means you’ll be close to the island’s cultural epicenter and not too far from its beautiful beaches.

Ultimately, when searching for the perfect property in Puerto Rico, it’s essential to be mindful of housing costs and be prepared for fluctuations in real estate values. By taking a friendly, diligent approach and keeping an eye on the market, you’ll be well on your way to finding an ideal home for your Puerto Rican residency.

Handling U.S. and Puerto Rico Taxes

When applying for residency in Puerto Rico, it’s essential to understand how to handle both U.S. and Puerto Rico taxes properly. This can help you avoid unnecessary complications or penalties down the road.

One crucial aspect to be aware of is the interaction between the IRS and the Puerto Rico Department of Finance. While some Puerto Ricans only need to file with the Puerto Rico tax authorities, others may need to file with both the IRS and Puerto Rico’s tax agency. This nuance is especially important regarding capital gains, interest, and dividends, as these are often subject to different tax treatment depending on the source of income and the investor’s tax residency status.

For individuals moving their financial assets to Puerto Rico, it’s worth noting that a U.S. bank may still withhold taxes on interest and dividends even if you are a bona fide resident of Puerto Rico. To avoid undue U.S. tax withholding, consider submitting an IRS Form W-8BEN-E to your bank certifying your status as a non-U.S. person for tax purposes.

When it comes to capital gains, the treatment may vary depending on whether the gains were realized before or after becoming a resident of Puerto Rico. In some cases, capital gains on assets acquired before establishing residency might be subject to U.S. taxation, while gains on assets acquired after becoming a resident may benefit from Puerto Rico’s favorable tax treatment.

To establish bona fide residency in Puerto Rico, a person must meet certain requirements, such as spending at least 183 days in Puerto Rico in a year and not having a tax home in another country. Meeting these requirements can help secure tax advantages available to Puerto Rican residents.

In summary, when applying for residency in Puerto Rico, it’s essential to remain informed about the nuances of handling U.S. and Puerto Rico taxes. By carefully considering your tax situation and adhering to the appropriate requirements, you’ll be well-positioned to enjoy the benefits of Puerto Rican residency while avoiding potentially costly mistakes.

Leveraging Act 60 Tax Exemptions and Incentives

Puerto Rico’s Act 60 offers various tax exemptions and incentives designed to attract individuals and businesses to the island. Generally aimed at promoting economic development, these tax benefits can result in substantial savings on income taxes and other financial advantages.

One prominent feature of Act 60 is the Export Services incentive. This provision empowers businesses, particularly those focused on services, to benefit from a 4% income tax rate on their gross revenue. In addition, dividends and distributions from eligible export services firms are 100% tax-exempt. Businesses considering relocation should examine how Act 60’s export services incentives might align with their current operations and future plans.

The Individual Resident Investor provision under Act 60 provides significant tax advantages for qualifying individuals. They can enjoy a 100% exemption on income derived from interest and dividends earned after becoming a bona fide resident of Puerto Rico. This can lead to substantial tax savings for those with significant investment income.

To reap these tax benefits, one must meet Act 60’s bona fide residency requirements, which include the presence test, tax home test, and closer connection test. Meeting these criteria helps ensure individuals and businesses can maximize their potential tax savings while complying with necessary regulations.

Local municipalities in Puerto Rico can also offer additional tax incentives, depending on the nature of the business or individual circumstances. For example, some municipalities may offer partial or full exemptions on property taxes or municipal license taxes.

In summary, Act 60 offers attractive tax exemptions and incentives to individuals and businesses, fostering investment and economic development in Puerto Rico. Leveraging these tax advantages requires understanding and meeting the specific requirements, thus ensuring a smooth transition and maximizing the financial benefits of residency on the island.

Evaluating the Cost of Living

When considering residency in Puerto Rico, it’s important to evaluate the cost of living as it can significantly impact your financial wellbeing. This beautiful island has its own unique lifestyle, which can directly affect everyday expenses like housing, healthcare, public transportation, and infrastructure.

One of the first aspects to consider is the cost of living index. The national average is 100, and a higher number indicates a more expensive location, while a lower number represents a more affordable area. Puerto Rico’s cost of living may vary depending on the region, so it’s essential to research specific neighborhoods and cities using platforms like Sperling’s BestPlaces.

Good healthcare is vital for both residents and expats. Although Puerto Rico’s healthcare system has improved over the years, there are still significant differences compared to mainland US cities. Costs for basic medical services, such as doctor’s appointments, may vary depending on the area. For example, the average cost of a doctor’s appointment in Rockford, Illinois, is $139, compared to $75 in Bloomington, Indiana, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research. Researching local healthcare costs and facilities before relocating can help you make an informed decision.

Another essential consideration is transportation. Public transport in Puerto Rico is generally less expensive than mainland US cities, but the infrastructure might not be as developed, resulting in less frequent and comprehensive services. Assessing transportation options and costs, such as buses, taxis, and car expenses, can help you determine what’s suitable for your daily needs.

Finally, evaluate the local economy. Puerto Rico has been facing a challenging economic landscape, but various opportunities are available for those willing to adapt. Remember that adjusting to a new economy can take time, so it’s essential to have a well-thought-out plan and realistic expectations when moving to a new location.

By taking the time to research and thoroughly evaluate the cost of living in Puerto Rico, you can avoid common mistakes and better prepare yourself for the transition to island life while ensuring it’s financially feasible for your unique situation.

Additional Considerations for U.S. Citizens

When applying for residency in Puerto Rico, U.S. citizens should be aware of a few key points to make the process as smooth as possible. By keeping these considerations in mind, applicants can avoid common pitfalls and better prepare for their new life in Puerto Rico.

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that U.S. citizens are not required to apply for Puerto Rican citizenship, as Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory and Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens by birth. This means that moving to Puerto Rico does not involve a complex citizenship process. However, U.S. citizens may still choose to obtain a Puerto Rican Citizenship Certificate if they desire.

Next, U.S. citizens should carefully research taxation and residency requirements specific to Puerto Rico. Since the island has its own unique tax laws, understanding these regulations will help prevent any future legal or financial issues. Seeking advice from a qualified tax professional or legal counsel is always recommended to ensure compliance with Puerto Rican tax laws.

Additionally, when looking for housing and establishing a new residence in Puerto Rico, it’s essential to verify that all necessary documents are in order, including a valid U.S. passport and any other identification documents. Having these items readily available will streamline the process of renting or purchasing property.

Lastly, it’s important to be mindful of Puerto Rico’s culture and customs. Embracing the Puerto Rican way of life will not only make the transition to living on the island smoother but will also contribute to a positive experience for both U.S. citizens and the local community.

In summary, U.S. citizens applying for residency in Puerto Rico should be prepared by understanding the unique aspects of living in a U.S. territory, being knowledgeable about local tax laws, having proper documentation, and embracing the culture of their new home.

Preparing for Life in Puerto Rico

Relocating to Puerto Rico can be an exciting adventure, but it’s important to be prepared for the changes and challenges that may come with it. When considering a move to the island, one should be aware of factors such as language, culture, climate, and the potential for hurricanes.

Puerto Rico’s primary language is Spanish, though many residents also speak English. If you’re not already fluent in Spanish, it’s a good idea to start learning before your move. This will help you better integrate into the local culture and make day-to-day tasks easier. Additionally, take some time to familiarize yourself with Puerto Rican culture, such as food, music, and traditions, to feel more at home on the island.

The climate in Puerto Rico is tropical, with warm temperatures year-round. While this may sound appealing, it’s essential to consider the risk of hurricanes when planning your move. The island is no stranger to hurricanes, and Hurricane Maria in 2017 serves as a reminder of the potential damage that can occur. Make sure to research hurricane preparedness and choose a residence with safety features in mind.

Another factor to consider when relocating to Puerto Rico is your primary place of employment. If you will be working on the island, research job opportunities and ensure that you have a plan in place before your move. For remote workers, it’s important to familiarize yourself with any tax implications and residency requirements.

Finally, don’t forget to factor in the overall cost of living in Puerto Rico. While the island generally has a lower cost of living than the mainland US, some areas may be more expensive than others. Be prepared to budget for costs such as housing, utilities, groceries, and transportation.

By taking the time to consider and prepare for factors such as language, culture, climate, and potential hurricane risks, you’ll be better equipped to enjoy a smooth transition to life in Puerto Rico.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are common tax-related errors when applying for residency?

One common tax-related mistake is failing to understand and meet the various requirements for establishing bona fide residency. This includes passing the presence test, the tax home test, and the closer connection test. Meeting these requirements will help ensure that you pay reduced tax rates under Act 60 rather than regular U.S. taxes on Puerto Rican-earned income1.

How can one meet the closer connection test?

The closer connection test is the most subjective of the three residency tests. It evaluates whether an individual maintains closer ties to Puerto Rico or the mainland United States. To meet this test, it is important to establish strong connections to Puerto Rico, such as having a primary residence, social connections, and even joining local clubs or volunteer organizations2.

What are Act 22 and Act 60 requirements?

Act 22, now reformed into Act 60, is a Puerto Rican law that offers incentives to attract outside investors to the island. To qualify for these benefits, new residents must pass the Puerto Rico bona fide residency tests and should not have been a resident of Puerto Rico within the last 15 years3.

What should one be aware of while living in Puerto Rico?

When living in Puerto Rico, it’s essential to adhere to the requirements for maintaining bona fide residency, as well as local laws and customs. Additionally, it’s important to be respectful of the local culture, language, and environment. Be prepared for a different lifestyle compared to the mainland United States, including differences in infrastructure and availability of certain goods and services.

What is the process for non-residents selling property?

Before selling a property in Puerto Rico, non-residents should ensure that the property is free from any encumbrances, such as debts, liens, easements, or undisclosed owners4. It’s crucial to work with a licensed realtor who can provide assistance with the property title and guide the seller through the process.

What are the main criteria for getting residency?

To obtain Puerto Rican residency, an individual must meet several criteria, including being present in Puerto Rico for a minimum of 183 days in the tax year5. Additionally, the applicant must pass the tax home test, by having their primary place of business or employment in Puerto Rico, as well as the closer connection test mentioned earlier.


  1. https://relocatepuertorico.com/irs-residency-requirements-for-puerto-rico
  2. https://relocatepuertorico.com/how-to-obtain-a-puerto-rican-citizenship-certificate
  3. https://relocatepuertorico.com/15-things-to-know-before-moving-to-puerto-rico-for-act-20-and-act-22
  4. https://relocatepuertorico.com/puerto-rico-real-estate-mistakes-to-avoid
  5. https://www.7thheavenproperties.com/2020/07/puerto-rico-residency

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