Applying for residency in Honduras is a relatively straightforward procedure. You cannot apply personally as you must be represented by a Honduran attorney registered with the national bar association. Your attorney will process all of your application paperwork through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
There are two primary options, with several less common options, for obtaining your residency in Honduras. Neither option requires you to denounce your citizenship of any other country, they solely allow for you to be a permanent resident of Honduras. You should apply for residency if you want to stay in Roatan more than 90 days at any time, but you must spend at least 6 months/year to maintain residency.
The first option for residency is for retirees or pensioners. There are two categories under this umbrella, the first being a general Retiree with proof of monthly income of at least $1,500 (e.g. Social Security benefits). The other retiree category is called a Rentista, which requires proof of monthly income from interest or investment returns of at least $2,500 (e.g. rental property income back in the U.S. or Canada). There is no age minimum to qualify for either of the retiree residency options. It typically takes about 6-9 months to process all of the paperwork and receive the residency approval.
If you are granted residency as a retiree, you are entitled to additional benefits. After receiving residency status, your lawyer can apply for two dispensas or certificates of tax dispensations: one for importation of one vehicle and another for importation of personal household items. Legal fees for these dispensas are in addition to residency application. Vehicles cost about another $400 for such fees as license plates, registration, and title. To apply for a vehicle dispensa you must have a notarized Bill of Sale and the original Vehicle Title. The vehicle must be less than seven years old and in working condition to apply for household goods.
The second option for residency is for workers. Under this umbrella there are also two primary options, one for entrepreneurs and one for key employees. If you start or buy a business in Honduras, you must start a corporation, through which you can obtain your residency. The process usually takes around six months after your corporation has been approved or purchased.
Key employees also have the option of applying for their residency through their work. A key employee must have identifiable proof of their qualifications to do their job. Licenses, certifications, and diplomas all qualify as identifiable proof. For example, a chef with a diploma from Le Cordon Bleu could be considered a key employee at a restaurant, but a good cook does not qualify.
For all residency options, throughout the time it takes to apply and receive the approval you are required to abide by your tourist visa limitations. This means you are required to leave the country within 90 days of arrival and stay outside of the country for a minimum of 72 hours. You will have to do this one or two times while your application is being processed. For all residency options, you are required to present specific paperwork, including an Apostilled police report from your country of origin. If you are applying for Retiree Residency, you must bring with you Apostilled or authenticated proof of income as well. The Apostille is a simpler and less expensive process than the authentication since they can be done at the Secretary of State office in the USA. For Canadians and others who have not adopted the Hague Convention, an authentication of the documents must be done at the nearest Honduran Consulate. This means you must go to the Honduran Consulate in person in Canada to receive the proper paperwork. Doing so before arriving in Roatan will save you the additional trip. For more information and a list of which countries can use the Apostille system, see www.apostille.com.