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Costa Rica – Basic documentation to obtain a permit or residence in Costa Rica
Publications || 2019 || Costa Rica – Basic documentation to obtain a permit or residence in Costa Rica

Costa Rica – Basic documentation to obtain a permit or residence in Costa Rica

by charbds, 11 February, 2019

February 11, 2019
Joaquín Acuña / jacuna@bdsasesores.com
Partner BDS Costa Rica

There is a number of categories available in Costa Rica to apply for a residence, special permit, or authorization to stay in the country, each of them involving certain requirements and documents necessary for the relevant application.

There are certain documents, however, that will be considered key and necessary for almost any procedure, which is why it is important for foreign individuals to try to obtain said documents before reaching the offices of the General Immigration and Foreigners Agency (DGME). For further clarity, it must be noted that said documents are classified in those brought before entering the Costa Rican territory and those to be procured when in Costa Rica.

The documents to be brought when entering the country include birth certificate and criminal records. The birth certificate will be documentary evidence allowing the DGME to confirm the person’s identity, which is why it should be issued in his/her country of origin.

As for the criminal records, this document is subject to a special requirement consisting in the fact that it must be issued by the relevant authority in the country in which the foreigner has lived during the past 3 years; if the applicant lived in his/her country of origin, only those criminal records will be necessary, but if the applicant lived in another country, he/she must also provide the document under which the applicant was authorized to validly stay in said country.

These documents are subject to 2 essential requirements, that is, the validity time and the Apostille. In terms of the first requirement, if the document fails to indicate a validity date thereof, the DGME will consider it valid if the passport was issued no less than 6 months in advance to the time it is submitted.

The second and most important requirement consists in ensuring the documents have been certified with the Apostille in the country of issue. But, what is the Apostille? The Apostille is a certification under which the document is authenticated for use in foreign countries.

Depending on the category for which the foreigner is applying, and particularly in the case of work permit applications, certifications, academic certificates, letters, among others must be submitted to prove the applicant’s preparation and experience; these documents must be also certified with the Apostille, which is why it is important to review the requirements relevant to the category for which the person is applying.

As for the documents that must be procured in the country, these documents primarily include: fingerprint records and consular record or registration.

The first document is very simple, as the appointment to obtain it can be requested online through the website of the Ministry of Public Safety; in this case, the main requirement will be the submission of a valid passport in good condition. During this process, the applicant will be asked to provide personal information and then his/her fingerprints will be taken.

On the other hand, the consular registration is conducted with the Embassy or Consulate of the applicant’s country of origin located in Costa Rica.  Not every country has consular representation in the Costa Rican territory; thus, any applicants without consular representation in Costa Rica will not be required to submit this document. In case of a consular representation, the requirements to proceed with said registration will be established by the relevant Embassy or Consular office.

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