Who Can Obtain the Costa Rican Nationality and How To Do It?

    A guide with the requirements for those who wish to become nationalized as Costa Ricans

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    Since 2013 and until October 2023, Costa Rica has naturalized 50,433 foreigners. These come from 116 countries and territories, some of them as familiar as Central America or the United States, and others from more distant countries such as New Zealand, Sudan or Mongolia.

    Magaly López is Nicaraguan and has lived in Costa Rica for 30 years. She moved with her parents, also Nicaraguan, when she was a three-year-old girl, and is excited because she will soon become a Costa Rican citizen, meaning she will have dual nationality. “I started the process two months ago. I investigated the requirements, I had to travel to Nicaragua to obtain some necessary documents, now I am waiting for the response from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal,” she says about the naturalization process.

    Naturalization is – according to the Royal Spanish Academy – to admit a foreign person into a country, as if they were a native, granting them the rights and imposing the duties of the citizens of that country. That is, it is the process by which a citizen acquires the nationality of a second country.

    Different from Permanent Residency

    “I did it until now due to lack of information… Unlike residency, this condition is almost not mentioned or known, there is no effort on the part of the corresponding institutions to promote it,” says López, who acquired permanent residency and had maintained that immigration category until recently, renewing it from time to time.

    The first years of being in Costa Rica he had to renew his ID annually, then every two years and then every five. “The price of the renewal is around 120 dollars, sometimes a little more, depending on how the exchange rate (of the Costa Rican colon) is, but you have to comply with the times, because if not they will charge you a fine based on the days expired,” he clarifies. Lopez.

    Another reason that made her doubt whether to acquire Costa Rican nationality is the roots she has towards her native country. It is very common to hear Nicaraguans in Costa Rica say: “I don’t want to stop being Nicaraguan,” explains López, because they do not see nationalization as an opportunity, but rather as a renunciation, even though Nicaraguan nationality should not be renounced. to obtain the Costa Rican one.

    Who can opt for nationality in Costa Rica?

    The TSE website explains that in Costa Rica all people born in the country to foreign parents, people born abroad to Costa Rican parents and those who have resided in the country for more than 20 years can be naturalized. Those who marry a Costa Rican person, those who have resided regularly in the country for a certain period, due to the transcendence of one of the parents can also acquire nationality – that is, when the father or mother has become a Costa Rican national, and the persons declared stateless or stateless refugees.

    In the case of López, she is completing his process to become nationalized for having resided in the country. “I had the longest and most cumbersome process,” she considers. All foreigners who have officially resided in Costa Rica with resident status uninterruptedly for at least five years can be nationalized when they are nationals of other Central American, Spanish or Ibero-American countries by birth; or seven years for any other nationality. In the case of Nicaraguans, it is five years, as they are Central Americans.

    The requirements, in that case, are the following, according to TSE documents:

    • Initial writing, that is, a letter made by the applicant requesting nationality. There is an example of it on the TSE website.
    • Email address or a physical address, as accurate as possible, to receive notifications.
    • Photocopy of the current identity document, which may be the migration and immigration identification document (DIMEX) or any other official document issued by the General Directorate of Migration and Immigration.
    • Birth certificate issued by the competent authority of the country of origin, duly legalized or apostilled and with the official translation into Spanish, if it is in a different language.
    • Affidavit of two witnesses.
    • Demonstrate means of living through proof of salary from a public or private company, employer order or certified public accountant certification.
    • Proof of passing the Spanish and Social Studies exams regarding Naturalization from the Ministry of Public Education, or validating degrees if the person completed their secondary education in the country.
    • Certification issued by the competent judicial and police authorities of the country of origin, or of the last country in which you have established your residence abroad.
    • Five passport-sized photographs and tax stamp.
    • Submit a sworn statement of not having repeated contraventions (less serious offenses) before an official of the Civil Registry, or before a public notary, duly protocolized.

    Other Options

    After submitting all the requirements indicated above, the person requesting naturalization by residence must withdraw the edict of law so that it can be published in the official newspaper La Gaceta. If it is not done within the indicated period, the application and the process will be rejected.

    For the naturalization of a person over 25 years of age, born abroad and son of a Costa Rican father or mother by birth, as well as for the person over 25 years of age, born in Costa Rica and son of foreign parents who have passed the age limit to make the option and did not do it, they only have to meet requirements 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10 mentioned above. Additionally, you must have your birth registered in the Civil Registry of Costa Rica and have remained in the country for at least five years in the case of Central Americans, Spaniards and Ibero-Americans, if they are of other nationalities it will be seven years.

    Naturalization by domicile of no less than twenty years in Costa Rica refers to what can be obtained by foreigners who demonstrate that they have lived in the country for a period of no less than 20 years and to process it they must comply with the other requirements.

    In the case of naturalization by marriage, the person must demonstrate having been married to a Costa Rican for at least two years and having remained in the country for that same period and for the process.

    Naturalization due to the transcendence of one of the parents is for those minors who are children of at least one person who has been naturalized as a Costa Rican and must present the other requirements.

    The other option is the naturalization of people declared to be stateless or stateless refugee, that is, all those people to whom the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship granted the status of stateless person or stateless refugee, who have officially resided in the country for two years. , counted from the date on which you requested the condition and only need to provide requirements 1, 2, 3 and 9.

    In addition to each of the requirements, indicates the TSE, documents must be presented that demonstrate roots in the country, such as: the report of contributions from the Costa Rican Social Security Fund, vaccines applied by the Ministry of Health or certification of studies carried out in Costa Rica.

    More rights and opportunities

    “Naturalization is a free process in this country, but it entails many expenses to process each of the requirements. It is worth the time and effort because naturalized I will have greater opportunities and rights,” says López, who will be able to exercise the right to vote when she is a Costa Rican citizen. He also highlights that being Costa Rican could bring you more access to work spaces, loans and housing options that are more difficult to acquire as a resident or foreigner.

    The process, once all the requirements have been delivered, takes ten months during which the TSE evaluates and verifies the documentation. “I am only waiting for those 200 days that the Court occupies to pass so that I can have my Costa Rican nationality in my hands, it is a great advance and of great convenience,” López concludes.

    Resonance Costa Rica
    At Resonance, we aspire to live in harmony with the natural world as a reflection of our gratitude for life. Visit and subscribe at Resonance Costa Rica Youtube Channel
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