Costa Rica: Whether a "Documento de Identidad y Viaje" and a "Cédula de Residencia" are proof that a foreigner has permanent resident status
|Publisher||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||1 April 1999|
|Citation / Document Symbol||CRI31670.E|
|Cite as||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Costa Rica: Whether a "Documento de Identidad y Viaje" and a "Cédula de Residencia" are proof that a foreigner has permanent resident status, 1 April 1999, CRI31670.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ac8e44.html [accessed 25 January 2015]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
The following information was provided by an official at the Passport Department of the Ministry of Public Security of Costa Rica, the authority that issues legal travel documents of Costa Rica, during a 29 April 1999 telephone interview.
The Identity and Travel Document (Documento de Indentidad y Viaje) is issued whenever a foreigner cannot obtain a passport or salvoconducto (laissez-passer, described below and in previous Responses). There are two kinds of Identity and Travel Document. The more common one is a small green booklet similar to a passport, which is issued to foreign permanent residents of Costa Rica who cannot obtain a passport from the authorities of their country of origin, usually because of a lack of diplomatic or consular representation in Costa Rica. The other kind of Identity and Travel Document is a one-page form issued to visitors and temporary residents who lack a passport; it is similar to the salvoconducto, and different from the Identity and Travel Document green booklet issued to foreign permanent residents.
Both versions of the Travel and Identity Document are different from the Documento de Viaje (Travel Document), which is a special passport issued to persons who have received refugee status or political asylum. The Documento de Viaje is a blue passport, which is prepared by the UNHCR and given to the Directorate (Dirección) of the Passport Department, which is the issuing authority in Costa Rica.
The Consulate of Costa Rica in Montreal stated during a 26 April 1999 telephone interview that the Cédula de Residencia (Residence Card) is issued to foreigners who have legal residence status in Costa Rica. The card, a green document which must be renewed every year, should state whether the holder has temporary or permanent resident status (ibid.). The consulate does not issue a travel document called Documento de Identidad y Viaje (Travel and Identity Document). However, Costa Rican authorities in Costa Rica and overseas can issue a one-time use or specific-purpose salvoconducto (laissez-passer) to Costa Ricans or foreigners who lack a passport, under certain circumstances; this constitutes a travel and identity document, although it is called salvoconducto, not Documento de Identidad y Viaje (ibid.).
The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Costa Rica stated during a 27 April 1999 telephone interview that the travel document issued to refugees under the authority of the Geneva Convention has a blue cover with two black stripes, and is issued only to persons who have political asylum or refugee status in Costa Rica (ibid.).
Both temporary and permanent foreign residents of Costa Rica are issued a Cédula de Residencia, a green document which usually indicates the status of the holder. Persons with refugee status in Costa Rica are temporary residents, but receive a special refugee identity card (carnet or carné de refugiado), which is different from the Cédula de Residencia. The carné de refugiado bears the seal of the "Dirección General de Migración, Departamento de Refugiados" (ibid.). Both temporary and permanent foreign residents of Costa Rica have to renew their documents every year (ibid.). A person who has a Cédula de Residencia cannot have at the same time refugee status and a refugee identity card (ibid.). Foreigners who have resided in Costa Rica with any legal residence status for two consecutive years can request permanent residence, while persons who have legally resided five years in Costa Rica can request Costa Rican citizenship (ibid.).
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please see below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this information request.
Consulate of Costa Rica, Montreal. 26 April 1999. Telephone interview with consular officer.
Public Security Ministry, Passport Department, San José. 29 April 1999. Telephone interview with official.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, San José. 27 April 1999. Telephone interview with protection officer.
Additional Sources Consulted
La Nación Online [San José].
The Passport Handbook. 1998.
World Refugee Survey. 1994-1998.
Electronic Sources: IRB Databases, REFWORLD, Internet, WNC.
This list is not exhaustive. It does not include country and subject-specific publications available