Date of entry into force:

Article 1

Costa Ricans at birth are:

(1) The child of a Costa Rican father or mother born in the territory of the Republic;

(2) The child of a Costa Rican father or mother at birth who was born outside the territory of Costa Rica and who is registered as such by the Registration Office, according to the will of its Costa Rican parent while under age, or by the individual himself up to the age of twenty-five;

(3) The child of alien parents, born in Costa Rica, who is registered as Costa Rican, according to the will of any of his parents while under age, or by the individual himself up to the age of twenty-five;

(4) Any foundling discovered in Costa Rica.

Article 2

Costa Ricans after naturalisation are:

(1) Those who have acquired that status in accordance with former laws;

(2) The nationals of other countries of Central America, of good conduct and who, after at least one year of residence in the Republic, express before the Registration Office their decision to become Costa Rican;

(3) Spanish or Ibero-Americans at birth, who have obtained from the Registration Office the respective card, provided that they had their domicile in the country for at least two years before their application;

(4) The Central Americans, Spanish and Ibero-Americans, who were not so at birth, and other aliens who have had their domicile in Costa Rica for at least five years preceding their application for naturalisation, in accordance with the requirements of the law;

(5) The alien wife of a Costa Rican, who, by marrying a Costa Rican, has lost her nationality or who desires to become Costa Rican;

(6) Those who receive honorary nationality from the Legislative Assembly.

Article 3

Costa Rican nationality can be lost:

(1) Upon acquisition of another nationality;

(2) If a naturalised Costa Rican voluntarily leaves the country for more than six consecutive years, except if he can prove that he is still linked to the State.

Article 4

The loss of Costa Rican nationality does not affect the spouse or child who still enjoy their Costa Rican nationality, unless they lose it according to article 16 of the Constitution. The acquisition of Costa Rican nationality does not affect the spouse who will retain his nationality unless he seeks for his naturalisation, in accordance with this law. The acquisition of Costa Rican nationality by the father or mother affects the minor children who had their domicile in Costa Rica at the time when the acquisition of Costa Rican nationality took place. For that purpose, in the act or afterwards, but in any case before reaching the majority age by the children, their names, dates and places of birth as well as their domiciles must be established before the Registration Office. After their majority and before they reach the age of twenty-five, the children will have the right to renounce their Costa Rican nationality before the Registration Office. If they reach the age of twenty-five without having renounced, they will continue to be naturalised Costa Ricans.

Article 5

The Costa Rican who would have lost his nationality could regain it:

(1) In the case of article 3, paragraph 1, if he can prove that he had been so at birth, by means of renunciation of his new nationality, personally or through a specified representative, expressed before the Registration Office which will register him as a naturalised Costa Rican. If it is a question of a naturalised Costa Rican, by means of a new naturalisation; or

(2) In the case of article 3, paragraph 2, finding himself again in the original required condition, by making a new application followed by a new naturalisation. However, if that loss of link was the consequence of a declaration of loss or annulment of the nationality caused by "force majeure" or for other reasons beyond the will of the concerned person, that person will be able to describe those circumstances, in written form before the Registration Office, asking for the annulment of the relevant declaration. All documents proving that his request is justified shall be enclosed. The Registration officer will have the right to obtain essential information and documents, when convenient.

The request will give the State the possibility to hear anyone who would possess any relevant information concerning the ideology and antecedents of the applicant. At the end of the hearing or when the prescribed time for answer expires, the Registration officer will give his decision against which an appeal may be made before a senior officer within five days. If the decision reverses the annulment, it shall mean that the applicant will not have the right to complain to the State, not even in the case the annulment was declared illegal, in so far as the initial request implies renunciation of all complaints against the State.

Article 6

If the laws of the State on which depends her husband, prevent the Costa Rican woman from acquiring his nationality, she shall keep her Costa Rican nationality. If, on the contrary, she should lose her nationality in accordance with those laws, she shall, after the end of the marriage and upon return to the State, regain her Costa Rican nationality at birth or naturalisation, according to her former status before the marriage. In any case, at the moment of her marriage, the Costa Rican woman has to express herself regarding her desired future nationality, so that the Registration Office may record it. To regain her nationality, she will have to renounce her husband's nationality and appear, personally or through a specified representative in the country, before the Registration Office.

Article 7

Children younger than twenty-one, of Costa Rican father or mother at birth, who would, by decision of their Costa Rican parents, have lost their nationality, shall be able, once they reached majority, up to the age of twenty-five, ask for their status of Costa Rican at birth by making a declaration before the Registration Office, personally or through a specified representative, , bringing with them the evidence of their situation. If, at the moment of reaching the majority age they were residing in the Republic and were employed at any public work, they would be considered as Costa Rican at birth without needing any further formality. The same would apply to minors of Costa Rican mother at birth who would have lost their nationality, even if legitimated by an alien father.

Article 8

The rule according to which a child is considered as born since the moment he was conceived, may be effectively used by anyone who wishes to acquire or keep his Costa Rican nationality.

Article 9

In the case of Article 13, paragraph 2 of the Constitution, the Costa Rican parent, as long as the child is under age, can, personally or through a specified representative, act in order to have his child considered as Costa Rican at birth.

Article 10

In the case of article 13, paragraph 3 of the Constitution, any of the parents will be able to appear, personally or through a specified representative, before the Registration Office, as long as the child is under age, to ask for the registration of the child as Costa Rican at birth. The Registration Office, in this case and in that of the preceding article, in view of the certificate of birth, will deliver the appropriate documents to the individual. The same formality would be followed by an individual, older than twenty-one but younger than twenty-five, who would choose Costa Rican nationality.

Article 11

Any alien can be naturalised in the Republic if he can justify, before the Registration Office, through its Departments of Option and Naturalisation and offices created by the "Supreme Elections Tribunal" in the places it considers convenient, with intervention of the General Prosecutor of the Republic:

(1) That he is older than twenty-one;

(2) That he has had his domicile in Costa Rica for a certain term, predetermined for each foreign nationality, as provided for in Article 14 of the Constitution;

(3) That he has had a satisfactory conduct and , that he possesses a job, assets, pensions or other income sufficient to live and take care of his own obligations and those of his family, if any;

(4) That he has not been convicted during his stay in the country, for any offence, or condemned for repetitive offence;

(5) That he pays taxes in time, if taxable.

He shall moreover promise, in writing, to continue to reside regularly in the country, as well as to express, also in writing, his renunciation of his previous nationality, if necessary. To fulfill the first provision, the applicant will only have to present his residence permit. As an evidence for 2) and 3), the declaration of four witnesses, whose worthiness has been recognised, must be presented. Those declarations shall be made before the Registration Office, the Governor, the Prefect (Jefe Politico), a senior police officer or the regional Office of the witnesses' area. Notwithstanding, the concerned person shall present all the documentary evidence he possesses. As an evidence for (5), he will enclose the corresponding receipts or certificates from the respective offices. He shall bring a certificate from the Criminal Record Office, stating that he has never been condemned for any offence during his stay in the country. Notwithstanding the general provisions of this law, the applications for naturalisation from persons older than twenty-five, will be dealt with in a specific manner and the Director of the Registration Office will record them without any other formality than their promise to reside regularly in the Republic and the evidence that:

(a) they were born in Costa Rica

(b) they have had their domicile in the country for a certain period, predetermined for each foreign nationality, as provided for in article 14 of the Constitution.

(c) they have a satisfactory behaviour and receive recognised income.

To fulfill provision a), a birth certificate, provided by the Registration Office shall be enclosed with the request. As evidence for (b) and (c), a declaration by four witnesses, whose worthiness is recognised, shall be presented to the Governor, the Prefect's Office or the Registration officer. Notwithstanding, the concerned person shall present all the documentary evidence he may possess or that the Registration Office may ask for.

Article 12

The request for naturalisation, taking into account the provisions of the previous article, shall be signed and presented by the applicant or his specified representative, to the Department of Option and Naturalisation of the Registration Office or any of its regional offices. The written request shall be authenticated according to the law .

Article 13

The Registration Office has to produce a public notice of the naturalisation request, giving for ten days the possibility for anyone who would have justified objections to it, to be heard. Within this period the Minister of Public Security or any other public authority may inform the Registration Office of their substantiated opposition.

Article 14

Whatever the opposition or objection, the applicant shall be heard within eight days. If he can bring any evidence in his favour, it will be received, or the appropriate judge will be appointed to evaluate it. After hearing or receiving the evidence, the Registration Office shall make a decision on the case, authorising or denying the naturalisation. That declaration shall be appealable before the "Supreme Elections Tribunal" within five days from the day of notification. That notification, as in the case of any decision of the Registration Office, shall be sent by registered post to the indicated office or to the domicile of the parties. If not appealed against, it will go to the Tribunal which, in view of the inquiries, could review the case and make the corresponding decision.

Article 15

Naturalisation cannot be authorised:

(1) If it appears that the applicant possesses the nationality of a State with which Costa Rica is at war;

(2) If it is proved that the applicant has acted as political or religious agitator, inside or outside the country, or that he has been condemned abroad for fraud, robbery, arson, money or credit paper falsification or for any other offence of same or higher gravity, according to corresponding Codes.

Article 16

Once the decision is final, the change of nationality shall be recorded in a special register, an act which shall be signed by both the Director of the Registration Office and the concerned person or his specified representative. Afterwards, the naturalisation card, once signed by the Director of the Registration Office, will be sent. The act of naturalisation, as well as the card, shall bear a photograph of the concerned person. Furthermore, the card shall bear a fiscal stamp valued at two hundred colones (200.00 C), as well as a Tribunal stamp. If the applicant is Central American at birth, the fiscal stamp will be of twenty colones (20.00 C) Aliens who can deliver evidence that they have been residing in Costa Rica for at least twenty-five years will be exempted from paying for the stamp to which this law refers.

Article 17

The change of nationality has no retroactive effect.

Article 18

The naturalisation of an alien, obtained by fraud, in violation of the provisions of this law, will be null and void. As a consequence, whenever it is proved that a naturalised individual, when asking and obtaining his card, gave any false data or has been condemned for one of the offences referred to in article 15, paragraph 2 of this law, or that the aim of his naturalisation was to spread doctrines or totalitarian methods contrary to the democratic system, the Registration Office, through information collected by its agents at the initiative of the Prosecution and after hearing the individual, shall annul the naturalisation card if the charge is justified. The decision will be appealable before the "Supreme Elections Tribunal" within five days after the notification.

Article 19

Aliens enjoy the same individual and social rights and duties as Costa Ricans with exception and limitations established by the Constitution and the laws. They cannot intervene in the political affairs of the country and are under the jurisdiction of the authorities and tribunals of the Republic, without any possibility of diplomatic appeal, with the exceptions provided for by international instruments.

Article 20

Aliens are exempted from national service. However, those who have their domicile in Costa Rica will have to do the "Police Service" concerning the part dealing with the security of properties or public order maintenance.

Article 21

As they do not enjoy political rights, aliens shall not vote or be eligible for any elective mandate nor be nominated to any work or function which include civil or political authority or jurisdiction, nor associate to intervene in the political life of the Republic, nor take any part in it, nor exercise a right of petition in that area.

Article 22

Aliens have the obligation to contribute towards public spendings as provided by the law as well as to obey and respect laws and authorities of the State.

Article 23

The provisions of international treaties prevail upon national regulations concerning citizenship, alien status, naturalisation, rights and duties of aliens.

Article 24

The law n° 25 of May, 13, 1889 and its later amendments are abrogated.

This is an unofficial translation published in Nationality and Statelessness, A Collection of National Laws, Volume I, Independent Bureau for Humanitarian Affairs, Ferney Voltaire, France, 1996. This document includes only selected provisions. With the kind permission of the Independent Bureau for Humanitarian Affairs.

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.