Naturalized Costa Rican Citizenship by Marriage
As an American citizen, after marrying my Costa Rican husband and researching the options, I knew that I would apply for Costa Rican citizenship. The advantages are many – I’d be a full citizen with voting rights, I wouldn’t have to renew residency ever again, and I would be able to travel on a Costa Rican passport. Furthermore, both the United States and Costa Rica recognize dual citizenship, so I would be an equal citizen of both countries. My decision was also sentimental, as Costa Rica is the home I have chosen, and being a citizen was an important step in my personal journey.
In 2009, the National Registrar announced that approximately 400 foreigners are granted Costa Rican citizenship every month. The majority of applicants are from Central America – Nicaragua, Panama, and El Salvador, among others – but Americans, Canadians and British citizens also appear on the list.
Naturalized citizenship through marriage to a Costa Rican is surprisingly easy to obtain. Seventy-five percent of applications are based on marriage to a Costa Rican, and the National Registrar, not Immigration, handles the process. Per a 1995 amendment, Costa Rican citizenship may never be lost and is not renounceable. Likewise, Costa Rica does not require naturalized citizens to renounce their previous citizenship(s), so unless your home country expressly prohibits dual citizenship, you will be an equal citizen of Costa Rica and your home nation.
To apply for naturalized citizenship through marriage to a Costa Rican, you must be over 18 years old and present the following to the National Registrar:
- A written request, in Spanish, for citizenship. Generic text is available online or at the National Registrar.
- A certified color copy of your current identification, most likely your passport.
- A clean criminal record history.
- Proof that you have resided in Costa Rica for two years. To do so, you must present a certification of entries and exits from Immigration.
- Five recent passport-sized photos.
- If you have legal residency, you must also present a copy and the original of your official government ID (cedula de residencia).
Your citizenship request will take between six months and two years. When completed, you will attend a naturalization ceremony, and will be issued a new cedula. This identification will indicate that you are a citizen, and you will be required to list two last names (your father’s last name followed by your mother’s maiden name). If you wish, you may also apply for a Costa Rican passport. Congratulations on becoming a citizen of Costa Rica!