Immigration to Costa Rica and the Apostille Requirement
The 1961 Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents has 91 members, among them, Costa Rica and the United States.
Since October 15, 1981, the United States has been part of the Hague Convention and Costa Rica joined on the 27th of January, 2011. The Convention provides for the simplified certification of public documents to be used in countries that have joined the Convention. If your country is not part of the 1961 Hague Convention, you must legalize the document (Legalization or Apostille?).
For example: If you need a legalization for a Canadian document for use in Costa Rica, you will need to authenticate the document by the Foreign Affairs in Canada, then by the Embassy of Costa Rica in Canada, and finally by the Ministry of Foreign Affair in Costa Rica, since Canada has not signed the Hague Apostille Convention.
What is an apostille and why do I need it in my documents?
An apostille is a seal applied to a certified document to signify its legal authenticity for international use under the terms of the 1961 Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirements of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents. Signatory countries have agreed to recognize public documents issued by other signatory countries, if those public documents are authenticated by the attachment of an internationally recognized form of authentication known as an “apostille”. The apostille ensures that the public document issued in one signatory country will be recognized as valid in all the other signatory countries. The apostille requires no further diplomatic or consular legalization.
What does the apostille certificate look like?
An apostille is placed directly on the document to be authenticated in the form of a 9×9 centimeter stamp and must always be title “Apostille” (Hague Convention of 1961). A standard apostille contains a seal and 10 mandatory references:
- The name of the country from which the document emanates.
- The name of the person signing the document.
- The capacity in which the person signing the document has acted, in case of unsigned documents.
- The name of the authority that has affixed the seal or stamp.
- Place of certification.
- Date of certification.
- The authority issuing the certificate.
- Number of certificate.
- Seal or stamp of authority issuing certificate.
- Signature of authority issuing certificate.
This is an example picture of an Apostille:
So, if I am applying for residency in Costa Rica, will I need my documents with an apostille?
Yes. Article 9 of the Immigration Regulations established that in the case of public documents issued abroad, they should be presented with an apostille certification, which will give them a full authenticity regarding the signature, seal, and stamp consigned to them, as established in the Hague Convention of 1961.
What happens if I was born in California, got married in Las Vegas, and divorced in Costa Rica?
For this situation, you will need to get a certified birth certificate and apostille from California, a certified marriage certificate and apostille from Las Vegas; and an official divorce certificate and apostille from Costa Rica. One apostille per document is required. It is unacceptable to secure one apostille for an entire lot, even if the birth, marriage, and divorce certificates are from the same location.
OLS Documents can help you with the apostille process. We will need you to send us the original document to one of our offices. Afterwards, we will ship the document to our Orlando office and our colleagues will send it to the according department for the apostille. The timelines for the apostille will vary from state to state. The cost for the services is ~$200 USD.