Having a Baby in Costa Rica: Part 3, the Paperwork

Last Updated: May 15, 2020

In our other posts on having a baby in Costa Rica, we discuss prenatal care (Part 1), delivery at a small private hospital (Part 2), and second delivery at a larger private hospital in San Jose (CIMA post). In this article, we’ll go through the much less exciting, though important, topic of paperwork. It took us a while to figure out exactly how (and where) to get the documents we needed, so we thought we’d share our experience. Below you’ll find information on getting our two sons’ US citizenship documents and various Costa Rican documents.Paperwork After Having a Baby in Costa Rica

US Passport and Certificate of Birth Abroad

Background

A baby born in Costa Rica to at least one US citizen parent is a dual citizen, with citizenship rights to both Costa Rica and the United States. The baby is Costa Rican just by being born on Costa Rican soil. While the baby is also automatically a US citizen, you have to do some paperwork to have this formalized.

It is very important to get a Certificate of Birth Abroad from the US Embassy as proof that your baby is a US citizen. You can get this document, as well as your baby’s first US passport and social security card, from the US Embassy in San Jose. These documents can be obtained at the same time, and we found the process to be very efficient.

Be sure to make an appointment in advance on the US Embassy website for Costa Rica. Keep in mind that both parents and the child need to attend the appointment.

Requirements

The US Embassy website has all the forms you need to fill out, which we recommend doing in advance because they are very detailed. The website also has specific information on the documentation you will need to bring to the appointment. It is a lot of documents so be sure to go through the list carefully to avoid multiple trips to the Embassy. In general, you need:

  • An original copy of the baby’s birth certificate issued by the Civil Registry (more on how to get this below). *Note: The US Embassy accepted digital copies of the birth certificate for our second son who was born in 2019.
  • A statement from the doctor who attended the birth
  • Parents’ marriage certificate, and if either has been married previously, certified copies of documents showing that the prior marriage was terminated. These do not have to be apostilled.
  • Proof of parents’ US citizenship (you can use your passport)
  • Proof of parents’ physical presence in the US for the required period (they accepted our school transcripts for this requirement). See the Embassy website for specifics.
  • Evidence of a biological relationship between the US citizen parent and child
  • 1 passport-size photo of the baby (can be taken at the US Embassy on the day of your appointment for a small fee).

Embassy Appointment and Picking up Documents

You’ll bring all of these documents to the appointment, and Embassy staff will ask for them, along with your forms, in a certain order. They made copies of all of our documents and gave us back the originals.

Once your application is accepted, you’ll pay the required fees. You can choose to return to the US Embassy in San Jose for pick up or arrange delivery to your local Correos de Costa Rica (post office) for a small additional fee. It takes about a couple of weeks for the Certificate of Birth Abroad and passport to arrive at the Embassy. We chose the Correos method for pick up for our recent birth in 2019 and that took about a month total.

If you pick up in person at the Embassy, only one parent has to go and you don’t have to bring the baby.

They will mail the social security card separately, and we have found that it can take a while.

Cost: Passport- $115; Certificate of Birth Abroad- $100

Costa Rican Birth Certificate

Getting your baby’s Costa Rican birth certificate is a very straightforward process. Previously, you had to file a request online with the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones. Then you could pick it up in person at your nearest Registro Civil office. This service is no longer offered on the website, so as far as we can tell, getting digital copies is the only way now. 

Here is the link to the applicable page of the Tribunal Supreme de Elecciones’ website to request a digital copy. We did this in 2019 after our second baby was born and it was very easy. They come as PDFs sent to your email and you can pay with a credit or debit card. Each copy costs 1,575 colones (about $3). 

Permiso de Salida

Background

Before you can travel out of the country, you’ll need to obtain a permiso de salida (exit permission). This is required for all minor Costa Rican children, both citizens and legal residents. Basically, the point of this process is to prevent kids from being unlawfully taken out of Costa Rica. You will get to decide if only one parent can take the child out, if only both parents can together, or if either parent can alone. We decided on the either of us option for the most flexibility in case only one of us needs to travel.

Requirements

The Migracion website has excellent information on the process and what you need for documents. Take a look at the PDFs (all in Spanish but easy to translate through Google by uploading the entire document). There is a one-page form to fill out and various documents depending on your exact situation. Most recently for our second baby we needed:

  • 2 passport photos of the baby
  • Baby’s original passport and photocopy of the photo page 
  • ID documents of parents – If parents are not legal residents of Costa Rica, an original and copy of the first page of their passports and page with signature. If parents are residents, the original and a copy of their cedulas.
  • If you are getting permissions for more than one child, you will need multiple copies of the parents’ passports so that they have a copy for each child’s file.

Submitting the Paperwork

The form and documents need to be submitted in person (both parents in attendance but not the child) to Migracion. You can go to the main office in La Uruca (San Jose) or one of the regional offices listed. If you go to La Uruca, you will need to make an appointment in advance by calling Migracion’s call center at 1311 (postpaid local phone required; operators usually speak only Spanish).

Note: There is often a wait to get in at Migracion’s main office so don’t leave this until the last minute if you have travel plans coming up.

When you go to the office, the official will go through your paperwork and create a file. They’ll put the permission into the computer system so that when you leave the country, immigration can pull up the information. They will also give you a paper record in case the computer system is down (we recommend carrying this with you when you travel).

Traveling

Previously, before you could check in for your flight, you had to go to a separate desk at the airport to have them confirm that you have filed for the permiso de salida. Now, you don’t have to do this anymore. There’s no additional step and you can check in for your flight like normal.

If it’s emergency, we have also heard that you can file for the permiso de salida right at the airport as long as you bring all the required documents and both parents are present.

Cost: Free

Having a Baby in Costa Rica: Part 3, The Paperwork
Migracion Office in San Isidro de El General (note that the office has moved since the writing of this post)

Carnet

If you’re planning to use the public healthcare system, you will also need to get your baby’s carnet. Previously, you had to carry this with you for doctors’ appointments, but now everything is digital. So what you are doing now is getting your baby in the CCSS system.

We had a hard time figuring out where to go for this the first time around because the process isn’t uniform and depends on where you live in Costa Rica. We talked to some other parents who said that they got theirs at the local EBAIS clinic, but our clinic told us they didn’t issue them. For our first baby, we ended up having to go to the public hospital. The Oficina de Afiliacion at the hospital in San Isidro de El General issued the carnet. All we had to show was his birth certificate. For our second baby, we were able to do it at our local EBAIS, which is a larger one near Quepos. All we needed was the birth certificate and our cedulas.

Cost: Free

 

Getting your baby’s initial paperwork isn’t the most fun of chores, but once you figure out how to do it, it really isn’t that bad. Each step was more efficient than we expected, and a lot easier than some other things you have to do when you live in Costa Rica.

Have a question or want to share your experience about getting your baby’s initial documents? Leave a comment below.

Last Updated: May 15, 2020

Looking for more information about living in Costa Rica? Check out these posts:

Applying for Residency in Costa Rica Without a Lawyer: If you plan to apply for residency through the birth of your child, this post will take you through the process step by step.

House Sitting in Costa Rica: When we first moved to Costa Rica, we house sat and lived rent free, all while exploring some amazing places across the country. Read our guide on how we did it.

Having a Baby at Hospital CIMA: If you’re still deciding where to deliver, check out our newest having a baby post about the birth of our second child at CIMA in San Jose.

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89 Comments

    1. Hi Casey, Good question! Everything was actually faster than we expected. With the exception of the US passport and certificate of birth abroad, we got everything same day or within a couple of days. We did have to go back to Migracion because their office was closed randomly for a regional holiday the first time we went, but once we got in, they did it within a half hour. The biggest thing is to make your appointment at the US Embassy because sometimes they can be backed up. The first available appointment we could get was 2 weeks out, then we had to go for the initial application appointment, then go again 2 weeks later when the passport was ready. So if you have travel plans, it’s a good idea to start at least a couple of months early.

      1. Hello, the father of my child lives in South East Asia, I am American I plan to have my child in Costa Rica, the father and I are not married he is unable to go to Costa Rica will I be able to achieve completing all of the paper work, including exit permit for my child without the father present? Once again he is unable to go to Costa Rica it is nearly improssible thanks!!

        1. Hi Taylor, We’re not sure but think you would need something similar to a power of attorney if your partner cannot be present. See #11 of the newest requirements for the exit permit. For the birth abroad certificate and passport, contact the US Embassy or search their website.

  1. Do you know if you have to have an embassy appointment to pick up the passport once it’s come in — or can you just go pick it up when its ready?

    1. Hi Erin, You don’t need an appointment. They fit you in in between appointments and randomly call out at one of the windows for people picking up. Just make sure to get there before 11 a.m. We went later than that and almost weren’t able to get the passport.

  2. We are in the processes now, still unclear on one issue….
    Is the Costa Rican born baby allowed to leave the country on usa passport only? Or is it necessary to obtain a Costa rican passport as well? Thanks!

    1. Hi Andy, You can get whichever passport you want (or both). Each has different benefits in terms of if your baby will need a visa to enter different countries. We decided to just get a US passport for now because we figured that would be easiest for traveling to the US. And because our son was born in Costa Rica, it was obviously easy for him to get back into CR after- they wrote in his passport when they stamped him in that he is a DN, which we think means designated national. He didn’t get a certain number of days in the country like we did on our tourist visas. But it might be worth getting a CR passport at some point, since Costa Ricans don’t need to get visas to visit lots of places, including all of Central and S. America.

  3. Hi there! Congrats on your little guy and your choice to live the Pura Vida life…

    We had a few questions, as we will be going though this process in the coming months. Apart from getting papers for Sam Did you all apply for permanent resident status? Or if you have Any information for us….

    Also, could you comment on vaccinations?

    1. Hi Natasha, We actually just submitted our residency application last week. We’re doing it ourselves, without a lawyer. Overall it hasn’t been that hard so far, just a lot of work to get all the paperwork together and we had to do some research to figure out a couple of things. We are planning to write some blog posts about it, which will hopefully make it a little easier for others. If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to our blog here so that you get them when they come out.

      Vaccinations are required by law in Costa Rica and they are quite serious about kids getting them. We didn’t find it too crazy though- the types they give and schedule was almost identical to the U.S. There were just a couple that we couldn’t get through the local clinic (the Caja) and had to pay for through our private pediatrician. If you’re not comfortable with vaccinations, we know that there are ways around it because not everyone has their kids get them.

      1. Even if they’re able to illegally work their way around it, which I’ve never heard of, good luck finding a school, public or private, that will accept those time bomb unvaccinated kids. Just imagine them visiting the US and then coming back with measles and giving it to infants. We have a very strong herd immunity here in Costa Rica thanks to our mandatory vaccination schedule, so to anyone who ends up reading this, if you’re an anti-vaccine wacko please have your kids in the US, because WE DONT WANT THEM HERE.

          1. No, lady, demanding that people comply with our public health laws is not crazy at all. The crazy ones are the privileged first world hippies with these stupid and dangerous anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. All the kids in Costa Rica are vaccinated and they are fine, you don’t hear parents coming up with these nonsense Jenny McCarthy “boo hoo the vaccines messed up my kid” because guess what, it doesn’t happen! All I said was, if you don’t like vaccination and don’t want to comply with the public health laws that keep us safe, then don’t move here.

        1. My kids aren’t vaccinated. Coming to Costa Rica in a few days! But no worry. Your immunized and so is everyone else so your “IMMUNE” right and have no need to worry? Oh wait… That’s right.. Your not actually immune or safe from disease because immunizations don’t actually make you immune at all.. Lol

  4. Hi there! Thank you for all of the info- this post was so helpful. I am wondering if you know what other examples might qualify for “proof of parents’ physical presence in the U.S.”? We could have our college transcripts, but those are over 10 years old and I’m not sure if they would accept them. Thanks!

    1. Hi Jackie, Our college transcripts are over 10 years old and they took them no problem. Other docs are okay too if you don’t want to use transcripts. On the Embassy website they give examples of other things that would work. “Examples of documents that can be used to show physical presence include, but are not limited to, the following: school records; childhood immunization records; college transcripts; U.S. military service records; paystubs and tax records (must be able to show that the work was performed in the U.S.); employment certification letters.” This is from this link under Required Supporting Documents.

      1. Thanks for your help! We successfully got our daughters birth certificate and passport and now just need to get the Permiso de Salida. I have one more question… Do the passport photos I give for Permiso de Salida need to be the same photo that is in my daughters passport, or can they be a different photo? Thanks!!

        1. We’re not totally sure but think they don’t have to be the same. People have to get the permiso de salida for their kids after they get any type of residency so the issuance of a passport might not coincide with getting the permiso. For example, a family we know from Canada with teenagers just got inversionista residency and had to get the permisos to go back to Canada. They had to have new photos taken since they didn’t have the old ones from their passport from years ago. So it must be fine. Let us know how it goes if you have a chance!

  5. Hi there I am trying to fill out the birth abroad application and was wondering about the section where it asks about the parents time spent in the US, how specific were you? Do you have to list every time you were out of the country eve for vacation for a week? And how far back do you have to go? I have been traveling since I was a little girl not sure how I would know all those dates!

    Thank you!!

    1. Hi Danielle, We did the best we could to remember everywhere we’ve lived since birth. Jenn moved a lot so that was tough but we included as much info as we could. When we weren’t sure of an exact date, I think we just gave the month and year. I don’t think we included travel if it was only a short time but did if we were out of the country for a while. The instructions weren’t clear on that. Using your passport might help if you still have your old ones. Hope that helps! It is a lot of paperwork, but if it makes you feel better, everything for ours was approved in a few weeks without any problems.

  6. OK here goes!!!

    1) The link to the website to obtain a CR birth certificate event when translated only says to register deaths and marriages… so I am confused!

    2) Do we need the birth certificate BEFORE the passport application?

    3) We are Canadian but I am assuming this process is much the same. However, the Canadian Consulate website doesn’t seem as awesome as the US…

    What was the total time from the birth until you had a passport in hand?? I am also under the assumption that you only obtained a US passport? instead of a CR passport?

    We will be renting a place down there in Heredia and birthing with a midwife so just trying to get a sense of how long we will need to rent the house for as it’s super expensive.

    I am due May 3rd so we are trying to figure out if we should rent it for April and May and hope to be done the process by beg of June…. is this reasonable?

    1. Hi KB,

      1) To get the birth certificate, you select Consulta por nombre y apellidos under Personas Nacionales (because your baby will be a national). Then put in your baby’s name. Your baby’s name will pop up at the next screen. Select it and then click Solicitar de Certificación de Nacimiento. Click Continuar, then you’ll be at the screen where you can choose how many you want and where you want to pick up.

      NOTE (This will be important for you since time is an issue): Your baby won’t be in the system until after the hospital files the initial birth document. Right after your baby is born, the hospital will come by with a paper they’ll fill out with you and your husband’s name, address, passport info, etc. The document is called a Certificado de Declaracion de Nacimiento. For us, that document was filed very quickly because the guy at the hospital we delivered at also worked at the Civil Registry. We have heard that it can take a little while though (around a week), so it would be good to ask the hospital in advance. Or, ask the midwife what the process will be if you’re doing a home birth.

      Once your baby is in the system, his or her name will show up on the website and you’ll be able to get the birth certificate same day if you want.

      2 & 3) We have no idea about the process for Canada but assume it is similar and you would need the birth certificate to prove that they baby was born in Costa Rica. We know of several Canadian families who have had kids here and haven’t heard any complaints about the process if that helps at all. If the Canadian Consulate website doesn’t have good info, try giving them a call. There is also a really helpful group on Facebook where you could post this question. It’s the Families with Children in the Central Valley. I’m sure there are some people on there from Canada. We have found good info just by using the search function too to see old threads.

      It took the US Embassy two weeks from when we applied so a month should be doable assuming the initial Civil Registry document is filed quickly and Canada works in a similar way.

      We did only get a US passport for our son. From what I remember, the CR one seemed to be more work to get or would take longer.

      1. Just to note, I was at the civil registry today in San Isidro and they said to expect it to take up to a month to appear in the system.

  7. Hello!

    I am having my baby in cr. Father is Tico, I am a US citizen. I plan to leave afterwards with the baby to visit family for 2 weeks and then return back to cr.

    1. You mentioned above that we needed to include marriage documents. We are not married, will this be a problem?

    2. You said you only got a US passport for your son. Could I do that as well and be able to travel to the USA and come back to Costa Rica with the baby without a problem? Even though entry and exit would be on the US passport?

    Thank you in advance! Your info has made the whole process seem less overwhelming!

    1. Hi Sarah, Being unmarried isn’t a problem but the Embassy website talks about different requirements for that situation so be sure to read it carefully. They are mainly concerned with the US citizen parent so that they can confirm that the baby is a US citizen so they’ll be most interested in you if your partner is Tico.

      Your baby will be able to leave and return with a US passport. Immigration in CR will write in the baby’s stamp that he or she is a dual national (so they won’t put 90 days like they do for us). You can get a CR passport too if you want but it’s easier to get into the States with a US one.

      Congrats on your pregnancy and future little Tico 🙂

  8. One more question!

    I am aware that I can apply for residency afterwards. Will I still need to be leaving the country every 3 months for quitems a while? That really feels like a process especially being a new mom. (I have been here for a year and a half and have been leaving and coming back in).

    Would it change if I were to get married? Or is there no way of avoiding having to leave every 3 months?

    Thanks again!!

    1. You have to keep leaving every 90 days until your residency application is approved if you want to drive in CR. Your US drivers license renews with your passport. If you don’t want to drive, you don’t have to leave. That’s for vinculó permanent residency through the baby. We recently applied this way ourselves and wrote a post about it here.

      We have heard about a way to apply for citizenship through your Tico spouse but really aren’t sure how that works. Might be worth looking into though. Good luck!

  9. hi,

    I’am concerned, my wife and two children went to Costa Rica in Oct of 2016 to have our third daughter. She was born mid December. I am now in the process of getting them back to the states (I was not there because of my work). The passport will arrive in 10 days for the new one. My concern is that my wife and three children will be over due on their visa’s. I see that we can apply for residency with “Residencia Permanente Por Vinculo”. but can they leave with out getting dinged on the visa now?

    1. Hi Evan, Your new baby is Tico so he/she will not have any problems. As for the rest of your family, immigration probably wouldn’t say anything when they leave but could when they come back to Costa Rica. This has come up in some of the expats groups on Facebook before and people have suggested that a lot of times, they don’t notice. Not sure how it would impact their applications for residency in the future, since you do need to provide a copy of your passport stamps. Best to consult with a lawyer about that.

  10. Hi! Thanks so much for putting this information out! I had my first son in Costa Rica in a hospital, and I want to have my next baby due in July as well. I would like to have a home birth, but I am unsure how that will affect my ability to get the required documents. When I had my son, I was without the father, and the US Embassy, even with all of the official documents, was very suspicious. I eventually ended up showing them actual birth photos to finally prove that my baby was mine. Of course, this makes me feel very careful about making sure that my documents are in order for both the CR and US sides of things. Do you have any knowledge of the climate and beaurocratic process for home-birthing in CR?

    1. Hi Christine, We are not sure because we had a hospital birth, but this has definitely come up online and people have figured it out. Do some searching on the Facebook groups for expats – the one called Families with Children in the Central Valley is probably the best resource (and you don’t have to live in the Central Valley to join). Best of luck with your pregnancy and delivery!

  11. Awesome, and congratulations on the baby! There is one technicality that people might want to be aware of regarding a birth in Costa Rica. I have run into this issue (it’s not really an “issue”) with a couple of clients visiting Costa Rica…

    Technically… a child born in Costa Rica does not automatically become a Costa Rican citizen unless at least one parent is a Costa Rican citizen. The child is entitled to Costa Rican citizenship but it is not Technically automatic. Here is the text of the Costa Rican Constitution:

    —————–

    ARTICLE 13. The following are Costa Ricans by birth:

    1. A child born within the territory of the Republic to a Costa Rican father or mother;

    2. A child born abroad to a born Costa Rican father or mother, who is registered as such in the Civil Register by the will of the Costa Rican parent during its minority, or by his own will up to the age of twenty-five;

    3. A child born in Costa Rica to foreign parents, who is registered as a Costa Rican by the will of either parent during minority or by his own will up to the age of twenty-five

    —————–

    Note that #3 does not have the same wording as #1. The child must be “registered” prior to gaining citizenship. However, practically speaking, everyone involved is going to assume that you want your child to have Costa Rican citizenship and the process will have all the appearance of being “automatic.”

    Why might you NOT want your child to have Costa Rican citizenship? It just keeps your options open and also makes it easier to travel in and out of Costa Rica with your child. As mentioned in the article, a permiso de salida is required if the child is a Costa Rican citizen or resident.

    Keep in mind that at any time prior to the child turning 25 years old, the parents or the child can register the child for (and automatically be granted) citizenship.

    1. That’s interesting, John; thanks for sharing! Do you have any idea what it means (or what the courts/lawyers/relevant authorities think it means) that a child be “registered as a Costa Rican?” Is it more than registering the birth or obtaining a Cost Rican passport?

      1. Most likely, if your child is born in Costa Rica, it will “automatically” be registered as a citizen of Costa Rica. It’s pretty much up to you to insist that your child Not be registered as a citizen.

      2. I really should have been more thorough in my initial reply. The best advice that I can give you is that if you have serious questions about having a child in Costa Rica, you should contact a Costa Rican lawyer. Also, the authors of this website have first-hand experience with this issue, so you could consult with them about their experience. Costa Rica is very protective of its minor citizens and this is a major issue for expats who wish to have children born in Costa Rica. You need professional legal advice.

      3. We aren’t aware of anything special that needs to be done besides registering the birth, which is done routinely if you do a hospital birth. Here’s how it worked for us if that is helpful:

        After our son was born, we had to fill out a form (Certificado de Declaracion de Nacimiento) with details about the birth (our son’s name, parents’ names, birth details like date, time, etc.). That form was then filed with the Registro Civil (Civil Registry). Once filed, we could get his formal birth certificate. He’s now in the Civil Registry system online as a Costarricense as his nationality and he has a cedula number.

        What happened to us sounds like it meets the “registered as such in the Civil Register” requirement in the law stated above, but I am not a lawyer in Costa Rica (only in the US). Next time we have to meet with a lawyer here, we will probably double check to make sure nothing else needs to happen (even though we would still have plenty of time anyway).

        Our experience with leaving the country with our son has been very easy. Once you get a permanent permiso de salida, it’s on file in the computer system. If you do a land border crossing, they just check it before letting your child out, and if you fly internationally, you have to go to a special office before you check in for your flight. It just takes a few minutes.

        1. Thanks for the post. It has been very informative and helpful!

          My wife and I are from the US and we were quarantined here during the COVID-19 Crisis. My wife just had our baby boy a few days ago and the process seems to be a little shattered because most of the offices are closed.

          We are trying to take the next steps but haven’t had much luck.

          We had our baby in Liberia. We received the Certificado de Declaracion de Nacimiento from the hospital but they have not been able to submit it to the Registro Civil because they are closed due to Covid and have many applications pending…

          Does the US embassy require this? Does our baby need a US passport or Costa Rican Passport? Both?

          Thanks in advance!

          1. Hi Josh, Congratulations! How crazy it must be for you to be going through the birth of a child here right now. Yes, the US Embassy requires the birth certificate issued by the Registro Civil to process the US passport. The US passport is probably the easiest to get. You or your child could get the Costa Rican passport later on if you decide you’d like it, but all he will need for travel is the US one. We hope the delays get better for you. Hopefully that will be the case since the country is supposed to start opening up again as of May 1. Here’s the link to our Coronavirus post in case you haven’t seen it. We have been updating it regularly with what’s happening in CR. Good luck!

          2. Hey Jen and Matt, thanks so much for this post, it has been super helpfull! We had our baby April 1st and are going through this now as well.

            Hey Josh, we heard mixed messages about the length of time to receive the birth certificate. The man at the vital records office told us it could take a year to get the birth certificate due to corona and offices being closed but we received it 2 weeks ago (about a month). He also talked about the Registro Civil being closed but the pediatrician and our doctor disagreed and thought it would take about 3 weeks (it took 4). We had been talking back and forth with the US embassy (about getting her US passport) before receiving the birth certificate and they said if we did not have the birth certificate by May 17th, to just make the appointment anyway and explain to the consular officer that we still didn’t have the birth certificate (again, this was before we actually did receive the birth certificate.) Of course, now that we have the birth certificate, we tried making an appointment at the US Embassy, and they are currently not accepting appointments for birth abroads unless it is an emergency. We emailed the embassy people because we thought maybe the website just wasnt working for appointments and they confirmed they are not taking appointments right now and do not know when they will start again (the email we’ve been corresponding with is: ACSsanjose@state.gov)….we’d love to keep in touch with you guys as we work through this all together if you are interested. feel free to email us at zachrenner1@gmail.com.

      4. Thanks, yall! I think that consulting an attorney may well be good advice, John and Matt & Jenn. It’s amazing to me (and I’m an attorney, myself!) how many problems can be mitigated or even eliminated entirely simply by consulting an attorney ahead of time and following his/her advice.

        I appreciate yall’s help!

  12. Matt & Jenn,
    I am also
    Considering having my child in Costa Rica… I was wondering if you are aware if any time specifications for how much time a foreigner parent(s) has to have had or currently be spending in Costa Rica… is there a specification on that?

      1. Thank you guys so much for your time to respond! I wrote you on another link also… I think it was your “first year in CR”. I do have another question…. now that you guys have been approved for residency through your sons birth… are you having to denounce your US citizenship? Or do you get to obtain dual citizenship?

        1. Hi Natalie, We have permanent residency in Costa Rica. You can’t apply for citizenship for several years (I believe it is 10?). If and when we do that, we would not have to denounce our US citizenship and would be dual citizens.

          1. Law says min. 5 years residence for latinos (they define more precisely) and 7 years for other citizens… and in practice it could be easily much more as I heard.

          2. Yes, 7 years under any type of residency for you tow, plus I’m guessing you have to take the naturalization tests (going through that now myself). Could be wrong on the tests since they are waived if you’re obtaining citizenship via marriage (or over 70 years old).

          3. Per having to denounce your U.S. citizenship, you do actually have to denounce it indirectly when you accept CR citizenship, but the U.S. does not recognize that. Denouncing U.S. citizenship is a U.S. process and currently costs you about $2500 and even then you are not off the hook for 10 years as far as the IRS is concerned.

  13. Hi Jenn and Matt,

    Regarding the social security card for the baby, how long does it take to be deliver? We apply for the US birth abroad, us passport together with the social security card last December 22,2017 for our baby. We already got her passport and birth certificate abroad but for now we are still waiting for her social security card.

    1. Hi Liza, You should have gotten it by now. From what we remember, the social security card does take longer than the passport and CBA. We didn’t want to make two trips to San José so on our application we gave them an address in the States to send it, but it never came. So we ended up having to call the Embassy in CR. They had it remade and shipped to the Embassy in San Jose, where we picked it up several months later. Sounds like something similar may have happened to you.

  14. Thank you for this info! Idk what i’d do without it? I have a question…I am probably having an unassisted homebirth in Costa Rica next month. I would have a midwife but not having luck finding one. My question is if I do not have a doctor at my birth, what kind of problems that might cause with the paperwork? I have proof of pregnancy but maybe not proof.of birth…any info you have would be appreciated

    1. Hi Jamie, There are lots of midwives in Costa Rica so you should definitely find one! We have heard horror stories about unassisted homebirths here. If you live near San Isidro de El General, Dominical, Uvita, or Quepos, the doctor that I used does homebirths and he is fantastic and prefers very natural deliveries. Let me know if you would like his contact information. He has offices in San Isidro and Quepos. Mamasol Costa Rica (or their website) is also a great resource for finding a midwife. You could also join the Facebook group Families with Children in the Central Valley. This group has a lot of members from the Central Valley but also from other places in the country, and people discuss things like finding a midwife and getting your baby’s paperwork if you have a homebirth. Use the search function and a lot of old threads will come up.

      1. Horror stories about the birth or paperwork? Or both? When you get a chance I’d love the contract info for your doctor! Thank you!

        1. I meant contact not contract?I am in San Isidro del General now and have tried and tried to search for your doctor but can’t seem to find any info

  15. Hi,
    I would like to ask about the permiso de salida. Which form do we need to get, the one permanent or temporary exit. I’m confused with their forms.

      1. Hi thanks for the reply. There are also two choices in permanent which one is the correct seems like both are for minors. My baby is three months now. I’m confused in their choices. 🙂

  16. Hey! This is so helpful! My husband, daughter, and I are coming to Costa Rica for 3 months beginning in September. We want to have our baby there and then leave just before the holidays ( we travel full-time). This article really helped me understand that it’s possible to get the birth certificate and passport rather quickly!

    Were you living in San Jose or San Isidro at the time when your baby was born? We are thinking of being in San Jose for the birth and then a few weeks later moving somewhere a bit further so we can experience other parts of Costa Rica. Do you think this would be wise given our time constraint and needing to get to the embassy for the passport application and then picking up the passport? Are there places we could live close to San Jose that are better for hiking and beaches? Any advice would be great!

    1. Hi Carly, San Jose is quite far from hiking and beaches. You could live somewhere in between like Grecia or Atenas but it’s not the same feel as being near the beach. We were living near San Isidro/Dominical when our son was born and would just make the trip up to San Jose when we needed to. As long as you have all of the documents you need, you should be able to do the application in one visit, then would just have to return once more to pick up the passport. The US Embassy is pretty efficient- assuming you’re talking about getting a US passport. I think both parents have to be there for the application but then only one has to go back after. So it’s not that bad. Since we’re about 4 hours from San Jose, we would just do an overnight so that the trip wasn’t as rushed.

  17. Hi guys!
    I just got two emails saying that my son and I got approved for residency. It states that we need to come within 90 days or Migracion will start the cancellation process (???).
    We are currently not in Costa Rica. Does my son need to be present to receive his cedula or I can just bring his documents with me? Like, do they take a picture of the minor?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Roger, First, that is crazy that you received notice by email. Wow! That’s great. We didn’t get anything by email even though they said we would and didn’t find out until we checked in person. We’re not sure from what you said, but it sounds like you are at the first stage of approval, where they have the signed resolutions ready (resoluciones) and you have to go pick them up at Migration. This is only step 1 to approval- you will have to get the document and then sign up for the Caja/CCSS and pay the required fees (instructions are in the resolution). Once you are signed up for CCSS, you can make the appointment to get your cedulas. A laywer should be able to pick up your signed resolutions now with a power of attorney. You will probably have to go in person to sign up for the Caja (your son wouldn’t need to be there). Then once you have everything done, you can get your cedulas. We think everyone has to be there in person for this since they take your photo, but aren’t sure. A lawyer would know. Good luck!

  18. Hi Jenn & Matt! I love that you took the time to document this, as it is already a great resource to so many! I was wondering if you both have the same last name, and if this effected the naming of your newborn born in Costa Rica? I recently married a Costa Rican and have been holding off on changing my last name, for fear that our future kids will have the mother and father’s last name twice, as Costa Rican last names are (ex: would be Susie Q. Jones Smith but if wife changes her last name to the husband’s the kids would be Susie Q. Jones Jones- not ideal) Did that matter or were you able to name your newborn as you wanted to like in the states?

    1. Hi Michele, Yes, if you have the same last name, I think your child will have the name doubled (ex. Jones Jones). This is only for their Costa Rican IDs. You will be able to have it differently for the US passport. In our case, my name is hypenated (Turnbull-Houde) so they let our son’s be FIRST NAME MIDDLE NAME HOUDE TURNBULL, acknowledging that Turnbull was my maiden name.

  19. Thank you for sharing your experiences! My husband and I spent most of last year in CR as volunteers originally and completely fell in love. We now plan to return in a month to purchase property as well as to have our baby (I am due Nov 23). We had hoped to return to the states for Christmas and want to schedule our flights in advance. After reading this I am starting to think this my be impossible. Are you aware of any ways to speed along the process? Such as maybe scheduling an appointment with the U.S. embassy in advance when close to due date?

    In regards to vaccinations, although not fully opposed to them I like the idea of waiting until the infant is 6 months old, when mother’s passed on immunity is wearing off and their immune systems are more developed. I did this with my first two children without issue. Any thoughts on how doctors there might respond to this?

    1. Hi Jen, It would be tough to get everything done in less than a month, especially if the baby is born late. Others lately have said that the birth certificate can take some time to get and I don’t think you can speed up the Embassy appointment. You could make an appointment at any time in advance, but you would need to be sure you’ll have the birth certificate in time.

      For the vaccinations question, we really don’t know much about delayed schedules or not getting them in Costa Rica so we’re going to stay out of it. If anyone else has experience with, please feel free to chime in. Thanks!

  20. Do you know if submitting the printed official digital copies of birth certificates (from the Tribunal Supreme de Elecciones’ website) with timbres is acceptable when applying for residency? or do you have to request with Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones and pickup the hardcopies with timbres?

    1. Hi Jenna, We’re not sure because they didn’t have the digital system yet when we applied. Seems like you should be able to use them since they’re official but we’re not 100% sure.

      Anyone else have experience with this?

  21. I know of a US trained midwife who does home births in Costa Rica and Panama. If anyone wants info contact me at “labup@aol.com”

    1. Hi Shak, Do you mean register the birth with the US Embassy? We’re really not sure but have never heard of a specific deadline. If you’re concerned, you could contact the Embassy if the information is not on their website.

  22. Nope, register the birth in Costa Rica itself. If the father is abroad, I will have only my name on the birth certificate? Is there a deadline; what if the father cannot come to Costa Rica sooner.
    Thanks 🙂 Beautiful family there..

  23. Hi quick question,

    I’m wondering if you have a child in Costa Rica while your on a tourist visa and you have the baby very close to your 90 day limit, do you still have to get out of the country on that 90th day? (Considering that you just had a baby) or do they give you a grace period? Would you have to apply for extended tourist visa?

  24. Thank you for all the great information!
    Our son was born the 24th of February.
    We need to get an Apostille stamp for our birth certificate.
    Do you have any experience or tips about this?
    I understand that we have to go to foreign ministry in San José?

    1. Hi Herman, We don’t have any experience getting an apostille stamp in Costa Rica. The only time we have needed them is for authenticating documents from the US for our applications for residency.

  25. Wow. I am so grateful to have stumbled upon these amazing articles! I am a US citizen living in Costa Rica, and I am about to have a baby here in CR. I have been scouring Google for info, and your posts really helped me out in a BIG way. Just want to thank you!

  26. Hello, first I think your page is awesome and super helpful. I have recently had a baby in CR and have all documents except the “A written statement from the physician who attended the birth, stating the name of the mother and pertinent facts of the birth. In the case of a child born in one of Costa Rica’s public hospitals. How did you go about getting this document as when we called the hospital (San Vincente De Paul, Heredia) they were unsure how to get this document. Any suggestions are appreciated

  27. Just want to say thanks for writing this blogpost. It was a huge help and everything went smoothly thanks to all you wrote!

  28. Hi Jen & Matt, great post! Anyway, I am a U.S citizen having a baby with a tico in September (we are not married or planning to get married) & I am concerned about the permiso de salida. If I select the permanent permiso de salida that only allows me to take the child out of the country would I be allowed to take the child in and out of Costa Rica whenever I want without getting renewed permission? A Costa Rican told me that each time I would want to take the child out of CR the father would have to sign a form to allow the child to leave. Is this only true if you choose the temporary permiso de salida instead of the permanent which would only require the mother & fathers permission once while filling out the documents at the embassy?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Aly, Yes, I think with the permanent permiso de salida, it stays in place indefinitely so you wouldn’t need to do anything to take the baby out of the country. This is what we have with our boys and we’ve never had any problems.

  29. I’m looking at doing this myself. I noticed some of the links are expired. Any chance of an update? Thanks!!

    Has anyone tried flying your own midwife down?

    1. Hi Jake, We are planning to write a new article about our experience having our second child at CIMA hospital last year and will update the links in this post at the same time as we do that. We’ll try to remember to send another reply to your comment to let you know when it’s ready. Most likely, this will be in a couple of weeks.

      1. Hi again Jake, We just fully updated this post so all links should be good now. We revised it too according to our most recent experiences getting all these docs last year when our second baby was born. Good luck getting everything done!

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