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Citizenship by Descent in Costa Rica

Citizenship by Descent in Costa Rica

Out of all the ways available for obtaining citizenship in Costa Rica, descent is by far the simplest when it comes to the procedure to go through. On the other hand, this method of acquiring the nationality of this country is available for a limited number of people.

Below, our immigration lawyers explain the requirements to meet and how to apply for citizenship through heritage in Costa Rica.

The particularities of citizenship through ancestry in Costa Rica

People with Costa Rican origin can become citizens of Costa Rica by virtue of their parent or grandparent’s citizenship through the process of obtaining citizenship by descent.

Documentation of the ancestor’s citizenship and proof that the applicant has not renounced their Costa Rican nationality are the requirements for eligibility for citizenship by origin in Costa Rica.

Steps to obtain citizenship by descent in Costa Rica

Compared to naturalization, obtaining citizenship by ancestry in Costa Rica is simpler, as the applicant does not need to apply for residency. This is why the steps to complete can be summarized as follows:

  • gather the documents attesting to having ties to a Costa Rican citizen;
  • filing them with the Costa Rican authorities;
  • waiting for the papers to be processed and be declared a Costa Rican national.

It is worth noting that you can file for citizenship by descent in Costa Rica from within the country or the closest embassy or consulate.

An important aspect to consider when it comes to becoming a Costa Rican national this way is that descent requires one to be recorded in the Civil Registry. The person can register with his/her parent(s) or on his/her own before turning 18 or 25 years old.

Also, Costa Rican citizenship by origin can be obtained through parents or grandparents.

If you plan to immigrate to Costa Rica after getting nationality by heritage, you can rely on our local specialists for support.

Documents required when applying for citizenship through heritage in Costa Rica

To prevent any delays or issues in the process of obtaining citizenship by descent, it is important to make sure that all documentation is correct and up to date. The Costa Rican authorities will assess the application after it is submitted to ascertain the applicant’s eligibility. The person will be awarded Costa Rican citizenship only if he or she is accepted.


The documents to be filed include:

  • a valid passport;
  • proof of ancestry (marriage or birth certificate of at least one Costa Rican citizen who has passed on lineage);
  • the Civil Registry excerpt;
  • proof of payment of the application fee;
  • a clear criminal record.

Feel free to ask our specialists for assistance in creating your citizenship application file.

What happens if you cannot find proof to file for Costa Rican citizenship by descent

There are also cases where citizenship through lineage in Costa Rica cannot be secured. This is often the case of people failing to register their children with the Civil Registry. In this case, the only procedure remaining is naturalization. For this purpose, one must first obtain Costa Rican residency.

Residency can be obtained through several means, among which employment, investment or company formation in Costa Rica.

From this point of view, the main aspect to consider is the period of time required to live in Costa Rica to become eligible for citizenship. Here are the main options:

  • naturalization by marriage implies living in Costa Rica for 2 years;
  • naturalization by residency requires living in Costa Rica for 7 years;
  • for people from Latin American countries, naturalization implies living here for 5 years.

For support in applying for Costa Rican citizenship by descent, please contact our lawyers.