Legalization and Apostille of Documents in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is the 100th country to have adhered to the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents (also known as the the Apostille Convention), which entered into force on 14 December, 2011.

The competent authority is:

Departamento de Autenticaciones
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto de Costa Rica
Avenida 7-9, Calle 11-13
San José, Costa Rica
Telephone: (506) 2223-7555

An Updated list of Contracting States that are party to the Apostille Convention is available at the HCCH (Hague Convention on International Private Law) website.

Scope of Application and Benefits

Apostille facilitates considerably the cost and time required when there is need to submit foreign documents for legal and commercial purposes in the country.

Some  examples of documents that frequently require to be submitted to foreign authorities  include: trademark assignments, patent assignments, foreign judgments for enforcement purposes, powers of attorney (under special circumstance these need to be executed before the corresponding consulate), certificates, amongst others. Parties residing in countries adhered to the Apostille Convention no longer need to submit  to the Costa Rican consulates with jurisdiction over their territory the documents for consular legalization.

Under article 1 of the Convention, the following public documents are exempted from consular legalization:

  1. documents emanating from an authority or an official connected with the courts or tribunals of the State, including those emanating from a public prosecutor, a clerk of a court or a process-server (“huissier de justice“);
  2. administrative documents;
  3. notarial acts;
  4. official certificates which are placed on documents signed by persons in their private capacity, such as official certificates recording the registration of a document or the fact that it was in existence on a certain date and official and notarial authentications of signatures.

However, the Convention does not apply to:

  1. to documents executed by diplomatic or consular agents;
  2. to administrative documents dealing directly with commercial or customs operations.

Documents executed in countries that are not party to the Convention still need to undergo the normal legalization procedure. For more information visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs web site.

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