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Authentication of Foreign Documents in Costa Rica

by rpetersen

Authentication of Foreign Documents for Use in Costa Rica

If you need to have a foreign document recognized for use in Costa Rica you must have the document authenticated in your home country before it is recognized in Costa Rica.   Any type of court document or vital records will need authentication.  These include documents such as birth, marriage or death certificates that you intend to use in Costa Rica for any type of legal or administrative process.

How do you authenticate your documents for use in Costa Rica ?

 The first step is to determine if your country is a member of The Hague Convention on the Authentication of Foreign Documents.  If your country is a member then the application process is much simpler.

What is the Hague Convention on Authentication of Foreign Documents ?

The Hague Convention was formed with the intent of unifying the rules of private international law.   It does so by implementing multilateral agreements and standardizing some of the principles of international law.   There are currently 72 countries that are members of the Hague Conference.

Costa Rica is a signatory to the  “Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalization of Foreign Public Documents” also  known as the “Apostille Treaty”.   Costa Rica has been a member of the Apostille Treaty since 2011 and as such it will accept foreign documents that have been Apostilled by any of the other 72 member countries.   The United States and most European countries are members. Canada is not a member. (See the list of member countries below).  In the image below you can follow the Apostille process for authenticating foreign documents for use in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Apostille

With the Apostille Process once your home country has issued the Apostille on the document you are done with the authentication process and that document will be recognized in Costa Rica.

Who grants the Apostille in the United States ?

In the United States the authority to Apostille documents is with the Secretary of State of the particular state that issued the document.   To find the address of the Secretaries of State of all 50 states in the United States you visit the site of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) which has the contact information for all of them.

What if my country is NOT a member of the Apostille Treaty ?

If your country is NOT a member of the Apostille treaty then your documents must follow the Consular authentication process which is the certification of the genuineness of the signature and seal of a government official.  This means that your documents must first be authenticated by your home country.  Canada for example is not a signatory to the treaty.   As such all Canadian documents must first go to the Global Affairs Canada Department for authentication.

Global Affairs Canada
Authentication Services Section 
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

K1A 0G2

Once you have the Canadian authentication then you must send your documents to the Costa Rican Embassy in Ottawa for final legalization. 

If you want to read the full text of the Treaty you can do so below where the full text is available.

The following is a link to the list of the Members of the Hague Convention that have signed the legalization of foreign documents treaty.


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