Naturalization is an option expats have after being a resident for seven years or marrying a citizen and living in Costa Rica for two years. Perhaps the biggest benefit is that citizens are not foreigners, who are subordinate to the authority of the immigration department, its police force, and its rules.
For example, foreign residents must deal with the following.
- Renew their resident cedula, according to a schedule and fee structure that is frequently reinvented by the immigration department.
- Maintain a current foreign passport. For example, residency may be canceled if a U.S. citizens fails to renew their passport or their password is withdrawn by the United States government.
- Stay current on payments to the national health care system (caja) and declare the amount of their foreign pension so they can be charged rates accordingly.
- Resolve any problems, mistakes or errors that may develop with their immigration file. This often requires paying legal fees to an attorney.
- Formally declare to governments in both countries that they reside in Costa Rica. Alternatively, dual citizens can change their de-facto residence when they travel between either country or just update their Facebook status.
The upshot of the last requirement is that “foreign residents” are a special class of people who are both identified and subject to tracking by both the country where they reside and the country of their origin. New laws and policies can be adopted in either country, which affect their lives or legal obligations.
Dual citizens are rarely singled out for any special treatment in the country where they reside, and as long as they remain there may choose to ignore the country of their birth. Should they take a renewed interest in that first country, then in most cases it’s just a matter of updating a passport and going on a journey.Note: This article is a part of a series on naturalization and deals with just one benefit. We will cover others, along with the current requirements in another article.