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. Expats who acquire citizenship are entitled to receive a Costa Rican passport, which is valid for travel worldwide.
Expats who retain their U.S. citizenship are unlikely to see much benefit in the second passport. However, Costa Rica as a small nation, with no military is viewed as politically benign in comparison to the United States. As a result there are some countries where it is easier to use a Costa Rican passport.
A good example is Brasil, which requires United States citizens to apply for and receive a visa before travel. The application process requires a visit to a Brazilian embassy, documentation and a $180 fee. Costa Rican citizens do not need a visa to enter Brasil and automatically receive authorization for a 90 day stay.
Under the administration of Oscar Arias, Costa Rica re-established diplomatic ties with Cuba, and citizens of Costa Rica are allowed to travel there.
Citizens of the United States who visit Panama are required to purchase a $10 tourist card. However, Costa Rica citizens are exempt from this requirement.
Having a passport from Costa Rica, however in most cases will not conceal the original nationality of a naturalized citizen. This is because the location of birth is a part of the document, and it’s a well known fact that persons born in the United States, with few exceptions are U.S. citizens.
Naturalized citizens can acquire their passport by making an appointment with immigration in La Uruca. Citizens can use their cedula number to register online for a time slot. There is a $56 fee, and a photocopy of a citizen cedula is required. Naturalized citizens must also bring a certification of naturalization, which is available for free at the Civil Registry.
Naturalized citizens may have to wait up to one year before they can receive a passport.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.