Foreigners that become legal residents in Costa Rica are required to keep current their cedula or identification document. The cedula renewal, which can cost up to $123, depending on immigration status can be done directly with immigration or with certain branches of the Banco de Costa Rica (BCR). In a recent article in crhoy.com, immigration explained the rules for determining the length of validity for cedulas, based on different categories of residents.
- 1 Year: Student and Work Permits, Spouses of Citizens with Temporary Resident Status
- 2 Years: Temporary Residents (Pensioners and Rentistas), Permanent Residents with 1 to 4 years
- 3 Years: Permanent Residents with 4 to 10 years
- 5 Years: Permanent Residents with more than 10 years
A fine of $3 per month with an expired cedula now applies to renewals. Requirements to renew residency are different, depending on the category and are defined in Spanish on the immigration webpage (see).
Recent changes in immigration policy resulted in more oversight for foreign resident spouses of Costa Rican citizens and allowed those with court recognized civil unions (unión de hecho) to apply for residency.
However, those who are formally married (unión matrimonial) and have resided in the country for two years can apply for naturalization to become citizens of Costa Rica. Unlike other categories of naturalization, spouses are not required to take language or history tests and do not have to sign a letter, expressing intent to renounce their foreign citizenship. They qualify simply by living in the national territory for two years, subsequent to marriage. Requirements are defined on the website of the civil registry, which is separate from immigration and handles the naturalization process.