As an expat considering Costa Rica for more than just a brief vacation, one of the most important considerations that you will undertake, is choosing the correct Attorney to represent your interests in purchasing real estate, entering into a lease agreement for commercial, or residential property, incorporating a company, obtaining Residency, and the like.

As Costa Rica, is a Civil Law (Napoleonic Law), rather than an English Common Law jurisdiction (Canada and the U.S.), as an expat seeking the services of an Attorney, there are two inquiries that you should undertake, one inquiry as to the Attorney’s licensing status with the Costa Rica College of Lawyers and the second inquiry as to the Attorney’s Notary Public licensing status with the Costa Rica National Direction of Notaries.

In Costa Rica, all Notaries are Attorneys, but not all Attorneys are Notaries.

The Notary Public requires additional legal training and qualification over that of an Attorney in a Civil Law jurisdiction, and they will be the party who most expats will require the services of, rather than those of an Attorney only. Only a Notary Public is qualified to transfer the title to a property, or vehicle, or incorporate a company in the National Registry. There are many more formal functions that only a Notary Public can perform in Costa Rica.

In order to determine if the Attorney you are inquiring about is properly licensed and authorized to discharge their legal functions by the two governing legal bodies, there are two web sites that ought be consulted: 1. The Costa Rica College of Lawyers (Colegio de Abogados) with web site:  and 2. The National Direction of Notaries (Direccion Nacional de Notariado) at web site:

In the case of the College of Lawyers, the Home page will display a menu on the left with the selection: Consultar Agremiados. By clicking on this selection, a menu will be displayed where you can either enter the Attorneys registration number, or name and receive his, or her registration particulars. On clicking on the registration particulars, a further screen will appear indicating whether the particular Attorney is active, or suspended from practice.

If no particulars for an Attorney appear, the party is not licensed to practice law in Costa Rica. In the case of the National Direction of Notaries, the Home page will display a menu where the particular Notary’s name, or incorporation number can be inserted to determine their status, being either active, inactive, or suspended. If no information is displayed, the party is not licensed to act as a Notary Public in Costa Rica.

This is not a time-consuming process and it may well be the best inquiry that you make before hiring your Costa Rica Attorney.

To contact Attorney Rick Philps about hiring him as your Costa Rican Attorney, please use the following information: Lic. Rick Philps – Attorney at Law, Petersen & Philps, San Jose, Costa Rica Tel: 506-2288-4381, Ext. 102; Email: Website: