QCOSTARICA — Good news for foreigners wanting naturalization in Costa Rica, as the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones (TSE) – the election tribunal that oversees the civil registry and naturalization – has eliminated the requirement of a previous appointment.
Now, users can visit the main TSE offices in San Jose or at any of the 32 regional offices, from Monday to Friday, from 7 am to 3 pm, to start the process of becoming a Costa Rican citizen.
The prior appointment was instituted last year as the TSE was oversaturated with demand for naturalization.
For clarity, ‘naturalization’ is different than ‘residency’. Citizenship by naturalization gives the right to obtain a Costa Rican passport; residency does not.
How does one become a naturalized citizen of Costa Rica? Basically, after 7 years of living legally with a temporary or permanent residency visa, a foreigner may apply for citizenship by naturalization. Time abroad will be deducted from the total time living in-country, meaning if you have spent 2 weeks outside the country since obtaining residency, you can apply at 7 years and 2 weeks after you obtained residency.
Foreigners married to a Costa Rican for at least two years and who remained in the country at least two years after the marriage qualify for naturalization (or citizenship). Time outside of Costa Rica after the marriage has to be made up. That is any time spent abroad has to be made up in the country before applying. Time spent in the country before the marriage is not counted.z