Costa Rica’s Dual Citizenship: A Comprehensive Guide to Unlocking Twice the Passport Power
Anyone who possesses 2 citizenship is considered a dual national, and they owe allegiance to more than one country at a time. Being a dual national can be at birth (by descent) or through naturalization (obtaining new citizenship). With the power of two passports, you can unlock a world of opportunities, from easier international travel to expanded social services and even the right to vote in two different countries. A person can even have 3 or more citizenships (multiple citizenships), but this depends on the nationality law of each country and how the citizenship was obtained.
Can I keep U.S. citizenship after becoming a Costa Rican Citizen?
Yes. While, as a matter of law, naturalization in a foreign state can cause you to forfeit U.S. citizenship, there must be a willful intent to renounce U.S. citizenship. State Department regulations presume that no one willfully intends to give up U.S. citizenship simply by becoming a citizen elsewhere.
Keep in mind that the U.S. authorities do not endorse or encourage dual citizenship. Dual nationals owe allegiance to both the U.S. and the other nation, and they’re required to obey the laws of both countries. A dual U.S.-Costa Rican will be treated solely as a U.S. citizen in the U.S. and solely as a Costa Rican citizen in Costa Rica.
What about other nationalities?
You will need to check with your country of origin to determine their nationality law and what they say about obtaining citizenship in a foreign state via naturalization. For example, Canada allows dual citizenship, as it is impossible to lose Canadian citizenship by naturalizing in a foreign state.
As another example, see the below excerpt for citizens of Germany:
German citizenship is automatically lost when a German citizen voluntarily acquires citizenship of another country, except:
– When the German citizen acquires a nationality from within the European Union, Switzerland, or another country with which Germany has a corresponding treaty.
– When permission to obtain foreign citizenship has been applied for and granted in advance of foreign naturalization. Failure to obtain a so-called permit to retain German citizenship before naturalization results in the individual automatically losing German citizenship upon becoming a naturalized citizen of another country.
Growing Migration and Dual Citizenships
One of every one hundred people on this planet lives outside their birth state. Migration in recent years has reached a scale unheard of in the past. With the shrinking arena via reasonably-priced travel and telecommunications, governments are only beginning to catch up with the unstoppable trend of dual or even multiple citizenships.
In 1995, Costa Rica changed their constitution in such a manner that can be summarized as “Once a Tico, always a Tico” — once nationalized, there is no such thing as a renunciation or involuntary loss of Costa Rican citizenship, no matter what grounds no matter voluntary or involuntary. The only exception to this is if it was obtained fraudulently.
That being said, even though the Costa Rican constitution does not allow you to renounce your Costa Rican citizenship, you may still do so due to Costa Rica’s adherence to international human rights treaties.
In addition, if you obtain Costa Rican citizenship by residence, your oath of naturalization will include a renunciation of all other allegiances. This is not enforced nor recognized by most other nations, including the U.S. For example, you are renouncing Canadian citizenship to a foreign government (such as by taking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States) is not sufficient in itself to be considered a voluntary renunciation of Canadian citizenship.
So, in the end, Costa Rica supports dual citizenship!
-Written by Glenn Tellier (Founder of CRIE and Grupo Gap).
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Hello and thank you for an informative blog. Our son moved to Costa Rica almost three years ago, has half-interest in his deceased father’s house and purchased, and still owns his own home.
He has been dating a girl for over two years and she is expecting a child in late July. Our son wants to get dual citizenship after the baby is born. He informed us that he can legally do this once the baby is born, but we have seen nothing to this effect.
Can you enlighten us? Thank you so very much!!
Thank you for your comment! Your son is eligible to apply for permanent residence in Costa Rica after the baby is born, with the proper paperwork provided. He can apply for Costa Rican citizenship after 7 years of continuous official residence in Costa Rica, which has several requirements — please see our Residency Categories page for further information.
Alternatively, if he marries a Costa Rican citizen, he can apply for citizenship after 2 years of marriage provided he has been living in Costa Rica during that time.
Please use our FREE Assessment or Contact form to get in touch with one of our experts.
Hi I live in the US and I would like to get dual citizenship in Costa Rica I wanted to know what steps do I need to take to do that? Also how long can you stay in Costa Rica if you are not a citizen?
In order to become a citizen of Costa Rica, you first need to apply for Costa Rican residence using one of the categories that are available. As a US citizen, you need to be a documented resident of Costa Rica for 7 years before you can apply for Costa Rican citizenship.
If you are not a citizen or resident, you can stay in Costa Rica for up to 90 days at a time.
I have been living 18 years here and so far no one cpuld help me get my reaidence here. I have to keep renewing. A student id to stay here and have been doing sonfor 18 years. They told mw the only way i can get it is to get maried or have a baby. So. I have lived more than halve my life here and really want to know otrher options to stay here without having to leave every 3 months.
We may be able to help you. please send an email to [email protected]
Hello. Thank you for the information in your blog. I’m a US citizen and I’m a descendant of Costa Rican parents. I’d like to apply for dual citizenship. What is the needed paperwork to apply?
Any insight into this matter would be very helpful!
Thank you for your comment! If you were born outside of Costa Rica to Costa Rican parents, you have until 25 years of age to register your birth abroad and become a citizen automatically. If you’re over 25 and haven’t done so, you will need to establish residency first and then apply for naturalization as a foreigner.
Please use our FREE Assessment or Contact form to get in touch with one of our experts.
If I have dual citizenship but was born in the US and have my Costa Rican citizenship too will my kid get that? I got mine from my mom. My wife is an American citizen only. My dad was and has always been a US citizen only. I have not seen anything that talks about when decent citizenship stops. My mothers parents were both born in Costa Rica and are US citizens as well.
Thank you for your comment! As a child of a Costa Rican citizen born abroad, your kid would be eligible to opt for Costa Rican citizenship under “Opción de Nacionalidad.” This can be done from a Costa Rican consulate closest to you, or at the Registro Civil office in Costa Rica. Please note that this must be done before your kid is 25 years old, or else he or she loses this option. Please refer to Birth registration for children of Costa Rican citizens.
As for when descent citizenship stops, as long as a child of a Costa Rican citizen is registered as a citizen before they turn 25, they can pass on that citizenship by descent to their child (before their child turn 25), and so on and so forth, regardless of place of birth.
I have a couple of questions regarding dual citizenship. If someone has USA-Costa Rican dual citizenship, would it be possible to apply for work in the United States which could be worked remotely from Costa Rica while understanding taxes would need to be paid in both countries? If so, what would be the requirements be to be able to do this?
Thank you for getting in touch with CRIE! While we are not US tax lawyers, it is our understanding that you could be eligible for the FEIE (Foreign Earned Income Exclusion) in the US for the first $105,900 in income. That being said, if the work is being performed in Costa Rica, it needs to be reported and taxed in Costa Rica. The requirement in that case would be to sign up as a taxpayer (self-employed) in Costa Rica and issue invoices for services rendered to the US employer. You will need to collect Costa Rican value added tax (IVA) on your services rendered, as well as self-employed contributions to both CCSS (Caja) and self-employment tax in the USA (FICA) since there is no social security agreement between the two countries.
I was born in California but have Costa Rican parents. I live in Texas. How can I obtain dual citizenship?
Any person born abroad to a Costa Rican parents can opt for Costa Rican citizenship before the age of 25. The first step is to register your birth abroad either with the Costa Rican consulate corresponding to your place of birth, or bring an Apostilled birth certificate to the Civil Registry in Costa Rica. In the case of minors this can be done by the Costa Rican parent.
Please note that this should not affect your US citizenship status. However, when you are in Costa Rica, you will be considered only as a Costa Rican citizen.
The registration of birth must be done before 25 years of age. After that, you will lose the option to enroll as a Costa Rican citizen and must first apply for residence in order to obtain naturalization.
I was born in the U.S. and would like to obtain dual citizenship. My mother was born in Costa Rica but she was adopted to the U.S. I am under 25 years old. Can I still obtain Costa Rican citizenship without having to do naturalization ?
Thank you for your comment! Yes, if you were born outside of Costa Rica to a Costa Rican parent and are under 25, you can register your birth abroad and become a citizen automatically. The first step is to confirm that your mother’s birth record is registered with Registro Civil. Please use our Contact form to get in touch with one of our experts who can help.
My daughter’s father is Costa Rican. Her and I are US citizens, she is a minor. If we go to CR, can he keep her there? What are his rights in CR to her? Can I get her dual-citizenship and still have the same rights to travel as we like?
Thank you for your comment! A person born abroad of a Costa Rican parent must opt for Costa Rican citizenship before the age of 25. Once registered as a citizen of Costa Rica, your daughter will be treated as a Costa Rican citizen when in the country, and as a minor, requires the written consent of both parents in order to leave the country. Please note that it is possible for her father to register her as a Costa Rican citizen without her knowledge or consent, or of yours for that matter. For further details please contact us to get in touch with once of our experts who can help.
Great BLOG. Just came back from CR and want to retire there eventually. I’m US citizen, so is it possible to get dual citizenship if not living in CR and not having any CR parents?
Thank you for the kind words! In your case, the only way to become a Costa Rican citizen is through naturalization via residence, or marriage to a Costa Rican citizen, both of which require a certain length of residence in Costa Rica.
If you apply for dual citizenship (US – Costa Rica), in Costa Rica. Do you lose your military service / disability / retirement money?
Hi Dr. J,
Thank you for your comment! It is our understanding that you would not lose your US military service / disability / retirement benefits upon naturalization in Costa Rica, so long as you retain your US citizenship and do not voluntarily renounce your US citizenship (which is a lengthy and expensive process in itself). Please refer to the Dual Nationality page at the US State Department. “A U.S. citizen may naturalize in a foreign state without any risk to his or her U.S. citizenship.”
My wife & I are considering a move to Costa Rica. Both of us are retired but I have an active business online selling collectible Vinyl Records. How does the import duty thing work to bring 100s in at a time and is there any way that I can still conduct sales online until I can gain dual USA Costa Rica citizenship at which point as I understand it, I am good to go as far as “working” in Costa Rica? Thanks for any help that you may give and great blog…very informative!
Thank you for your comment! Import duties in Costa Rica are 29.9% for vinyl records (LPs) and 49.27% for turntables or other music playing devices. In order to obtain Costa Rican citizenship, you would need to first obtain Costa Rican residency via one of the applicable Costa Rica residency categories. Citizenship by residence requires 7 years living in Costa Rica as a resident.
hello if you have dual citizenship, can you renounce costa rican citizenship, if you have US citizenship
Hello, Johnathan! Yes, you have the option to renounce your Costa Rican citizenship at any time.
My paper work was delayed because of covid and the california elections. During that time I turned 25. Do you think I can contact someone and explain how external circumstances slowed my paper work processing. I recently turned 25 and there is a pandemic which has complicated things. The embassy here in the US was short and offered no help.
Hello, George! Thank you for your question. We need more detailed information regarding your case so we could help you. Please contact us personally by clicking the “Contact Us” button and we will be more than glad to assist you.
What if my Grandmother was born in Costa Rica? My Dad has no desire for dual but I do.
My wife and I are US Citizens only. Our son was born in CR in 2003 while we were down in CR serving as missionaries. We left CR when he was 2 years old and he hasn’t been back. He has never acquired a Costa Rican passport and has only ever traveled using a US passport. Now our son wants to join the Air Force. The recruiter is telling him he has to renounce Costa Rican citizenship. How is that done?
I am already a citizen of both the US and Costa Rica but I am changing my name here in the US (where I was born and currently live).
What happens with traveling back and forth?
Is it enough to bring my certificate of name change or do I have to change my name in both countries?
I’m from the USA. My grandparents emigrated to Costa Rica in the 1950s and became naturalized citizens. They both recently died in Costa Rica. I inherited their house after they passed away. Do I qualify for Costa Rican citizenship? Of so, how can I apply? I have all of their paperwork (e.g., Costa Rican passports, deed of their home, naturalization paperwork from the 60s). Thanks
Hello, Rafael! In your case, you can apply for Citizenship in Costa Rica only if you are less than 25 years old.