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How to authenticate documents from Canada

A bit of background – I’m a Canadian with an approved residency application, which wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Johanna of Costa Rica Immigration Experts. It turns out my file was buried deep in the catacombs gathering cobwebs. Just asking about the status of my file did nothing to change its fate. CRIE got immigration to dig the file out of its bureaucratic grave and see the light.

So last month, I returned to Vancouver to get documents from Canada, this time for my upcoming citizenship application. The requirements are the same as an immigration application. The birth certificate wasn’t required, as TSE (the agency that handles naturalizations) can pull the info from immigration. But the criminal record check has to be recent (within the last three months), so I went ahead with both documents.

Canada is not a party to the Apostille Convention. All official documents from Canada must be legalized by the embassy of Costa Rica in Canada before use in Costa Rica. When I applied for residency in 2012, things were a bit simpler, but recently you have had no choice but to get Global Affairs Canada involved in the process.

Let’s follow the steps to get your Canadian birth certificate and criminal record check for Costa Rican residency or citizenship. Please look at the source documents, which I will link to within this article. I am not a lawyer, so please do your homework.

Step 1. Get Birth Certificate

First, your original Birth Certificate may work only if it’s a long-form Birth Certificate (with your parent’s names). Global Affairs only authenticates signatures of current officials (such as the presiding Registrar General who signed your birth certificate).

Ordering a birth certificate differs depending on the province where you were born. In my case, I was born in Québec, so it was a simple application through the Directeur de l’état civil. Be sure to order the long form with the names of the father and the mother on it!

Step 2. Get Criminal Record Check

Get a criminal record check from the RCMP headquarters in Ottawa. You can get another police certificate from a local RCMP detachment or police department. Still, it must be notarized before sending it to Global Affairs to authenticate the Canadian notary’s signature. You can save yourself the trouble and get the record check from RCMP HQ.

You can use an RCMP-accredited company to get your criminal record checked. I have used and recommended the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires, which has offices throughout Canada. If you need help to make the trip to Canada, contact them anyway – they have ways of digitizing an ink fingerprint submission. Be sure to order the fingerprint-based criminal record check from RCMP headquarters in Ottawa.

Step 3. Prepare the package for the Embassy of Costa Rica in Ottawa

Pay the consular fees ($40 USD per document – so, $80 USD for birth certificate and police record) to the Embassy of Costa Rica, Consular Services via a deposit to their Bank of Montreal bank account (see Legalization of Documents).

Could you include an addressed, pre-paid envelope for the Embassy to return your legalized documents? They prefer couriers (FedEx, UPS, DHL); you can address it to Costa Rica.

Step 4. Send the entire package to Global Affairs Canada in Ottawa

Send the whole package to Global Affairs in Ottawa to authenticate documents from Canada. They will authenticate the relevant documents free of charge and deliver the package to the Embassy of Costa Rica in Ottawa.

Your package should contain the following:
– Authentication Request Form detailing which documents to authenticate (birth certificate and police certificate) and instructions to forward to the Embassy of Costa Rica.
– Birth certificate (original) and Criminal Record Check from RCMP HQ in Ottawa (original)
– Cover letter for the Embassy of Costa Rica explaining which documents to legalize.
– Receipt of deposit of $80 USD to the Embassy of Costa Rica.
– Pre-paid envelope to get the documents back.

Step 5. Legalize Documents in Costa Rica

Once your documents from Canada are in Costa Rica, you’ll need to legalize the signatures of the Embassy officials at the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores in downtown San José. CRIE will assist you in legalizing it for an additional fee.

Step 6. Translate to Spanish

Since documents from Canada are not in Spanish, you’ll need to have them translated. The translation needs to be complete and literal. It should be done in Costa Rica ONLY by an official translator. CRIE will help you with the translation as well.

CRIE can help you get your documents from Canada, especially with the parts in Costa Rica (authentication at Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores and the official translation) through their services. I highly recommend using them to avoid wasting time – a solid year, in my case.



Authenticating Canadian documents can be complex, but following the steps outlined in this guide ensures that your documents are properly authenticated and ready for use. Remember to determine the document type, obtain a certified copy, have it notarized, authenticate it through Global Affairs Canada, and legalize it through the Embassy or Consulate of the country where it will be used.

We hope this guide has helped you with the information you need to authenticate your Canadian documents. If you have any more questions or need help with the authentication process, please don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance.

-Co-written by Johanna Alvarez (Immigration expert) and Glenn Tellier (Founder of CRIE and Grupo Gap).

[email protected]


Frequently Asked Questions


What types of documents can be authenticated from Canada?

Various documents can be authenticated from Canada, such as birth, marriage, and death certificates, criminal record checks, educational documents, power of attorney, and corporate documents.

Would you like me to get a copy of the document to authenticate it?

You can obtain a certified copy of the document from the issuing authority in Canada, such as the Vital Statistics office or educational institution.

Can I notarize the document myself?

No, you need to have the document notarized by a notary public, who the government authorizes to certify legal documents.

Would you like me physically present in Canada to authenticate my document?

You can only have the document authenticated by submitting it to Global Affairs Canada through mail or a designated courier service.

How long does it take to authenticate a Canadian document?

The processing time for authenticating Canadian documents can vary depending on the document type, and the volume of requests Global Affairs Canada receives. However, the standard processing time is usually 15-20 business days.

Can I use a third-party service to authenticate my Canadian document? Answer:

Yes, you can use a third-party service specializing in document authentication services to help you with the process.

Is there a fee for authenticating Canadian documents?

Yes, there is a fee for authenticating Canadian documents, which varies depending on the document type and the payment method.

Do I need to get my document translated outside of English or French?

Yes, suppose the document is not in English or French. In that case, you must have it translated into either of these languages by a certified translator before submitting it for authentication.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. This is some really good information about getting documents. I liked what you said about how in some cases you need to get a birth certificate issued in the past six months for things. That wasn’t something I was aware of when it comes to using birth certificates.

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