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How to Get Your Documents From the USA the RIGHT Way

At Costa Rica Immigration Experts, we get a lot of questions about how to get your documents from the USA the RIGHT Way. Your birth certificate and your criminal record check will need to meet the requirements of Costa Rica immigration. It’s one thing to get the documents, but it’s a whole other thing to get them authenticated, apostilled, and translated. Most of the process has to be done in the USA — you can’t do much with your foreign documents in Costa Rica if they are not adequately apostilled.

Birth Certificate

The first document is your birth certificate from the state you were born. Each state has its own Vital Records office, typically run by the state’s Department of Public Health. You MUST have a LONG FORM certified copy of your birth record, and it must include your parents’ names, or Costa Rica Immigration will NOT accept it. Some states will let you order an Apostilled birth certificate. Otherwise, you will need to send the birth certificate to the corresponding authority (typically your state’s Secretary of State) to be Apostilled. Your original birth certificate may or may not be able to be Apostilled by your state if it’s too old. In this case, we suggest you order a new certified copy of your birth record.

Example: Illinois
If you were born in Illinois, you’d need to obtain a copy of your birth certificate from the Illinois Department of Public Health:
http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/birth-death-other-records/birth-records/obtain-birth-certificate
Once you receive the birth certificate, you will need to have it apostilled by the Secretary of State’s Index Department:
http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/index/apostilles.html
The birth certificate is now ready to bring to Costa Rica to be translated locally.

Criminal Record Check

The second document to obtain is your criminal record check. Costa Rica Immigration used to accept criminal record checks from local municipal or county police stations, but what is required now is a federal record from the FBI. You can request a Criminal Record Check from the FBI directly, but it is much easier and faster to use an FBI-approved channeler for this service:
https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/compact-council/list-of-approved-channelers
The Channeler will be able to take your fingerprints on-site, or you can obtain and fill out a fingerprint card at your local police station.

You MUST ask for an AUTHENTICATED response from the FBI, or else the U.S. Department of State will NOT accept it for an apostille. We suggest using National Background Check, Inc. for this purpose since they provide authenticated criminal record checks that can be apostilled.
http://www.nationalbackgroundcheck.com/fbi-channeling.htm

Once you’ve received your criminal record check from the FBI, you’ll need to have it apostilled by the U.S. Department of State. You can send it directly to them for processing, but it is well worth it to use a local agent to handle your Apostille on your behalf, such as US Legalization. Once you’ve received the apostilled criminal record check, it is now ready to bring to Costa Rica to be translated.

At Costa Rica Immigration Experts, we will help you by providing you with the necessary step-by-step instructions for getting your documents from your home state. Contact us now for a free assessment!


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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. We are applying for residency in May after the birth of a child here. Can we do fingerprints in Costa Rica and mail them to the US? Or do we need to fly back to the United States to do our fingerprints at a police station in the US? I’m so kicking myself for not doing it while we were there over the holidays. Thanks.

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