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Parental Consent to Leave Costa Rica With a Child: How Does It Work?

With a few exceptions, children can only leave Costa Rica with an exit permit issued by the Immigration Department

Parental Consent to Leave Costa Rica With a Child: How Does It Work?

In Costa Rica, the General Law of Migration has a special application for minors under 18 years old. The regulation is aimed to protect and guarantee “the fulfillment of the human rights of Costa Rican and migrant children and adolescents, in accordance with the international conventions on this matter” and looking into their “best interests.”

The ruling regulates the entry, stay and exit of minors in Costa Rica. This article will focus only on the exit requirements for leaving the country with a child. First thing to say is that, with a few exceptions, people under 18 years old can only leave Costa Rica with an exit permit issued by the Immigration Department (DGME in Spanish).

As stated in article 24 of the regulation, “to legally leave the country, any national or foreign minor must carry a valid passport in good condition, issued by the competent immigration authority, and must also carry a permit to leave the country when appropriate.” We will see below that this exit permit is necessary almost always.

The regulation defines the exit permit as a “license or consent granted to the minor so that they can leave the country.” This authorization “must be accredited by those who exercise legal representation, either in the exercise of parental authority (patria potestas) or by virtue of a judicial and/or administrative resolution, where indicated.”

Minors who require an exit permit to leave Costa Rica

Article 49 of the regulation to apply the General Law of Migration to children establishes that the minors who require permission to leave Costa Rica are:

  • Costa Ricans, even if they have dual nationality.

  • Foreigners who hold legal residence under the migratory categories of permanent and temporary residents and special categories, namely students, refugees, asylees and stateless persons.

  • The mothers of Costa Rican or foreign minors who have not yet reached 18 years of age.

On the other hand, the following minors do not need permission to leave the country:

  • Migrants who entered the country under the migratory category of non-residents (for example, as tourists), even though the term authorized to remain in the country has expired.

  • Foreigners who resign to the legal permanence granted through permanent residency, temporary residency, student residency, refuge, asylum or stateless condition.

  • Teens between 15 and 18 years old, Costa Rican or foreigners with legal permanence through the above-mentioned categories, who have gotten married and have the legal documents to prove it within the parameters established by the Costa Rican law.

  • Foreigners who carry a valid diplomatic passport.

The Immigration Department of Costa Rica grants both permanent and temporary exit permits for minors

The Immigration Department of Costa Rica grants both permanent and temporary exit permits for minors

Temporary or permanent exit permits for children

There are two types of authorizations the DGME grants to minors: temporary and permanent. Beware that, if you don’t explicitly ask for a permanent exit permit, you will start a process for a temporary one.

  • Temporary authorizations: Valid for 30 calendar days and, when requested, it may be used for one or several exits from the country, within the authorized period.

  • Permanent authorizations: Valid indefinitely and the minor may leave the country as many times as necessary without having to carry out formalities with the DGME, except if it is necessary to modify the child’s companions, for which there’s a procedure.

Both the temporary and the permanent exit permits will state who will be the minor’s companion, and this is information is subject to change at anytime if one of the parents or the legal representative requests it.

Note that permanent authorizations are more convenient, since you don’t have to get a new permit every time a minor needs to travel after the temporary permit’s validity expires.

How to apply for a minor’s exit permit

To get a minor’s exit permit, the process has to be done personally at the DGME premises. No appointment is needed. The application must be managed personally by parents or legal representatives. The people who can apply for the authorization vary depending on if it is temporary or permanent.

Temporary exit permit

This authorization must be managed personally by one of the following:

  • Both parents.

  • One of the parents, presenting a special power of attorney signed by the other parent, in which they authorize the other to manage the exit permit.

  • One of the parents in case of absence or conflict of parental authority, when a resolution issued by a judicial authority authorizes that the child leaves the country.

  • One of the parents in case the other is outside the country. The other parent has to go to the nearest Costa Rican Consulate, in order to authorize the exit permit from overseas.

  • One of the parents and a third person authorized by a special power of attorney where the other parent authorizes them to manage the exit permit for the minor.

  • A third person authorized by both parents when they reside outside the country and who have appeared at the nearest Costa Rican Consulate to fill the immigration form and give permission to the minor to leave the country.

  • A third person authorized by the Costa Rican National Children’s Board (PANI in Spanish) or a judicial authority to process the exit permit for the minor.

  • The legal guardian of the minor, whose representation must be registered with the Civil Registry if Costa Rican or duly legalized before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in case of being foreign.

Permanent exit permit

This authorization must be managed personally by one of the following:

  • Both parents.

  • One of the parents when, according to the birth certificate in the Civil Registry, is the only one that holds parental authority over the child.

  • One of the parents, when the other has died, according to a death certificate from the Civil Registry or from abroad, duly authenticated by the Costa Rican Consulate of the place where the death occurred and legalized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

  • One of the parents, when the parental authority of the other parent is suspended by a final judicial resolution.

  • One of the parents, when the other is in jail and through a power of attorney or an official document from the penitentiary center where they are being held.

  • One of the parents, when a court order establishes it.

  • The legal guardian of the minor, whose representation must be registered with the Civil Registry if Costa Rican or duly legalized before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in case of being foreign.

Requisites to apply for an exit permit for a minor

The regulation establishes the next requisites that parents or legal representatives of children must present at the DGME to apply for an exit permit for minors:

  • The minor’s passport.

  • Birth certificate of the minor. If the child is foreign, the birth certificate must be duly legalized by the Ministry of Foreign Relations. If the child was born in Costa Rica, the birth certificate must be issued by the Civil Registry and has a maximum validity of one year for nationals under 12 years of age. Citizens over 12 years of age must present their national teen ID.

  • Two recent passport size photographs.

The parents or legal representative that manage the exit permit must present the following documents:

  • Their ID, if parents are Costa Rican.

  • Their residence card (DIMEX) or valid passport, if the parents are foreigners and legal residents in the country.

  • The passport data page where the signature is registered, if the parents are foreigners.

Need help?

Outlier Legal Services, as a legal firm specialized in immigration, can help getting these exit permits for minors, if you need so. If you have questions about this or other matters related to immigration in Costa Rica, reach out and we’ll get back to you at the earliest.

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asolis@outlierlegal.com

Journalist with more than 10 years of experience in the media. In Costa Rica, Alessandro spent five years working in 'La Nación' newspaper. In Spain, he was a journalist for the digital newspaper 'Economía Digital' between 2017 and 2021. He also has experience in radio, advertising and production of live shows.

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