What I Learned the Hard Way about Notary Public Services in Costa Rica
Don’t make the same mistakes I made the first time I was required to have my signature notarized in Costa Rica. I did what I always did in the United States. I went to my
Don’t make the same mistakes I made the first time I was required to have my signature notarized in Costa Rica. I did what I always did in the United States. I went to my bank and asked for a Notary. This was mistake #1. My bank told me only lawyers can be notaries in Costa Rica.
So, I asked around for referral for a lawyer who was also a Notary Public. This was mistake #2 because the document I needed to sign in front of a Notary Public was a contract for a sale of a property in the United States. Notaries in Costa Rica cannot notarize documents for use beyond their borders, like the US.
Documents for use within the Jurisdiction of the United States
The only place you can get a document notarized for its use in the jurisdiction of the United States is the US Embassy in San Jose, by appointment only.
Requirements for notary services at US Embassy
∙ The person requesting the service must be present
∙ Proof of identity (passport or Costa Rican cédula)
∙ It is not necessary to be a US citizen, as long as the document is for use within the Jurisdiction of the United States.
∙ Fee: $50 USD per notarization (i.e. $50 USD for the first seal and $50 USD for each additional seal with a maximum of three documents per appointment)
Examples of notary services provided at US Embassy
∙ Acknowledgement of your signature
∙ Oath (or affirmation)
∙ Power of attorney
Examples of notary services NOT provided at US Embassy
∙ Vital records
∙ Apostilles (authentications)
∙ Criminal record checks
∙ Signature guarantees
∙ Authentication of Costa Rican civil documents
Preparation for notary appointment at US Embassy
∙ Bring valid government picture ID.
∙ Make sure you understand your document, since consular staff cannot explain its content to you.
∙ Complete document with appropriate names before you arrive. (Do NOT sign the form; you are required to sign it at Embassy in front of the consular officer)
∙ Indicate on the pages where you and the notary need to sign.
∙ The Embassy accepts US dollars, colones or payment by credit/debit card.
∙ If your document requires presence of witnesses, you are responsible for providing them. Consular staff cannot act as witnesses.
You will find more information about Notary appointments at the United States Embassy and a link to make Notary appointments at the US Embassy in San Jose on the United States Embassy in Costa Rica website.
Documents for use within the Jurisdiction of Costa Rica
You must use a Costa Rican lawyer who is also a Notary Public to notarize documents to be used within the Jurisdiction of Costa Rica. Unlike the United States, notaries are required to be a lawyer in Costa Rica. Becoming a Notary Public in Costa Rica requires additional education and you must practice as a lawyer in Costa Rica for two years before you can become a Notary Public.
If your Costa Rican attorney is a Notary Public they can draft instruments, wills and conveyances, and later acknowledge the authenticity of those documents. He/she can also witness your identity and legal capacity to sign these documents.
Why is it necessary to have a lawyer who is also a Notary Public in Costa Rica?
More types of legal transactions need to be recorded by a Notary Public in Costa Rica than in the United States. For example:
∙ Articles of incorporation
∙ Appointment of directors
∙ Shareholders agreements
∙ Powers of attorney
∙ Modifications such as the name, domicile, number of shares outstanding, capital increase, so on and so forth.
Real Estate Transactions
∙ Transfer of deeds
∙ Mortgages and cancellation of mortgages
∙ Tenancy in common
∙ Correction of boundaries
Additionally, notary services are required for the following transactions
∙ Authentication of signatures
∙ Wills and trusts
Do NOT assume that anything in Costa Rica will be the same as in your country of origin.
IF you must make assumptions, assume that everything will be different in Costa Rica than it is in your country of origin.
Contact the experts at Outlier Legal for more information about Notary Public Services in Costa Rica.