Registering a Birth in Costa Rica

Information on how to register the birth of a new baby and how to name your child...

After the birth a temporary birth certificate (Certificado de Declaracion de Nacimiento del Registro Civil) is issued. The birth is usually registered automatically by the hospital with the Civil Registry Office. If a birth has taken place at home, then documentation proving birth and vaccinations must be taken to the Civil Registry offices (Registro Civil). It is recommended to contact the civil registry before the birth to find out which documents will be required.

Children born in Costa Rica are automatically entitled to Costa Rican citizenship.


When the birth is registered the child has two surnames (apellidos), required for official records. The father's first surname is the child's first surname (primer apellido); the mother's first surname becomes the child's second surname (segundo apellido). In addition, most Costa Ricans have a middle name. For example:

Alberto José García Molina (father) has a child with María Luisa Hernán Solis de García (de García denotes that she is married to Alberto). They have a child whose first name and middle name are Julio Javier. His name for official records is Julio Javier García Hernán. Foreigners with only one surname may find that for official records the surname is added twice, so John Smith becomes John Smith Smith.