Costa Rica Administration Offices
Contact information for the national and local administrative centers of Costa Rica, including where to go for residency papers, vehicle registration papers, driving licenses and more...
Costa Rica has seven provinces (provincias): Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limón, Puntarenas, and San José. Provinces are further divided into municipalities (municipalidades or cantons - cantones) and districts (distritos).
Immigration services are provided by the Department of Immigration (Dirección de Migración y Extranjería de Costa Rica). Applications for residence permits (cédulas de residencias) are made at the Immigration Office.
- Department of Immigration (in Spanish)
At: La Uruca, San José; next to the Dirección General de Aviación Civil
Tel: 2299 8026
Tel: 900 1234 5678 for appointments
Open: Monday to Friday from 08:00-16:00; closed the last Friday of the month. No entry without appointments after 12:00
Recently, it has become possible to renew residence permits at some Costa Rica Bank (Banco de Costa Rica) branches.
Civil Registry Offices
The Civil Registry (Registro Civil) records and issues certificates for births, marriages, and deaths. It also issues Costa Rican identity cards. The registry is part of the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones (the supreme electoral authority of Costa Rica). Services are available online.
- Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones (in Spanish)
At: Calle 15, between Avenidas 1 and 3, San José
Tel: 2287 5555
Open: Monday to Friday 08:00-16:00
- Regional offices are located throughout Costa Rica; find a local office on the map
The Public Registry (Registro Nacional) is the authority in charge of registering corporations (personas juridicas), real property (bienes inmuebles), vehicles and other movable property (bienes muebles), liens (security interests), and survey maps (catastros). The public can research each of these online.
- Registro Nacional (in Spanish)
At: Situated 500m to the east of the Iglesia Católica de Zapote, San José
Tel: 2202 0800
- To find a local office in Costa Rica: Click here
All vehicles in Costa Rica must be registered in the Vehicle Section of the Public Registry. Here it is possible to carry out a vehicle title search to determine if a vehicle is free from any liens or encumbrances.
When a vehicle is purchased, a Notary Public should issue a bill of sale (Escritura de Traspaso), which is recorded in the National Registry. After the sale is recorded, the buyer should receive the original deed and the new Title (Certificado de Propiedad).
Foreigners staying in Costa Rica for more than three months must obtain a Costa Rican driving license. Driving licenses are issued by the Consejo de Seguridad Vial (COSEVI).
The main licensing office in Costa Rica is at La Uruca in San José.
At: La Uruca, San José
Tel: 2257 7200 / 2257 7006 / 2257 7018
Open: 08:00-11:00 for foreigners
- For further information and contact details of other official licensing offices by region: Click here (in Spanish)
- For further information, see the Guide on Exchanging a Driving License
Residents of Costa Rica must register and pay for healthcare benefits at the Social Security Administration (Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social - CAJA). It is also the office to go to in order to register employees.
- Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (in Spanish)
At: Avenida Segunda between Calles 5 and 7, San José (main office)
Tel: 2539 0000
Open: Monday to Friday 07:00-15:00
Once a Costa Rica corporation has been publicly registered, a tax identification number must be obtained from Costa Rica's Ministry of Finance (Tributación Directa) and an annual fee must be paid.
- Tributación Directa (in Spanish)
- Find addresses and contact details of tax offices in Costa Rica (PDF)
Ombudsman (La Defensoría de los Habitantes)
The Ombudsman's Office receives and investigates complaints about violations of human and civil rights. The Ombudsman can start legal procedures against the government and public or private institutions. The Ombudsman is appointed by, and reports to, the Assembly.
- La Defensoría de los Habitantes de la República de Costa Rica
At: Barrio México, Calle 22, Avenida 7 y 11, San José
Tel: 2258 8585 / 800 258 7474
Fax: 2248 2371
The Costa Rica Health Department (Ministerio de Salud) issues health permits (Permiso Sanitario de Funcionamiento) for food and hygiene-related businesses including restaurants.
- Costa Rica Health Department
At: Calle 16, Avenidas 6 y 8, San José
Tel: 2223 0333