This article will provide guidance on how the central authority works in Costa Rica.  The primary goal of establishing the Hague Service Convention in 1965 was to provide a more efficient and standardized way for international process service. Since its 2016 accession, Costa Rica has maintained its status as a Hague Service Convention signatory.  Click here for How the Hague Convention Simplifies International Process Service.

A ‘letter of request’ must be filled out and delivered to the central authority in Costa Rica with all the required paperwork for papers to be served under the Hague Convention. After that, the central authority examines the paperwork and requests for service.  After verifying the provided information’s accuracy and completeness, the service request is sent to a lower court to finalize. After the service has been completed, the paperwork is sent back to the central authority in Costa Rica. They will then complete the paperwork confirming service has been completed and return it to the United States. Click Here for Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers!

Faster and cheaper service is often available under the Hague Convention since it avoids the usual diplomatic and consular procedures. Therefore, formal service in Costa Rica is most often performed by the Hague Convention. However, even though the Hague Service Convention can help smooth the path of service, serving legal papers abroad is still tricky. To ease the minds of the parties in the case and allow them to focus on the matter as a whole, it is preferable to involve the services of a private process service agency like Undisputed Legal. We ensure that your papers adhere to the Hague Convention’s requirements without you having to worry about it at all. If you found this article helpful, kindly consider leaving us a review. Click here for information on How Rush Process Service Can Expedite Your Case.

Letters Rogatory may be used to complete service of process in Costa Rica. The majority of nations that have not ratified the Hague Convention or an equivalent treaty use letters rogatory as their official service method. However, unlike service under the Hague Convention, the procedure for serving papers by Letters Rogatory is often much more time-consuming and costly. For this reason, letters Rogatory is not a preferred method of serving documents in Costa Rica. Click here for information on How Service of Process Ensures A Solid Foundation.

Sometimes, it can be more prudent to use an agent or a process server like those at Undisputed Legal in Costa Rica to finish service. In many cases, interacting with an agent may result in far quicker service than any formal way. Because of the potential unenforceability of judgments acquired via agent service in Costa Rica, informal service is no longer appropriate. However, if you want papers served promptly but are not pursuing judgment enforcement, service by the agent can be the way to go. Click here for information on How Process Servers Protect Your Rights: Myths Debunked.

Which judicial authority is supreme in Costa Rica?

In contrast to the legislative and executive branches, the supreme power of the republic, the judiciary, has a crucial function outlined in Articles 9 and 152 of the Constitution. The judicial branch comprises the Supreme Court of Justice and any other courts formed by legislation (Article 1). In addition to carrying out its constitutionally mandated duties, the Judicial Branch is also responsible for hearing and ruling on issues involving property, the constitution, families, and agriculture, as well as civil, criminal, juvenile, commercial, labor, and administrative law. With the assistance of law enforcement, if required, it will make final judgments and carry them out. Click Here for information on the Code of Civil Procedure in Costa Rica!

In areas under its purview, the Judicial Branch is bound solely by the Constitution, the law, and its own determinations. The Judicial Branch has devised a three-part structure—the jurisdictional, the auxiliary, and the administrative spheres—to carry out its constitutionally mandated primary function of dispensing justice. The agencies responsible for enforcing legal obligations fall within the jurisdictional domain.  Click here for information on How Timelines Are Important in Process Serving.

The highest court in the land is the Supreme Court. That Court is the supreme authority in the nation. Subject matter jurisdiction, territory jurisdiction, and monetary amount are the three pillars upon which it is structured. These variables decide the court that hears a matter. The Supreme Court decides on issues of territorial jurisdiction and the amount at stake. Click here for information on How To Identify A Good Process Service Agency.

Five judges serve on the three Courts of Cassation and seven on the Constitutional Court, for twenty-two justices on the highest court in the land. For eight-year periods, the Legislative Assembly appoints each of them. The Constitutional Court is one of four chambers comprising the Supreme Court of Justice. The other three are courts that handle cassation matters.

The Judicial Investigation Agency, the Department of Public Defenders, the Judicial School, the Electronic Centre for Jurisprudence Information, and the Judicial Archive and Registry are all established by the Organic Law of the Judicial Branch to assist in the administration of justice.

Which is the central authority in Costa Rica under Hague Convention

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship  (General Directorate and the Foreign Policy Department) is the Costa Rican Central Authority, and they can refuse any request for service that is not accompanied by a Spanish translation. Thus, it is strongly suggested that you produce Spanish translations of all papers while seeking service under the Hague Service Convention. Collaboration comes under the umbrella of the Minister appointed and needs to adhere to the country’s foreign policy. Consequently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs becomes the first conduit for international relations within the Republic of Costa Rica. 

The Ministry is responsible for coordinating international interests, which means that they provide recourse to the Executive branch on conducting themselves in an international sphere. This would mean that they have to address economic and political content in a global arena, which includes the Hague Service Convention.

If you want to serve papers informally via an agency, the need for translation is assessed individually; nonetheless, it may still be required in cases where the recipient does not possess fluency in English. Translations into the person’s native language may still be necessary to comply with U.S. due process laws, which mandate that all individuals understand and respond to papers served upon them. Our Undisputed Legal process servers are local to the area and can help serve your papers efficiently. The advantage of having local process servers is that our servers are familiar with every single part of the service of process requirements in Costa Rica and can expedite your papers as well. 

However, formal service under the Hague Service Convention often takes three to six months. While informal service typically takes one to two weeks, it may be finished in as little as one day.  A significant holdup might occur if the required paperwork is not completed correctly or if improper procedures are followed. Finding a professional process server like those at Undisputed Legal with expertise effectuating service overseas is crucial for ensuring the quickest service possible.

How can you serve documents in Costa Rica?

A Costa Rican court must have subject matter jurisdiction and direct the appointee to serve the documents received from the US court for the appointment to take effect. Using Letters Rogatory is an option for achieving this goal. Both time and money will be required for this procedure. To that end, this isn’t a viable choice if the service has a tight deadline.

The possibility that the service is required to be able to resist a move to quash is another issue with process serving outside the US. Based on past cases, these requests are usually approved when the party served can prove to the court that the service was flawed. In certain cases, this may be circumvented if the process server appears in court and provides testimony on the manner and conditions of service. This and the attorney’s request for extraordinary circumstances will sometimes be granted. Consequently, retaining a process server whom you can trust is exceedingly important, like those at Undisputed Legal. 

Regular litigation procedures are required for cases that do not qualify as summary or abbreviated. Filing a complaint with the court with jurisdiction over the matter is the first step in initiating a civil lawsuit. The defendant must be notified of litigation initiation upon filing the complaint. To inform the defendant of the litigation, a copy of the complaint and a summons are physically served on them, requiring them to submit a response. A notificador employed by the that received the complaint Costa Rican cou is often responsible for serving the process.

What sets apart service in Costa Rica and the steps a US Litigant has to follow

The judicial branch in Costa Rica employs a full-time process server for each court, who is responsible for physically serving summonses within their jurisdictional zone and processing the service electronically. To find the person who has to be served with a lawsuit, it is customary and sometimes required that the party that files the case do all the preparatory work. The person initiating the case or their attorney should coordinate serving with the court process server once they have been discovered. It entails picking up process servers at the courthouse and transporting them to the site since most do not have vehicles.

According to the Civil Code, a copy of the complaint and summons must be left with any individual above fifteen to be served at the defendant’s address. The defendant must respond within thirty days after receiving the complaint and summons. The defendant must attach all evidence and a list of witnesses that would contradict their charges to their response, which must either acknowledge or deny the allegations included in the complaint.

If the defendant does not reply to the complaint within thirty (30) days, the civil action against them would proceed as if they had responded, and all of the accusations in the complaint would be treated as valid. The defendant can state any affirmative defenses and, if necessary, file a countersuit in the response. At this stage, the defendant also has the option to submit any motions that address the lawsuit’s procedural issues, such as challenges to jurisdiction or the service of process. The process moves to the evidence collection step if the defendant responds to the complaint within the allotted period. Enlisting a private process service agency like Undisputed Legal is always advisable to ensure that your papers are served within a specific period. 

What about Evidence in Costa Rica

After the preliminary pleadings are finished, the court will begin the forty-day evidence-collecting phase. While the plaintiff is doing so, they gather evidence to support the claims made in the complaint, while the defendant does the same to refute them.  During the proceedings, the judge has the authority to summon the parties to appear in court at any point to answer questions about the cause of action, either at the request of either party or on their initiative. The Code of Civil Procedure governs the process for interrogating a defendant or plaintiff on the facts giving rise to the cause of action.

One typical procedure in Costa Rican courts is to schedule a time for the defendant to testify. The plaintiff in the action must prepare written interrogatories (do not exceed twenty questions) before the planned hearing and submit them to the court in a sealed envelope before or on the day of the hearing. During the hearing, which the judge oversees, the presiding officer opens the envelope that contains the questions to be asked of the defendant. It is the judge, not the attorney, who poses the questions. The judge has the discretion to reject any or all of the interrogatory questions they deem irrelevant based on their discretion. The attorney has the authority to request more explanation or ask clarifying questions.

A court-appointed translator must translate both the questions and the answers given if one of the parties or witnesses does not speak Spanish.

What Makes a Power of Attorney Valid in Costa Rica

A formal Power of Attorney authorizes the agent (apoderado) to act on the grantor’s behalf.  A Costa Rican firm may also provide power of attorney for corporate business. Costa Rica’s three main Powers of Attorney documents are the Poder Generalissimo, General, and Especial.

The Poder Generalísimo grants the most broad Power of Attorney under the Civil Code.  Typically, in the US, one may delegate the POA to [A.] real estate deals, [B.] physical property sales, [C.] bank and financial institution transactions, [D.] business processes, [E.] risk insurance and [F.] trust, estate, and beneficiary transactions. A Poder Generalissimo may have limits that prevent the agent from acting.  Additionally, the duration of the power of attorney may be limited. Poder General is an administrative Power of Attorney. Hence, its scope is limited.  This document allows the agent to handle your affairs without granting them that power.   The Poder General is controlled by Civil Code Article 1255, which lists various authorizations. 

A Poder Especial, commonly known as a Special Power of Attorney, authorizes a selected agent to undertake the responsibilities listed in the instrument The agent will only be allowed to carry out the acts mentioned in the mandate when they have special authority for a defined judicial or extrajudicial act; this power will not extend to any activities that are judged a natural consequence of the acts that the agent is responsible for carrying out. A public deed is required to give the special authority for an act or contract that needs public registration; registration in the Registry is not required.

A party must specifically name each action they want your agent to do in the Poder Especial because of its narrow scope. It is important not to presume that the agent has the authority to do anything until you grant them that authority in the Power of Attorney. At Undisputed Legal, we can help you identify the specifics of the particular power of attorney in different regions. 

Notarisation and the Power of Attorney

The National Registry of Costa Rica must register both the Poder Generalissimo and the Poder General for them to be legitimate. In other words, a Costa Rican Notary Public must be present when they are transcribed and given.  A Notary Protocol book is required to record these Powers of Attorney, along with the grantor’s signature. Once the Notary has extracted the necessary information, they will enter it into the National Registry. Under Costa Rican law, a Costa Rican Consul may operate as an acting Notary Public; therefore, granting them their presence is an option for a Costa Rican Notary Public.

Performing the Poder Especial in a Notary Protocol book is necessary if the act being granted necessitates registration with the Costa Rican National Registry.  For instance, to avoid public registration issues with the resulting sales deed, a Notary Protocolo book must be used to award a Special Power of Attorney to sell the property.   The Special Power of Attorney needs the grantor’s signature validated by a Notary Public; a Notary Protocol book is unnecessary for other activities, such as interacting with government entities.

You may also need to provide an agent with power of attorney to act on your behalf if you own a Costa Rican or limited liability company.   All three Powers above of Attorney forms are equally permissible for the company to give. At Undisputed Legal, we can ensure that the documentation required for a power of attorney can be provided efficiently and without any further hassle to our clients. We understand the importance of powers of attorney documents, and our experience with clients has been based on preserving your trust. We guarantee that your papers are taken care of. 

Is a US notary valid in Costa Rica?

A Notary Public must acquire a vehicle or property in Costa Rica, transfer the title at the Public Registry, register a mortgage, organize a business, or record a shareholder agreement or power of attorney. When an experienced Notary Public handles their work, clients can be sure their public instruments will be designed appropriately, their finances will be well-managed, and their objectives will be reached quickly.  The U.S. Embassy notarizes documents for usage in the nation.

To submit an affidavit to a consular officer who may administer oaths or affirmations, one must first write a voluntary statement of facts and then swear or affirm. An oath is any statement that a person is ethically required to perform something honestly and truthfully. An affirmation, like an affidavit or a witness’s vow to testify honestly, is official and solemn.  The National Notary Directorate licenses Notary Publics in Costa Rica. Costa Rican notaries publics may verify signatures and fulfill other legal obligations. When a party engages Costa Rican notaries, they will seal the document the client wants certified or validated. The document must be apostille-marked to be valid outside Costa Rica. 

The Notary Public will send the paper to the Costa Rican Ministry of Foreign Relations for legal apostille. If a party needs the certification and Apostille translated into a language other than English, the Notary Public may arrange for a Ministry of Foreign Relations-approved translator. Just because a document is legally binding does not always mean its information is accurate or legitimate. 

Hiring a competent process server, such as Undisputed Legal in Costa Rica, may alleviate concerns about possible legal ramifications arising from improper service. We are constantly enhancing our knowledge base to ensure that our service does not create any difficulties or hurdles in court. Contact us to guarantee diligent and extensive process service so you never have to worry about your documents going off-grid again.

Written by: Undisputed Legal Inc.


Documents can be faxed at (800)-296-0115, emailed to, mailed to 590 Madison Avenue, 21 Floor, New York, New York 10022, or dropped off at any of our locations. We do require pre-payment and accept all major credit and debit cards. Once payment is processed, your sales receipt is immediately emailed for your records.

Drop-offs must call and make an appointment first to be added to building security to permit access to our office. Documents for service must be in a sealed envelope with payment in the form of a money order or attorney check (WE DO NOT ACCEPT CASH) payable to UNDISPUTED LEGAL INC.; Our receptionist receives all documents.


Alaska | Alabama | Arkansas | Arizona | California | Colorado | Connecticut | District of Columbia | Delaware | Florida| Georgia | Hawaii | Iowa | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maryland | Massachusetts | Maine | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | North Carolina | North Dakota| Nebraska | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | Nevada | New York | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Virginia | Vermont | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming


Albania | Andorra | Anguilla | Antigua | Argentina | Armenia | Australia | Austria | Azerbaijan | Bahamas | Barbados | Belarus | Belgium | Belize | Bermuda | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Botswana | Brazil | British Honduras| British Virgin Islands | Bulgaria | Canada | Cayman Islands | Central and Southern Line Islands | Chile|China (Macao) | China People’s Republic | Colombia | Costa Rica | Country of Georgia | Croatia | Cyprus | Czech Republic| Denmark | Dominican Republic | Ecuador | Egypt | Estonia | Falkland Islands and Dependences | Fiji | Finland | France | Germany| Gibraltar | Gilbert and Ellice Islands | Greece | Guernsey | Hong Kong | Hungary | Iceland | India | Ireland | Isle of Man | Israel | Italy | Jamaica | Japan | Jersey Channel Islands | Jordan | Kazakhstan | Korea| Kuwait | Latvia | Lithuania | Luxembourg | Malawi | Malaysia | Malta | Mauritius | Mexico| MonacoMontenegro | Montserrat | Morocco | Namibia | Netherlands | New Zealand |Nicaragua | Norway | Pakistan | Panama | Paraguay | Peru | Philippines | Pitcairn |Poland | Portugal | Republic of Moldova | Republic of North Macedonia | Romania |Russian Federation | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | San Marino | Saudi Arabia | Serbia| Seychelles | Singapore| Slovakia | Slovenia | South Africa | Spain | Sri Lanka | St. Helena and Dependencies | St. Lucia | Sweden | Switzerland | Taiwan | Thailand | Tunisia | Turkey | Turks and Caicos Islands| UkraineUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland| Uruguay | US Virgin Islands | Uzbekistan | Venezuela | Vietnam


New York: (212) 203-8001 – 590 Madison Avenue, 21st Floor, New York, New York 10022
Brooklyn: (347) 983-5436 – 300 Cadman Plaza West, 12th Floor, Brooklyn, New York 11201
Queens: (646) 357-3005 – 118-35 Queens Blvd, Suite 400, Forest Hills, New York 11375
Long Island: (516) 208-4577 – 626 RXR Plaza, 6th Floor, Uniondale, New York 11556
Westchester: (914) 414-0877 – 50 Main Street, 10th Floor, White Plains, New York 10606
Connecticut: (203) 489-2940 – 500 West Putnam Avenue, Suite 400, Greenwich, Connecticut 06830
New Jersey: (201) 630-0114 – 101 Hudson Street, 21 Floor, Jersey City, New Jersey 07302
Washington DC: (202) 655-4450 – 1101 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 300, Washington DC 20004

Pick up the phone and call Toll-Free (800) 774-6922 or click the service you want to purchase. Our dedicated team of professionals is ready to assist you. We can handle all your Costa Rica process service needs; no job is too small or too large!

Contact us for more information about our process-serving agency. We are ready to provide service of process to all our clients globally from our offices in New York, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C.

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives”– Foster, William A


The information contained herein has been prepared in compliance with Section 107 of the Copyright Act. Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works. The articles/Images contained herein serve as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, educational, and research-as examples of activities that qualify as fair use. Undisputed Legal Inc. is a Process Service Agency and “Not A Law Firm” therefore the articles/images contained herein are for educational purposes only, and not intended as legal advice.