Can You Search For Public Property Records in Costa Rica?
Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes
Quite often I receive an email from someone looking for property records.
Sometimes it’s the wife of someone who believes her husband bought a beach condo in Costa Rica for his lover. More often a loved one passed away and for some reason, the heirs suspect they own a property here. But they can’t find any documents.
In Costa Rica, properties, vehicles, boats, or aircraft are registered in the Registro Nacional or National Registry. This website is in Spanish only. This is a national registry, where you can find all titled real estate country-wide.
In other countries, such as the United States, you can find property records in the County Records, county courthouse, county recorder, city hall, or another city or county department. Information such as tax information, building information, owner history, and comparable properties is readily available. You can easily find property records by simply filling out the house number and street name of the property you’re looking for.
Well, to start with, we don’t have street names or even house numbers in Costa Rica. Learn more about how our address system functions, so you understand why it’s not so simple.
So how can you conduct a search of the property records in the National Registry? Learn all about it by going to this article on how to check the Costa Rica property title yourself.
To be able to search the property records, you only need one of several data options:
1. The name of the owner of the property (see more details below)
2. The passport number or Costa Rican ID number of the owner (see more details below)
3. The cedula or DIMEX (foreign residents) number
4. The title number or Folio Real number
5. The name of the corporation that owns the property
6. The corporate ID number
If you don’t have at least one of those data, you’re wasting your time. So, start digging before you contact us or a lawyer.
In Costa Rica, names function a bit differently from what you might be used to. Costa Ricans have two family names, the father’s name, and the mother’s name. They usually have one or two first names.
Since most foreigners like me have only one family name, this creates a bit of a mess when the registrar registers the property purchase. For example, if I am Ronald (First Name) Wilson (Middle Name) Reagan (Last name).
When I purchase a property, the registrar will probably register this property As Ronald (First Name) Wilson (First Last Name) Reagan (Second Last Name).
In some countries, depending on the person’s religion, people have 3 or 4 first names. Imagine how difficult it must be for the registrar to take the decision on how to register the property owner’s name.
Costa Ricans have one identification number that they receive when they’re 18 years old. This number stays the same forever and is used for the cedula (formal ID) as well as their passport.
The passports of citizens in most countries in the world usually expire after 4 or 5 years. Sometimes they’re renewed but often replaced and will then have another passport number. Therefore, we recommend keeping the expired passport that was used to purchase.
If the property was purchased using a passport as the identification, it might be impossible to find it. But if you know the cedula or DIMEX number it’ll be easy to find in a property records search.
For many years, property owners would hide by putting the property in the name of a corporation, such as a Sociedad Anónima or a Limitada. If a property is registered under a corporation’s name, you need at least the complete name, the corporate ID number, or the property number to find it in the property records.
Hire a Lawyer
If you are searching for property records and you don’t know where to start, don’t try to get a freebie. Hire a lawyer, one who speaks your language and specializes in real estate. Here are a few lawyers that we recommend.
Are you now ready to sell? Then contact us now, we might have an agent or an affiliate agent in the area that the property is located.
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I DO want to remind our readers that we appreciate any referrals you can send us. Also, please remember the GoDutch Realty agents when you talk about your home in Costa Rica, we appreciate it.