No. 76.
Mr. Hall to Mr. Bayard.

No. 606.]

Sir: I had the honor to transmit to the Department with my dispatch No. 574 of the 27th October last a copy and translation of the recent law of Salvador upon the general subject of citizenship and the status of foreigners residing in that Republic. I now inclose a copy and translation of a law of Costa Rica, upon the same subjects, promulgated on the 21st ultimo.

This law contains no requirement in regard to matriculation nor, so far as I have been able to discover, any other particularly objectionable features. Article XVI, which corresponds to Articles 39, 40, and 41 of the law of Salvador, contains the following in regard to alleged denials of justice:

Foreigners can only appeal to diplomatic intervention, in case of a denial of justice, or of willful delay in its administration, after having in vain exhausted all the resources created by the laws, and in the manner prescribed by international law.

I shall be glad to receive any instruction the Department may be pleased to give me in regard to this law.

I have, etc.,

Henry C. Hall.
[Inclosure in No. 606.—Translation from the La Gaceta of Costa Rica, of December 22, 1886.]

The Permanent Commission of the Constitutional Congress of the Republic of Costa Rica, considering:

That the enactment of a law as the complement of the constitutional provisions in regard to citizenship, alienage, and naturalization is of urgent necessity;
That in like manner it is desirable to condense in one code the disconnected, supplementary and incomplete regulations, upon the subject, existing in different collections of laws; in response to the initiative of the executive power, qualified as urgent—

Decrees the following law relating to foreigners and naturalization:

Article 1.

Costa Ricans by origin are:

The legitimate child of a Costa Rican father, whatever may be the place of his or her birth.
The illegitimate child of a Costa Rican mother, whatever may be the place of his or her birth.
The illegitimate child of a foreign mother acknowledged by the Costa Rican father.
The child born or found in the territory of the Republic of unknown parents or of unknown nationality.
The inhabitants of the province of Guanacaste who have permanently settled therein since its incorporation with the Republic (December 9, 1825), up to the treaty of 15th April, 1858, with Nicaragua.
The children of a foreign father born in the national territory, who, after reaching twenty-one years of age, inscribe themselves, of their own free will, in the civil register, or are inscribed by the free will of the father, or, in his default, of the mother, before completing that age.

Article II

Children, under twenty-one years of age, of a Costa Rican father who has lost his nationality, may, at their majority, claim the Costa Rican nationality by declaring the same before the diplomatic agents or consuls of the Republic, if they reside abroad, [Page 96] or before the department for foreign relations, if they reside in the national territory. If they should reside in this Republic, and upon reaching majority should have accepted any public employment, or have served in the army or national marine, they shall be held to be Costa Ricans without the need of other formalities.

The same shall be understood as regards the natural children of a Costa Rican mother who may have loss her nationality and have not been recognized by the foreign father.

Article III.

Naturalized Costa Ricans are—

Foreigners who shall acquire, or may have acquired, Costa Rican citizenship in conformity with the law.
Costa Ricans who having lost their national character shall recover it.
The foreign woman who marries with a Costa Rican, a condition that she retains in her widowhood.

Article IV.

The Costa Rican nationality is lost by—

The Costa Ricans who become naturalized in a foreign country.
Those who accept public offices, titles, or decorations conferred by a foreign government without the consent of their own, with the exception of literary, scientific, and humanitarian titles, which can be freely accepted.
Those who, without the permission of the Government, take military service in a foreign nation or enlist in a foreign military corps.
The minor illegitimate child of a Costa Rican mother, upon being recognized by his or her foreign father, with the consent of the former.
The Costa Rican woman who marries a foreigner, a condition which she conserves during her widowhood, except that in case she does not acquire the nationality of her husband in virtue of the laws of his country she shall conserve her own.

Article V.

The Costa Rican who may have lost his nationality may recover it—

If included in paragraph 1 of the foregoing article by returning to the territory of the Republic and declaring before the department of foreign relations that he wishes to settle in Costa Rica and that he renounces his foreign nationality.
If included in paragraph 2 by declaring expressly before the department of foreign relations that he has renounced the office, title, or decoration conferred on him by a foreign government.
If included in paragraph 3 of the same article, by soliciting the permission of the Government to return to the territory of the Republic, and if granted, by returning to Costa Rica to fulfill the requirements demanded of a foreigner who solicits naturalization.
If included in paragraph 4 by declaring, on attaining his majority, in the ministry of foreign affairs, that he chooses the Costa Rican nationality, or by his father subscribing him in the civic register before that age.
If included in the 5th paragraph, the widow on the dissolution of her marriage can return to the territory of the Republic and declare in the ministry of foreign affairs that she wishes to settle in the Republic and renounces her foreign nationality.

Article VI.

The husband’s change of nationality, which took place during the marriage, causes the wife to change her nationality, if according to the laws of the country whose nationality the husband might adopt the wife follow the condition of the latter.

Article VII.

The rule that the child conceived is reputed as born for all that may be of benefit to him, may be called to the aid of him who wishes to acquire or keep the Costa Rican nationality.

Article VIII.

Every foreigner can be naturalized in Costa Rica who satisfactorily proves:

That he is of age according to the laws of his country.
That he has a profession, trade, or income on which to live.
That he has lived at least one year in the Republic and has observed good behavior.

[Page 97]

Article IX.

A letter of naturalization will not be granted to the citizens or subjects of a nation with which the Republic is at war; nor to those judicially declared in other countries to be pirates, slave-traders, incendiaries, coiners of false money, or forgers of banknotes or other documents of public credit, nor to assassins, kidnappers, nor robbers. The naturalization paper which a foreigner may have fraudulently obtained in violation of the law is null and void.

Article X.

The foreigner who wishes to be naturalized shall apply personally or by means of a special agent to the ministry of foreign affairs, and shall manifest his intention of becoming a citizen of Costa Rica and of renouncing his nationality. That petition shall be passed to the Government of the province or district where the foreigner has lived, with the object of obtaining the declaration of three or more witnesses with respect to the points mentioned in Article VIII.

On the conclusion of the judicial inquiry, and after its return to the ministry of foreign affairs, should it be favorable to the petitioner, and should there be no legal obstacle, the Government shall grant the naturalization paper; otherwise, they shall refuse it. The resolution adopted shall be published in the official newspaper.

The provisions of this article do not comprise foreigners who may be naturalized according to law. Neither does it comprise those who have a right to claim or choose the Costa Rican nationality, for whom a single declaration, made before the diplomatic agents or consuls of the Republic abroad, or in the ministry of foreign affairs, is sufficient.

Article XI.

The naturalization of a foreigner lapses by his residence in the country of his birth for two consecutive years, unless it be caused by the fulfilling of an official commission of the Government of Costa Rica or with its permission.

Article XII.

The change of nationality produces no retroactive effect.

Article XIII.

Naturalized citizens have the same right as natives to the protection of the Government of the Republic. Notwithstanding, if they return to the country of their birth, they remain subject to the responsibilities they may have incurred previous to their naturalization. They have the same rights and obligations as citizens by birth, but they will be ineligible to offices and employments for which, according to law, nationality by birth is required.

Article XIV.

Foreigners enjoy the rights that Article 12 of the Constitution specifies and other analogous rights stipulated in treaties with foreign countries.

Article XIV.

Foreigners can without losing their nationality establish their residence in the Republic for all legal purposes; notwithstanding the Government can expel administratively and summarily, with the previous consent of the council of the Government, every foreigner who has no occupation or recognized way of living, or who may have been condemned in a foreign country or in the Republic for any of the crimes specified in article 9, or who may take an active part in the political affairs of the country, or, in a word, who may be a mischief maker. For like motives and with a like procedure the Government can refuse any foreigner an entrance to the country.

Article XVI.

Foreigners are obliged to contribute towards the public expenses in the manner in which the laws establish, and to obey and respect the institutions, laws, and authorities of the country, submitting to the decisions and sentences of the tribunals, without being able to establish any other recourses than such as the laws concede to citizens of the Republic. They can only appeal to diplomatic intervention in case of a denial of justice, or of willful delay in its administration, after having in vain exhausted all the recources created by the laws, and in the manner determined by international law.

[Page 98]

Article XVII.

Foreigners do not enjoy the political rights which pertain exclusively to citizens, so that they can neither vote nor receive votes for any appointment at a popular election, nor he nominated for any other employment or commission invested with authority or jurisdiction, nor associate themselves for the purpose of taking a part in the political affairs of the Republic, nor take any part therein, nor exercise the right of petition in matters of that nature.

Article XVIII.

Foreigners are free from military service, nevertheless domiciled foreigners are under the obligation to serve as police when the safety of property is imperiled, or the public peace of the place where they are settled is endangered.

Article XIX.

The stipulations of international treaties about citizenship, alienage, naturalization, rights and duties of foreigners remain unchanged.

  • Andres Saenz,
  • M. Guevara,


Bernardo Soto.

The Secretary of the Department of Justice,

Mauro Fernandez.