Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008


The national flower of Costa Rica is the purple orchid known as Cattleya Skinneri.

There are many orchid shows around the country, where they are exhibited along with the sale of other plants and supplies.

Specially during the months of February, March which is when most species are in full bloom.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

World Bank analysis

83 %of the countries in the world ranked below Costa Rica according to the World Bank who analyzed 209 countries between 1994 and 2004, they took in consideration the political, civil and human rights, political stability and violence, government effectiveness, unfriendly market policies, rule of law, and corruption control.

Costa Rica 83. %
Chile 76.7 %
Uruguay 62.1 %
Panama 55.3 %
Dominican Republic 48.1 %
Mexico 43.7 %
Brazil 43.7 %
Nicaragua 43.7 %
El Salvador 39.8 %
Argentina 38.3 %
Bolivia 28.6 %
Peru 27.2 %
Honduras 26.7 %
Paraguay 25.7 %
Ecuador 23.3 %
Guatemala 21.8 %
Venezuela 13.6 %
Colombia 5.8 %

Arenal Volcano

The Arenal volcano is approximately 4,000 years old and grew to 1,633 meters/ 5,372 feet in height, the area around it is a national park with a view point for tourists to see the lava flow day or night.
A few small fumaroles opened in it´s summit in 1938, then again in 1958 and 1960.
In 1967 the water temperature of Río Tabacón started rising, then in 1968, the volcano became active again and started blowing ashes that covered the capital of San José, 78 people died from nearby towns of Tabacón and Pueblo Nuevo, people had to carry their umbrellas to cover themselves from falling ashes, during this time President John F.Kennedy was visiting.
In the national park there are several marked trails that you can hike along part of the volcano to get a closer view.
One of the main attractions of Volcan Arenal are the hot water springs that flow from the top or the Arenal volcano, in recent years many hotels and pools have sprung up between the volcano and the town of La Fortuna, such as Arenal Springs, Baldí, Tabacón, there is also a small public area next to the road where people take a dip day or night.

Lic.Gregory Kearney Lawson.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Should I buy or should I rent

This is a common question that I have heard many times among people relocating to Costa Rica.
When someone has decided to move to another country, there wish is to be a homeowner and not rent for the rest of their lives, we all know the advantages of being a home owner, although now in some places in the USA it is better to be renting because of tax issues, however this is not a problem in Costa Rica since property taxes are usually very low.

Some people have been saying that it is better to rent for a period of time than to buy right away, this has several implications, we believe that a person relocating to Costa Rica has already decided to live here because they have visited the country on vacation and loved it enough to live here at least part time, so taking this in consideration, buying would be the more intelligent thing to do since real estate prices in Costa Rica are always going up and have never gone down in the past, yes they must go down at some point, but most likely not in the near future, since

Costa Rica is continually becoming more popular all the time, thereby increasing the demand of residential homes, the recent approval of the Free Trade Agreement with the USA will only add more demand to commercial and industrial property as well as residential homes.

I have seen several cases of people renting first and then deciding to buy the house that was being rented at a price quoted originally only to find out that a few months later the owner had already raised the selling price almost double, why did this happen, well the explanation is that the price was very low to begin and when she found out what other homes were going for she raised the price and the demand had also increased, the owner decided to move and find another deal, so far after about five years and several other opportunities the renter is still renting and probably will continue to do so.

Prices for real estate in Costa Rica vary a lot from as low as $50,000 to as high as a couple million dollars, depending on the area and the size.
There is always something available for any budget, cooler climates, warmer climates and everything in between.
A good idea when buying a house in Costa Rica and anywhere else for that matter is to know what your budget is for buying a property, what size land, house and specifications you absolutely need, what type of neighborhood and area, do you prefer near the beach ? in the mountains ? in the city or outskirts ?
By narrowing down your requirements you will save a lot of time and effort in choosing a house.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Things to do in Costa Rica

There are many things to do in Costa Rica Beaches are very pretty all are different, white sand, tan sand and dark sand and shells instead of sand.
Visit one of the eleven different micro climates in the country such as the cloud forest, rain forest, activities such as seeing the works of artisans, artists at different exhibits, beaches, canals of Tortuguero, canopy tours, climates, cloud forest, forests, mountains, see and buy hand painted oxcarts and souvenirs, white water rafting, learn spanish, surfing, have a beach lunch in Tortuga island, visit the volcanoes and hot water springs, volcanoes, canopy tour, learn spanish, go to concerts, walk along central avenue, go dancing, sing karaoke, visit little towns, go on train rides, sailing, fishing, swimming, boating, golf, canopy, snorkeling, bungee jumping, try your luck at the casinos.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Territorial divisions of Costa Rica, (Provinces and Counties)

Population= 4,133,884

Costa Rica consists of seven provinces (provincias): Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limón,Puntarenas, San José.
The provinces are further divided into 81 counties(cantones), which are subdivided into districts (distritos).

Province-Population - % of total-Pop. density (/km²) - Area - % of total
San José 1,345,750 35.3% 271.3 11,266 22.1%
Alajuela 716,286 18.8% 73.4 10,141 19.8%
Cartago 432,395 11.3% 138.4 9,754 19.1%
Puntarenas 357,483 9.4% 31.7 9,189 18.0%
Heredia 354,732 9.3% 133.5 4,960 9.7%
Limón 339,295 8.9% 36.9 3,125 6.1%
Guanacaste 264,238 6.9% 26.1 2,657 5.2%
Costa Rica 3,810,179 74.6 51,092
County Province
San José San José
Escazú San José
Desamparados San José
Puriscal San José
Tarrazu San José
Aserrí San José
Mora San José
Goicoechea San José
Santa Ana San José
Alajuelita San José
Vázquez de Coronado San José
Acosta San José
Tibás San José
Moravia San José
Montes de Oca San José
Turrubares San José
Dota San José
Curridabat San José
Pérez Zeledón San José
León Cortés Catro
Alajuela Alajuela
San Ramón Alajuela
Grecia Alajuela
San Matéo Alajuela
Aténas Alajuela
Naranjo Alajuela
Palmares Alajuela
Poás Alajuela
San Carlos Alajuela
Orotina Alajuela
San Carlos Alajuela
Alaro Ruiz Alajuela
Valverde Vega Alajuela
Upala Alajuela
Los Chiles Alajuela
Guatuso Alajuela
Cartago Cartago
Paraíso Cartago
La Unión Cartago
Jimenez Cartago
Turrialba Cartago
Alvarado Cartago
Oreamuno Cartago
El Guarco Alajuela
Heredia Heredia
Barva Heredia
Santo Domingo Heredia
Santa Barbara Heredia
San Rafael Heredia
San Isidro Heredia
Belen Heredia
Flores Heredia
San Pablo Heredia
Sarapiquí Heredia
Liberia Guanacaste
Nicoya Guanacaste
Santa Cruz Guanacaste
Bagaces Guanacaste
Carilllo Guanacaste
Cañas Guanacaste
Abangares Guanacaste
Tilarán Guanacaste
Nandayure Guanacaste
LA Cruz Guanacaste
Hojancha Gaunacaste
Puntarenas Puntarenas
Esparza Puntarenas
Buenos Aires Puntarenas
Mones de Oro Puntarenas
Osa Puntarenas
Aguirre Puntarenas
Golfito Puntarenas
Coto Brus Puntarenas
Parrita Puntarenas
Corredores Puntarenas
Garabito Puntarenas
Limón Limón
Pococí Limón
Siquirres Limón
Talamanca Limón
Matina Limón
Guácimo Limón

Christmas time in Costa Rica

December is probably the best time to visit Costa Rica.
There are parades and festivals of all kinds, two of the traditional parades are the Christmas parade and the horse parade which are held near the end of December, in recent years the Christmas parade had been replaced by the Parade of Lights organized by the Municipality of San José.
The Carnivals in Zapote and Palmares also attract huge crowds of people who go dancing, partying, beer drinking, and cruising around, they also have costarrican bull fights where many people gather in a rodeo style structure called el ¨redondel¨, many improvised bull fighters tease and get close to the bull, while the crowds laugh and scream every time the bulls catch or scares one of them, it is a dangerous sport and the red cross is always attending the improvised bull fighters that are caught and thrown up the air, very few have been killed.
At the end, the bulls never get hurt much less killed and it ends with a firework display.
People in Costa Rica celebrate the whole month of December and usually into January.
another traditional activity is the ¨avenidazo¨ which is the stroll along central avenue throwing confetti to others.
After people receive their ¨aguinaldos¨ which is the yearly Christmas bonus people start the serious Christmas shopping.
Costarricans become extra giving during the month of December and you will very likely see people and organizations collecting funds, toys and school supplies for underprivileged children in poor communities.

Tradition is a very important value that costarricans cherish, Christmas is more a religious holiday celebrated with a large Christmas dinner on the 24th of December where all the family gathers to exchange presents, see relatives that they may not have seen recently and share Tico tamales, Christmas cake,wine, coffee, beer, etc

New Years eve on the other hand is one big party, usually people gather in homes until midnight and then give each other a happy new year kiss, light up firecrackers, blow horns and dance, many have a lot of good luck belief which they do on December 31st, such as eating a dozen grapes at the stroke of midnight, start counting money for wealth, carry a suit case all around to travel during the year.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year !

Lic.Gregory Kearney Lawson.

Paternity immigration question, Costa Rica

Question from a reader:

My half sister was born in Peru. Her dad also my dad is costarican her mom is peruvian. She (my sister) has been living here in CR for 13 years now but my dad is a punk and doesn't want to help her because he only cares about his 3rd wifes´ family and himself. So now my little sister is 19 and she hasn't been able to get her CR cédula because my punk dad cant take the time to go with her to sign the paper at the Registro so she can get her cédula. She now has a daughter that was born here and is almost a year old and her boyfriend is a little kid and they are not going to get married. So i just want to ask. Is there anything else she can do to get her cédula or can i sign anything for her being her big brother or can our grandma sign anything so that she can be a legal Costa Rican? After all, she is half costa rican!
Answer :
Hello Yes, your sister as well as you are entitled to costarrican citizenship through her/your fathers nationality.But if he refuses to have her registered or accepts being the father then she will have to do another procedure to prove that she is his daughter.
This process is called a paternity investigation and is done through an attorney and through the courts in Costa Rica.
I have done many of these procedures and in the court process a DNA test is applied for, if he does not show up for the test after a couple of dates he will be considered the father of your sister along with tall the rights and obligations that that entails.After the Judgement is obtained it then is registered, finally after it is registered your sister will have costarrican citizenship.
This however must be done before her 26 birthday !!!!!!!The sooner the better,
I know it might seem like a complicated procedure but it really isn´t, it involves three procedures that are not that complicated.
Another option is to do a paternity acceptance with a Lawyer and have him sign the Lawyers protocol book where the original document of paternity is done by the Lawyer and then registered.
Many times a father will not want to go register as the father of his son or daughter if they are under 24 years old because of the possibility of having to pay for child support, so they wait until the child is over that age, but if they were not born in Costa Rica then it will be more complicated to obtain costarrican citizenship for the son or daughter.
If you would like more information or representation you can contact our offices at
(506)8-841-0007, (506)2-221-9462or at

Lic.Gregory Kearney Lawson.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Perpetual tourists

This question has been asked and answered many times,

Permanent residency is for those of you that want to live here permanently most of the year and not worry about immigration or getting back in the country or looking over their shoulder when your visa has expired.

Law number one in Costa Rica is you can do it if you think you can getaway with it!

But if you want to be on the correct side of the law, then get your permanent residency started if you plan on living here!

Many tourists get away with being a perpetual tourist but immigration, being a strange creature that changes constantly always changes it´s rules, their policy has always been that tourist visas are for tourists and permanent residency is for those that want to live here permanently.

Those perpetual tourists may be in for a big surprise when immigration decides to continue to crack down on them.

It is much easier to apply for residency and be legal, it does not matter how long they will take because you will be legal in the country no matter how long they take to approve your residency, the ball is in their side and you will be safe from having to pay bribes or end up in a cell awaiting deportation.

I have gone many times to immigration detention to get foreigners out of jail because they thought it wouldn´t be a problem and got caught in an immigration raid, most are Nicaraguans, Colombians and Dominicans but there are always several americans and Europeans that get caught and deported.

My best advice is don´t push your luck too much.

Lic.Gregory Kearney Lawson.

Have your Wedding Ceremony in Costa Rica........

In Costa Rica civil weddings are done by an Attorney/Notary Public which is a post graduate specialty where the Attorney acts as a Justice of the Peace and also has ¨Public Faith¨ for legal acts.
Costa Rica has become the new Hawaii for wedding ceremonies and eloping to the tropics,
Specially now that unique weddings are being offered for couples to have a memorable experience with their own personal touches.
Dream weddings are done in a variety of settings, some of the favorite ones are at the beach, at one of the seven volcanoes in Costa Rica, floral gardens, at national parks, next to streams, at a monastery, restaurants or at another meaningful place for both of you.
Another variation of popular weddings are done with a theme for a list of ideas go to
What does our office require from you ?
A photocopy of your passports, some personal data for constructing the documents, 2 witnesses and the fees depending on what services you require.

Below is a wedding form for couples who want to visit Costa Rica for their wedding and/or honeymoon, it can be sent to our e mail or fax.

Wedding form
Grooms Name : ______________________________
Email, phone number, _________________________
Wedding date/place:__________________________
Brides full name _____________________________

nationality ___________________, how many previous marriages _______, occupation _________________, age________, date and place of birth _________________, passport number _________________, exact physical address in home country ___________________________________
exact address in Costa Rica_________________________________
Grooms Full name: _______________________________________
nationality _______________________, how many previous marriages __________, occupation ____________________, age _________, date and place of birth ________________________________,
passport number _____________________________,
exact physical address in home country ____________
exact physical address in Costa Rica _______________
Brides parents name & nationality: ________________
Grooms parents name & nationality: _______________
Length of stay ___________________
Amount of people attending : ____________________
Preferred setting : Office _________ Beach ______ Mountain ________
Waterfall _________ Rain Forest _________ Volcano __________ Canopy _________ Undecided _____________
Services wanted :
Officiant ______ Photography ________ Video _______

Wedding coordination _______ Flowers _________________
Wedding Cake ________________________________
Catering service _______________________________
Lodging _____________________________________
Bridal gown and Tux rental ______________________
Professional make up ___________ Hairdresser ________
Wedding favors _______________________________
Limo service ____________, Manicure and Pedicure __________ ,

Personalized wine bottle ________
Wedding album ___________, Custom wedding webpage ______________, transportation __________________
Tours ________________________
Spa services ___________________, Wedding Arch ______________

Other services _______________________

Lic. Gregory Kearney Lawson.
Attorney at Law
Kearney Lawson & Assoc.

Ph:(506)8-841-0007, Ph/ Fax: (506)2-221-9462

Immigration Law project

I believe that the best way to do something about this Immigration Law Project is for all expats to unite, join forces and discuss a plan to make our voices heard with the right people.
I understand the concerns of many expats regarding this law and realize that this Law project would affect many people and benefit nobody.
Yes, the amounts expected are way out of reach for most residents living here and would cause great harm to both permanent residents as well as the rest of the country.
There should be a large but peaceful march down central avenue up to the Legislative assembly building, this is the way protests are done in Costa Rica and has shown to have positive results.
This march should be well planned out and Important points to take in consideration:

1- What are the intentions of this Law and who are the ones promoting it.

2- This Law project if approved cannot be retroactive as that would be against the constitution and the rights and guarantees of a free and democratic country, any new law can affect new applications for residents.
Still it is a good idea to take this law project seriously and show our concerns in an early orderly manner.

3- Experience shows that in the past, law projects are revised by adding and eliminating articles and that in the end, the law projects transformed and looks like a fraction of what the approved law is like.

4- The Law projects are approved in Congress(Legislative Assembly), before they are approved they have to be presented to the congressmen (Diputados) and approved in two different debates and only then can they become Law of the country.
During this process many things can happen, people who are against the Law project or in favor march to the Legislative assembly and picket with signs, present signatures, get press attention and speak a represntative or two can sometimes speak directly with the Legislators to demonstrate their points of view and their concerns.The Law project may or may not be sent to the constitutional court for review to see if there are any articles that may be unconstitutional.

5- It is important to inform the press so that they can help bring attention to understand the effects of the proposed Law and it´s possible consequence's, I can very much help with this as I am a former Photojournalist with friends among the national and international press.

Lic.Gregory Kearney Lawson

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Some of the Services we offer at

Law/legal services:
We offer Legal advice and representation in several areas such as International Law, Business and Commercial Law, Family Law, Immigration and Residency procedures, Relocation services, Notary services, Real Estate law, Estate Law, Trade mark, name and product registration, due diligence as well as a variety of related services which are described in our web page.

Notary Public and serving processes:
Property and vehicle transfers and sales, translation services, serving or foreign judgements, Notary Acts, documents of perpetual memoriam, legalization of foreign and national documents for registration in other countries.
We offer Notary services in Costa Rica and the USA. In Costa Rica you will need a Public Notary for most everything you do personally or in business, such as buying or selling a vehicle or a property, Notary Acts, Declarations under oath, Residencies, Wills, Marriages, etc.
In Costa Rica to be a Notary you must first graduate as an Attorney. A Public Notary is a Law specialty which goes beyond just witnessing a signature, a Notary must also interpret the will of all parties involved in a transaction, advise all parties, put it into legal form and transcribe it into a protocol book, besides collecting the necessary signatures and filing out any documents in the appropriate register.

Permanent residency ( regular residency, Pensionados, Rentistas, Investors), Temporary residency ( work permits, study permits, visas), passports, permits, etc
Costa Rica has become a most desirable relocation and retirement destination. It is a country with an unequaled combination of mountains, beaches, waterfalls, volcanoes, and eco-tourism. The climate and friendliness of its people continue to attract expatriates and those looking for a slower pace of life.
Costa Rica offers:
Welcoming attitude toward foreigners
Health care that is accessible and affordable.
A favorable exchange rate
Easy internet access, cellular phones, fax machines
Low costs of food, utilities, hired help and entertainment
Excellent and inexpensive public transportation
Democratic government with a focus on pacifism and ecology
Two English newspapers, and access to cable and Direct TV with U.S. channels
Shopping malls, European furniture, and imported U.S.foods and clothing
English-language movies and books

Real Estate Sales:
Residential, commercial and industrial property listings all over the country but specializing in areas of american/european interest.
We have many listings in most areas around the country and will offer and show you the properties according to your specifications and desires.
If you do not see a property that you like you can contact us by phone, fax or email let us know what type of property you are interested in, we are constantly updating our lists of properties for sale and rent and we may well have what you are looking for and hasn´t been uploaded to the web page yet.
As an extra service for soon to be expats we also offer a few listings for sale from clients in the USA that are offering to sell their properties so that they may come here to buy their dream home or business.

Wedding planning :
Paradise Marriages is a one of a kind wedding planning company of which no other company in the country is offering the same services. Costa Rica has become the new destination for couples to have their wedding, it is the next Hawaii at a fraction of the cost.
Custom wedding packages, wedding ceremonies, marriage registration in foreign countries.
We design dreams for the perfect wedding. As weddings in Costa Rica are legal contracts, our firm will handle the essentials of your wedding contract, so that your marriage will be recognized in any nation in the world.
We can help with our group of consultants and with wedding coordinators on site to handle the details, and let you concentrate on the joy of starting your new life together.
We also work with couples that are renewing their vows and can offer a special package for you.
At our web page you can find our Paradise Marriage packages, our Exotic locations and finally to our Fantasy weddings. We also have a section on Photography to help you capture the very personal and special moments.
From flower arrangements and photography, to honeymoon recommendations, we enjoy working with you to create memories that will last a lifetime!
From the simplest elopement package to the most elaborate wedding possible, and from the most traditional ceremony to the most surreal one ever, we can help you.
For both Bride and Groom we need the following data:
Home Address
Passport Number
Birth Date
Place of Birth
Father's full name and nationality
Mother's full maiden name and nationality
Parent's address
Original copy of passport
Some requirements may be waived or substituted. call or write us for more information.

Genealogy research:
Do you or someone you know have any relatives that live in Costa Rica or that have lived in Costa Rica? We do extensive research and investigations throughout the country to find out information about your family, ancestors or relatives, some may still be living here that you may not know about.
Would you like to get in touch with someone you haven´t seen in a long time ? Have you wondered what happened to that special person in your life? A relative or girl friend or boy friend that lived or was from Costa Rica, a good friend whom you lost contact with? We have been successful in joining many people together after many years of separation.
Are you adopted? No matter how good your adoptive parents have treated you it is healthy to know who your biological parents are.
Out of curiosity or for peace of mind and emotional stability it is good to find out all you can about them. You may have mixed feelings about this but from the experience we have had in these cases we have found out that at the end it is a very satisfying experience.
We can help you get your family tree started and learn more about your roots. This information can be helpful for things that you may not even imagine, such as medical illnesses, causes of death, interesting and unusual facts, occupations, and much more.

Costa Rican culture has a large mixture of backgrounds, although there are many descendants from different parts of Europe, many settlers came from a variety of other parts of the world.
Many common surnames in Costa Rica come from Great Britain, Spain, Italy, Germany, Israel, Poland, China, USA, and the Caribbean as well as other parts of the world.
Private Investigations:
Our staff includes many collaborators from all areas including police authorities, politicians, ex-policemen, international private investigators, security guards, street people and bodyguards.
We have close following, check ups on backgrounds, and contacts of daily activities plus others.
Review of records on properties, liens and encumbrances or hidden notations that may cause problems in the future, including unknown background problems.
Ensure that the property you are about to buy does not have any problems.
We can find out information that may be helpful for you to know in your business dealings. If you would feel more comfortable in knowing what kind of reputation a company or an individual has or what their business and financial state is, then we can help you.
Also we will investigate previous job experience, stability, and any other information you may need.
Would you like to know if your spouse is telling you the truth, if he or she is seeing other people, having an affair or cheating on you. Find out and get it over with,
Photography available as well as hourly or daily reports.
The world is full of frauds and thieves that prey on people that trust the wrong people, Costa Rica is no exception and although many good deals can still be found, it is always best to confirm and make sure that your deal is not too good to be true.
Recently there were several financial frauds that are being investigated and getting ready for trial, so it is wise to be careful when dealing with a great opportunity.

A note about Common law and Civil law

Common Law vs. Civil Law

This is how people get mixed up when reading forums with opinions that are not based on facts.
In Costa Rica the Laws are based on Civil Law which is based on Roman Law and Canonic Law, Roman Law is the common foundation upon which the European legal order is based on.
Civil law or Roman-Germanic law or Continental law is the predominant system of law in the world, in which an abstract code of law rules that judges apply to the various cases before them.
It is different from common law, in which abstract rules are derived from specific cases.
Costarican Law is similar to Napoleonic code because the Laws are organized in code books instead of purely past cases.
Besides code books judges also take in consideration past cases, evidence etc.
In civil law nations, an investigating magistrate supervises police investigations, but the magistrate does not determine innocence or guilt and functions much as a grand jury does in common law nations.
With the difference that in Civil Law the jury for the most part does not know anything about law and generally make a decision based on their feelings, in Common law a group of one, three or five judges is used depending on the court that reviews the case.

Lic.Gregory Kearney Lawson.
Attorney at Law/Real Estate Broker

Costa Rica Blog by AttorneyKearney

Hello Everyone
After reading and hearing so much misinformation and rumors about Costa Rica on the net from many boards and so called experts and expats I decided to start keeping a record of the information and advice that I have been giving out for many years to help out and diminish the stress that many soon to be expats and businesses get when relocating, visiting or investing in Costa Rica.
This blog is here for the purpose of informing you about Costa Rica, relocating, costa rica living, investing, retiring, doing business, immigration, Laws, Real Estate, buying property, everyday life and will be adding more data along the way.
To get an idea about the services we offer our contact information is below

Lic.Gregory Kearney-Lawson.
Attorney at Law/Real Estate Broker
Ph:(506) 8-841-0007
Ph/Fax: (506) 2-221-9462