What is the role of the Public Registry of Costa Rica (PRCR) in real estate dealings?

by Quatro Legal Real Estate Team | Dec. 12, 2023 | Article, Real Estate

Every country has its processes, requirements, and formalities to record transfers of ownership over real estate assets that may vary significantly from country to country according to their real estate laws. Therefore, if you are going to purchase or sell properties in Costa Rica, your real estate attorney will most likely need to at least consult information in the Public Registry of Costa Rica. Therefore, it is important that all buyers and sellers of properties understand the role the Public Registry of Costa Rica plays in real estate transactions.

The Public Registry of Costa Rica is the government institution that supervises and regulates all deeds, documents, records, surveys, and general information pertaining to real estate properties, and legal entities. The Public Registry of Costa Rica includes, among others, the Real Estate Section and the Cadaster Section which play an essential role in documenting and safekeeping records and information related to properties of all kinds throughout all Costa Rican territory.

The Real Estate Section of the Public Registry of Costa Rica holds a record of any deed or title that creates, modifies, or extinguishes an ownership right, easement, encumbrance, mortgage, or any other right regarding real estate. These rights must be duly recorded on each property’s title in the Real Estate Section of the Public Registry of Costa Rica to give notice to third parties and be enforceable. Consequently, any right or title that is not recorded in the Real Estate Section of the Public Registry of Costa Rica is binding only on the executing parties and will not affect third parties. Buyers and Sellers of properties must understand that at any time and in any place, they have the ability to review their properties titles free by accessing the Public Registry’s website. The only requirement is to create an account in the system and establish a password.

On the other hand, the Cadaster Section of the Public Registry of Costa Rica records all surveys of properties, maritime land zone and easements, among others. Its main function is to record, define and organize land zoning, areas, measurements, boundaries, and all cartographic representations of terrains within Costa Rica’s borders. All surveys for titled properties and some untitled properties must be approved and recorded in the Cadaster Section of the Public Registry of Costa Rica in accordance with the formalities and requirements established by Costa Rican Law. Recording a survey in the Cadaster Section of the Public Registry of Costa Rica does not create any ownership rights. It is always important when buying property in Costa Rica to verify there is consistency in the information in both the Real Estate Section and the Cadaster Section of the Public Registry.

The process of understanding and processing the data in the Public Registry of Costa Rica can be quite tricky for expats and investors as the information is recorded in Spanish, content will include technical descriptions and legalities and should always be assessed and consider under the advised of the real estate firm or real estate attorney that has experience and is knowledgeable in real estate laws and practices.

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