Vaccination Requirements in Costa Rica

peterchristopher's picture

Like most of us who were born in the first world, as an infant and child and young adult I was injected with vaccines. Overall my health is not terrible, but I have always had allergies. I researched the subject of vaccinations of children, and I was disturbed by what I found. It appears that many vaccines (past and present, third world and first world) contain unhealthy quantities of mercury, usually in the form of thimerosal. Additionally, there is some question about whether even aside from the mercury vaccines bias a child's immune response towards preventing uncommon ailments, instead of building a natural resistance to common ailments.

Here are a few links. Certainly you can find many, many more with your favorite search engine.

And finally this gives a recommendation I am inclined to follow (scroll all the way to the bottom):

"In summary, this is a vaccination schedule that I would recommend:

1. No vaccinations until a child is two years old.
2. No vaccines that contain thimerosal (mercury).
3. No live virus vaccines (except for smallpox, should it recur).
4. These vaccines, to be given one at a time, every six months, beginning at age 2:
1. Pertussis (acellular, not whole cell)
2. Diphtheria
3. Tetanus
4. Polio (the Salk vaccine, cultured in human cells)"

Our daughter is now almost two weeks old and very healthy. She was born at home, and we did not want to have any vaccinations and so we have not taken her to the hostpital.

In order to get a birth certificate, we will have to jump through a variety of hoops, and according to the folks at the TSE office, this includes getting vaccinations. (They need a copy of the blue vaccination record book in order to process the birth certificate.)

The one thing we are not open to is getting the vaccinations now. What would be best is some kind of legal examption; or perhaps the law here only "recommends" vaccinations and does not require them. But barring that, we'll have to come up with a special arrangement with a doctor to have them sign off in the little blue form even though we are using an "alternate" vaccination schedule.

Any experience and suggestions would be welcome on this topic.


Peter, Milyn, and Rosalinda


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so what are the vaccine requirements?

my husband and i are thinking about moving to costa rica in a few years with a child. what are the vaccine requirements for kids coming from the US? i am pregnant now and we are pondering our options. we do not want to get any inoculations if possible. is it feasible to move to costa rica w/ an unvaccinated child 3 or 4 years old? what about schooling? i have read over the comments as well as several other websites and it seems really unclear. does anybody know what the immunization requirements are for US kids moving to costa rica? thnx so much,

Doctor at Cima

Hi I know that it has been a long time since you posted this message but I was wondering you maybe you still had the e-mail or knew what doctor at Cima hospital was ok without administering vaccines to childres. I currently live in CR with my husband and daughter she is almost 2 yrs old and was a home birth and to date has not received any vaccines. When we are in CR in the past we have had a hard time keeping her vaccine free several times the seguro has come to our home and we've just barely gotten bye. Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated. you can e-mail me back at

exemption status

Hi, If you mean an exemption from vaccination requirements in order to attend public school in Costa Rica, it sounds unlikely, but since your kids are not Costa Rican it might be possible.  

outdated question


We are moving to Costa Rica by the winter this year and I was wondering how this turned out for you and your baby? Was it difficult to get exemption status for attending public school? thank you very much for your time... We are currently in new york city, usa and I am homeschooling to avoid this. If we have another baby abroad, I am curious what will happen ad what to expect concerning my 2 boys (ages 2.5 and 5.5).

Much appreciated,

Wow. Hmmmm...... All I can

Wow. Hmmmm...... All I can say is that there must be a good reason for me to be in CR for a while. When doing my research I saw that it would take about 2 weeks for a passport, but never really saw anything about the birth certificate. I didn't do a whole lot of research though as it was a very last minute decision since I was almost too far along to fly. I guess I had better get on top of things as soon as I can after he is born! Wow. Thanks again for the help, Martha

you need a miracle

Hi, You're welcome.  I think short of a miracle it's nearly impossible for me to imagine you being able to pull that off.  It is rare for the birth certificate even to be ready in less than two months; three months is more typical.  Then after that, you still need to get a passport, which is at least two more weeks.  Unless you have some secret avenue to get a fast birth certificate (and I've never heard of such a thing), I don't think the timeframe is realistic.


Peter, thanks for your

Peter, thanks for your response! I may have found a doctor who can help, not sure yet.... But we do have a friend staying with us who has been taking care of us already. It is very nice to have the help and I imagine we will need it even more once little Jaxon is born! This is our first child and we are very excited! So, how long did it take before you were able to leave the country with your child? Jaxon is due July 19th and our departure is scheduled for Sept. 7th. I do have insurance on the trip so hopefully we can change it with no problems if we have to. I feel the same way you do about "white" lies... But some things I dislike more. Martha

hi, it's possible, welcome to Costa Rica

Hi Martha, 

As I wrote in another comment below, "If your baby is born at home, and you get a doctor to issue the certificates for the birth, then you may be outside the radar of the caja/local health care workers.  It's a bit vague what the certificates from the doctor must say, but basically verifies the date and time of the birth.  You'll need many copies of this letter to apply for the birth certificate and also to apply for citizenships of your home country.   If you want to be out of the radar, never go to the local health clinic.  Just bring your certificates directly to the public registry in the appropriate city."

Unfortunately, for all the nice things about Costa Rica, IMHO for better or worse, right now the US has more liberties culturally and legally about the choices you can make with regards to your own children.  You or your husband or one of your friends who is most comfortable with white lies should prepare well for your birth by interviewing doctors and finding one who will help you get the exact required paperwork indicating that a baby was born, because that is the easiest.  You can also get 2 witnesses who are either C.R. citizens or residents if you fail to find a doctor BUT then there is a good chance the registrar will insist on seeing your vaccination records (which they don't insist on if you have a doctor's letter).  Plus you'll have fewer problems at the embassy later if you have an actual doctor's letter.  

I personally detest white lies and had a hard time with all this, and if it weren't for the excessive comfort of the Ticos who helped me, with this way of doing things, I wouldn't have been able to pull it off and we'd still be in Costa Rica with no papers.

These details aside, however, we applaud your plan as it was the same as ours and worked out; what a beautiful place and way to be born.  I don't know if this is your first or not but one thing I would say as an aside is that if you are able to have someone local who can come help out the first few days or weeks, even just to make some food and wash sheets or sit with you while your husband goes for a walk, that can be a big help; I found myself quite drained also by the experience, going immediately from having my wife taking care of me to me taking care of two people neither of whom was in a mood to express appreciation for the help, quite understandably.


costa rica birth certificate/vaccinations

Peter, My husband and I just came to Costa Rica to have our son be born here. We are planning an unassisted home birth. I was guessing I would take him to the hospital and say I just didn't make it in time but I really don't want to go to a hospital at all if I can avoid it and I definitely don't want my son filled with vaccines if I can avoid that as well. It seems as if you have some knowledge on this situation. I would really appreciate any help you may be able to offer. Martha Hawksley

midwife lead

Hi Wendy, Here's a lead on a midwife: "Call NATALIE at 2438/4026 OR 8837/5444."  Remember, it'll be easiest at the registrar if you have a doctor's note ;)  I'll email you also a few other notes. 

Home birth / vaccinations


Like you, I've also educated myself on the harm of vaccinations at such an early stage.  And at that, some of the vaccines that contain thimerisol, etc.  How did you find your midwife?  How did you go about your home-birth?  I am very interested in following through with a natural-home-birth but I need to know of the steps I'll need to take and who to get in contact with to set everything up? I am hoping you can assist me there :)

It's really sad that this country cares more about money than the safety of our children.  Knowing what I know about certian vaccinations, I would never (if I can help it) put them in my childs body.

I appreciate your time with this.  Please feel free to reply or send me an email at wendy (at) sadsoft (odt) com



The C.R. Public Health-Care System for babies

If your baby is born in a public hospital in Costa Rica, it will be given vaccinations, period.  And the public health system will follow that baby's growth carefully, giving abundant vaccinations at regular intervals.  It's all free, even the birth (usually).  They will even drive to your house to give the baby vaccinations if you miss your appointment.  However, once you are in the public system you cannot opt out.  There is no religious exemption, or any other exemption,  because it is viewed as the universal right of children to get health care, as defined by the caja.  The social workers will come in increasing numbers, even with the police, in order to vaccinate a child they believe is being neglected by lack of vaccinations.

If your baby is born at home, and then you bring it to a local health clinic, you're in the same path.  The local clinic, by the way, cannot and will not help in any way with registering your baby's birth.  That is completely separate.  The clinic only functions as the medical care facility and center for social-worker outreach.

If your baby is born in a private hospital, it depends on your arrangements.  Plan ahead.  You obviously pay for the birth, but at a cost far less than in the U.S.

If your baby is born at home, and you get a doctor to issue the certificates for the birth, then you may be outside the radar of the caja/local health care workers.  It's a bit vague what the certificates from the doctor must say, but basically verifies the date and time of the birth.  You'll need many copies of this letter to apply for the birth certificate and also to apply for citizenships of your home country.   If you want to be out of the radar, never go to the local health clinic.  Just bring your certificates directly to the public registry in the appropriate city.

One final note: it will take around three months to get the baby's birth certificate, from the time it is filed in the local registro.  Plan ahead.  Until you get that birth certificate, you can't get a passport from any country and cannot leave the country.

Enjoy your babies in Costa Rica.  Plan carefully; if you know what you want, it's probably possible with proper planning.


I can report that going throught the normal local route, that the government definitely does what it can to immunize all babies.  For instance, once you go to the local clinics, they insist on seeing the immunization records from your hospital.  And if you have a doctor-less homebirth, then they also insist on seeing these records at the registro in order to issue a birth certificate.

However, on the other hand, if you have a doctor's statement that confirm the birth, then they might need to see these records at the registro.

It is of course wise to plan all these things in advance, but I just don't have the character for it.  The long and the short of it is that it is possible to pull this off but it's not necessarily straightforward.  With a private doctor it's easier than in the public system, that's for sure.

Sorry this message is deliberately vague.  If you need very specific answers on this vaccination topic about Costa Rica please contact me through email or site messages from my user page.


a few more responses...

I received these two responses to my email:

1) our daughter was born at Cima in San Jose and she has not received any vaccinations to date. our pediatrician respects our choice and has never given us a hard time, nor mentioned that there any legal requirements for vaccinations in costa rica. it is your right as a parent to decide this.

2) Hi! First of all--CONGRATULATIONS!!! I'm so happy to hear about your successful home birth. My daughter had her baby here in C.R. and was hoping for a home birth. She had a wonderful midwife, but ended up having to go to the public hospital for a c-section. My point in telling you this is that she did not want her son to have any vaccinations. She was told that vaccinations were required and that her baby could not leave the hospital without them. We fought it as best we could but they never budged. She didn't feel like spending the rest of her life in the public hospital, so her son was given the vaccinations. He's now five years old and we were concerned that the would require vaccinations for kindergarten, but we had no problems.

My daughter just had to write a note explaining her stand.

My other daughter had her baby in C.R., too. Her baby was born in a clinic and no vaccinations were required. She was able to get the baby's birth certificate, no problem, thru the Registro Civil. I don't know if this information will be of any help because it seems that "the law" changes depending on who you're talking to. Sometimes I think that each person in a position of authority says what they "think" the law is, and state it as fact...but that's just me being my sceptical self...

Christian Science Church

Is there Christian Science Church in CR? If so they should know.

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