Costa Rica > Constitution

    { Official Title: Constitution of the Republic of Costa Rica }
    { Adopted on: 7 Nov 1949 }
    { Amended on: 8 June 1954, 15 June 1956, 20 May 1959, 12 May 1961, 25 June 1963, 24 June 1965, 31 May 1968, 11 July 1969, 17 May 1971, 5 June 1975, 22 May 1975, 6 June 1975, 9 June 1975, 15 June 1977, 18 May 1981, 2 June 1982, 1 June 1984, 18 Aug 1989, 18 May 1991, 1 July 1993, 3 June 1994, 6 June 1995, 29 May 1996, 17 June 1997, 2 July 1997, 23 July 1997, 27 May 1999, 8 June 2000, 22 June 2000, 31 May 2001, 3 June 2001, 28 May 2002, 1 July 2003, 15 July 2003 }
    { ICL Document Status: 5 Oct 2005 }

    { Editor's Note:
    The current ICL edition is based on the unofficial translation provided to the public by the US Embassy. It has been translated from Spanish. For the purpose of this edition, paragraph numbers have been added. Formulations with "shall" have been changed to ICL translation style. }

We, the Representatives of the people of Costa Rica, freely elected members to the National Constitutional Assembly, invoking the name of God and reaffirming our faith in democracy, decree and enact the following Constitution of the Republic of Costa Rica.

Title I  The Republic

Article 1  []
Costa Rica is a free and independent democratic Republic.
Article 2  []
Sovereignty resides exclusively in the Nation.
Article 3  []
No one may usurp sovereignty; anyone who does it commits the crime of treason to the Nation.
Article 4  []
No person or group of persons may assume the representation of the people, usurp their rights, or make petitions in their name. Violation of this article is sedition.
Article 5  []
(1) The national territory is bounded by the Caribbean Sea, the Pacific Ocean, and the Republics of Nicaragua and Panama. The boundaries of the Republic are those fixed by the Cañas-Jérez Treaty of April 15, 1858, ratified by the Cleveland Award of March 22, 1888, with respect to Nicaragua, and by the Echandi Montero-Fernández Jaén Treaty of May 1, 1941, with regard to Panama.
(2) The Coco Island, located in the Pacific Ocean, is part of the national territory.
Article 6  []
(1) The State exercises complete and exclusive sovereignty over the air space above its territory, over its territorial waters within a distance of twelve miles measured from the low-tide mark along its shores, over its continental shelf and its insular undersea base, in accordance with principles of International Law.
(2) It also exercises special jurisdiction over the seas adjacent to its territory within a distance of two hundred miles measured from the same mark, in order to protect, preserve and exploit exclusively all the natural resources and wealth existing in the waters, soil and subsoil of those zones, in accordance with those principles.
Article 7  []
(1) Public treaties, international agreements and concordats duly approved by the Legislative Assembly have a higher authority than the laws upon their enactment or from the day that they designate.
(2) Public treaties and international agreements referring to the territorial integrity or the political organization of the country require the approval of the Legislative Assembly by a vote of not less than three fourths of its total membership and the approval of two-thirds of the Members of a Constitutional Assembly called for the purpose.
Article 8  []
Foreign states may only acquire within the territory of the Republic, on a reciprocal basis, any real estate as necessary to base their diplomatic representations, notwithstanding what international agreements provide.
Article 9  []
(1) The Government of the Republic is popular, representative, participatory, alternative and responsible. It is exercised by the people and three distinct and independent branches: Legislative, Executive, and Judicial.
(2) None of these Branches may delegate the exercise of their own functions.
(3) A Supreme Electoral Tribunal, with the rank and independence of the Government Branches, has the exclusive and independent responsibility of the organization, direction and supervision of suffrage-related acts, as well as any other functions vested in it by this Constitution and the laws.
Article 10  []
(1) A specialized Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice declares, by the absolute majority vote of its members, the unconstitutionality of provisions of any nature and acts subject to Public Law. The jurisdictional acts of the Judicial Branch, the declaration of the elections by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal and any other acts determined by law cannot be challenged following this procedure.
(2) This Chamber also:
a) Solves any conflicts of jurisdiction between State branches, including the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, as well as any other entities or bodies established by law.
b) Hears any consultations on constitutional amendment bills, ratification of international agreements or treaties and other bills, as provided by law.
Article 11  []
(1) Public officials are mere depositaries of authority. They are obligated to comply with the duties which the law imposes on them and cannot usurp powers which the law has not vested in them. They must take an oath to observe and comply with this Constitution and the laws. The action to establish their criminal liability for their acts is public.
(2) Public administration in general is subject to evaluation of results and to budget control, resulting in personal liability of the officials regarding the fulfillment of their duties. Statutory law determines the measures to ensure evaluation of results and budget control in all public institutions.
Article 12  []
(1) The Army as a permanent institution is abolished. There must be the necessary police forces for surveillance and the preservation of the public order.
(2) Military forces may only be organized under a continental agreement or for the national defense; in either case, they are always subordinate to the civil power: they may not deliberate or make statements or representations individually or collectively.

Title II  Costa Ricans

Article 13  []
The following are Costa Ricans by birth:
1) A child born within the territory of the Republic to a Costa Rican father or mother;
2) A child born abroad to a born Costa Rican father or mother, who is registered as such in the Civil Register by the will of the Costa Rican parent during its minority, or by his own will up to the age of twenty-five;
3) A child born in Costa Rica to foreign parents, who is registered as a Costa Rican by the will of either parent during minority or by his own will up to the age of twenty-five;
4) An infant, of unknown parents, found in Costa Rica.
Article 14  []
The following are Costa Ricans by naturalization:
1) Those who have acquired this nationality under former laws.
2) Nationals of other countries of Central America and Spaniards and Iberian-Americans by birth, who have resided officially in the country for five years and meet any other requirements prescribed by the law.
3) Central Americans, Spaniards and Iberian-Americans who are not native-born, and other foreigners who have been domiciled in Costa Rica for at least seven years and meet any other requirements prescribed by the law.
4) A foreign woman who loses her nationality by marriage to a Costa Rican.
5) Foreign persons who lose their nationality by marriage to Costa Ricans or who after being married two years to Costa Ricans, having resided in the country during the same period of time, indicate their desire to acquire the Costa Rican nationality.
6) Anyone who receives honorary nationality granted by the Legislative Assembly.
Article 15  []
(1) Anyone who applies for naturalization must provide evidence of good behavior, demonstrate that he has a known occupation or means of livelihood, show that he speaks, writes and reads in Spanish language, subject himself to a comprehensive test on the history and the values of the country, promise to reside within national territory regularly and swear to respect to the constitutional order of the Republic.
(2) The requirements and proceedings to apply for naturalization are established by law.
Article 16  []
Costa Rican nationality is not lost and cannot be waived.
Article 17  []
Acquisition of nationality transcends to minor children in accordance with the regulations established by law.
Article 18  []
Costa Ricans must observe the Constitution and the laws, serve and defend the country and contribute to the public expenses.

Title III  Foreigners

Article 19  []
(1) Foreigners have the same individual and social rights and duties that Costa Ricans do, with the exceptions and limitations established by this Constitution and the laws.
(2) They may not intervene in the political affairs of the country, being subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of justice and the authorities of the Republic, and may not resort to diplomatic channels, except as provided in international conventions.

Title IV  Individual Rights and Guarantees

Article 20  []
All persons are free within the Republic; no one under the protection of its laws can be a slave.
Article 21  []
Human life is inviolable.
Article 22  []
Every Costa Rican may move about and stay anywhere within the Republic or abroad, provided he is free from any liability, and return whenever it may be convenient to him. No requirements can be demanded to Costa Ricans in order to prevent their entrance into the country.
Article 23  []
The domicile and any other private premises of the inhabitants of the Republic are inviolable. However, they may be searched with a written warrant issued by a competent Judge, either to prevent the commission of crimes or their impunity, or to prevent serious damages to persons or property, subject to the appropriate provisions of law.
Article 24  []
(1) The right to intimacy, freedom and secret of communications is guaranteed.
(2) Private documents and written, verbal or other communications of the inhabitants of the Republic are inviolable. However, a law, which enactment and amendment requires the vote of at least two thirds of the entire membership of the Legislative Assembly, determines those cases in which Courts of Justice may order the seizure, search, or examination of private documents, whenever this is absolutely necessary to clarify matters submitted to their cognizance.
(3) Likewise, this law determines the cases in which Courts of Justice can order the intervention of any communication and indicates the offenses in which investigation the exercise of this exceptional investigatory power can be authorized, and the period of time during which such an intervention is permitted. The law also determines the responsibilities and penalties of any officials who apply illegally this exception. Any judicial resolution under this provision must be duly reasoned and can be immediately enforced. Its application and control is the responsibility of judicial authorities and cannot be delegated.
(4) The law also determines in what instances competent officials of the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic may examine accounting books and related documents for fiscal purposes as well as to control the correct use of public funds.
(5) A special law, passed by two thirds of the entire membership of the Legislative Assembly, determines which other bodies of the Public Administration are authorized to examine the documents established by said law in the performance of their duties of regulation and control for public ends. This law also provides the cases when such an examination is appropriate.
(6) Any correspondence seized or information obtained as a result of the illegal intervention of any communication has no legal effect.
Article 25  []
The inhabitants of the Republic have the right of association for lawful purposes. No one may be compelled to form a part of any association whatsoever.
Article 26  []
(1) Everyone has the right to meet peacefully and unarmed, whether it is for private business or to discuss political affairs and examine the public conduct of officials.
(2) Meetings on private premises do not need prior authorization. Those held in public places are regulated by law.
Article 27  []
The right to petition any public official or State entity, either individually or collectively and the right to obtain prompt resolution are guaranteed.
Article 28  []
(1) No one may be disturbed or persecuted for the expression of his opinions or for any act which does not infringe the law.
(2) Private actions which do not harm the morals or public order, or which do not cause any damages to third parties are outside the scope of the law.
(3) However, clergymen or secular individuals cannot make political propaganda in any way invoking religious motives or making use of religious beliefs.
Article 29  []
Every person may communicate his thoughts verbally or in writing and publish them without previous censorship; but he is liable for any abuses committed in the exercise of this right, in such cases and in the manner established by law.
Article 30  []
(1) Free access to administrative departments for purposes of information on matters of public interest is guaranteed.
(2) State secrets are excluded from this provision.
Article 31  []
(1) The territory of Costa Rica is a shelter for all those persecuted for political reasons. If their expulsion is decreed on legal grounds, they can never be sent back to the country where they were persecuted.
(2) Extradition is regulated by law or by international treaties and is never granted in case of political or related offenses, as they are defined by Costa Rica.
Article 32  []
No Costa Rican may be compelled to abandon the national territory.
Article 33  []
All persons are equal before the law and there may be no discrimination against human dignity.
Article 34  []
No law has retroactive effects to the detriment of any person whatsoever or his acquired property rights, or to the detriment of any consolidated legal situations.
Article 35  []
No one may be tried by a commission, a court or a judge specially appointed for the case, but exclusively by the courts established in accordance with this Constitution.
Article 36  []
In criminal matters, no one is obligated to testify against himself or against a spouse, ascendants, descendants or collateral relatives within the third degree inclusive of consanguinity or affinity.
Article 37  []
No one may be detained without substantiated evidence of having committed an offense or without a written order issued by the judge or the authority in charge of maintaining public order, unless the person concerned is a fugitive from justice or is caught in the act; but in all cases, he must be placed at the disposition of a competent judge within a peremptory period of twenty-four hours.
Article 38  []
No person may be imprisoned for debt.
Article 39  []
(1) No one may be made to suffer a penalty except for crime, unintentional tort or misdemeanor punishable by previous law, and in virtue of final judgment entered by competent authority, after opportunity has been given to the defendant to plead his defense, and upon the necessary proof of guilt.
(2) Judicial compulsion in civil or labor matters or detentions ordered in cases of insolvency, bankruptcy or bankruptcy involuntary proceedings are not violations of this article or of the two preceding articles.
Article 40  []
No one may be subjected to cruel or degrading treatment or to life imprisonment, or to the penalty of confiscation. Any statement obtained by violent means is null and void.
Article 41  []
Everyone must receive reparation for injuries or damages to himself or his property, or moral interests, through recourse to the laws. Justice must be prompt, enforced, not denied, and in strict accordance with the laws.
Article 42  []
(1) The same judge may not serve in various stages of a case for resolutions addressing the same issue. No one may be tried more than once for the same punishable offense.
(2) Reopening of closed criminal cases and judgments which are res judicata is prohibited, except upon a motion to reopen the case for review.
Article 43  []
Everyone has the right to settle his differences in civil matters by means of arbitrators, even if there is a pending lawsuit.
Article 44  []
A court order is necessary for a person to be held incommunicado for more than forty-eight hours. It may be extended only for ten consecutive days, and in no case may it prevent judicial inspection.
Article 45  []
(1) Property is inviolable; no one may be deprived of his property except for legally proven public interest upon prior compensation in accordance with the law. In case of war or internal disorders, it is not necessary that such compensation be made in advance. However, payment must be made no later than two years after the situation of emergency has ended.
(2) For reasons of public necessity, the Legislative Assembly, by a vote of two-thirds of its full membership, may impose limitations of social interest on property.
Article 46  []
(1) Private monopolies, as well as any act, even if originated by virtue of law, which may threaten or restrict freedom of trade, agriculture or industry, are prohibited.
(2) Action by the State directed to prevent any monopolistic practices or tendencies is in the public interest.
(3) The companies organized as de facto monopolies are governed by special legislation.
(4) Establishment of new monopolies in favor of the State or the Municipal Governments requires the approval of two-thirds of the full membership of the Legislative Assembly.
(5) Consumers and users are entitled to the protection of their health, environment, safety and financial interests, to receive adequate and truthful information, to freedom of election and to equal treatment. The State supports any bodies established for the defense of their rights. The law regulates those matters.
Article 47  []
Every author, inventor, producer, or merchant temporarily enjoys exclusive ownership of his work, invention, trademark or trade name, in accordance with the law.
Article 48  []
Every person has the right to present writs of habeas corpus to guarantee his freedom and personal integrity and writs of amparo to maintain or reestablish the enjoyment of other rights conferred by this Constitution as well as those of fundamental nature established in international instruments on human rights, enforceable in the Republic. Both writs are within the jurisdiction of the Chamber indicated in Article 10.
Article 49  []
(1) A contentious-administrative jurisdiction is established as a function of the Judicial Branch for purposes of guaranteeing the legality of the administrative function of the State, its institutions and any other entity of public law.
(2) The misuse of power is grounds to challenge administrative acts.
(3) The law protects, at least, the personal rights and legitimate interests of those governed.

Title V  Social Rights and Guarantees

Article 50  []
(1) The State procures the greatest welfare of all inhabitants of the country, organizing and promoting production and the most adequate distribution of wealth.
(2) Every person has the right to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment, being therefore entitled to denounce any acts that may infringe said right and claim redress for the damage caused.
(3) The State guarantees, defends and preserves that right.
(4) The Law establishes the appropriate responsibilities and penalties.
Article 51  []
The family, as a natural element and foundation of society, is entitled to State protection. Mothers, children, the elderly and the destitute infirm are also entitled to such protection.
Article 52  []
Marriage is the essential basis of the family and rests on equality of the rights of spouses.
Article 53  []
(1) Parents have the same obligations toward children born out of wedlock that they have toward those born within it.
(2) Everyone is entitled to know who his parents are, in accordance with the law.
Article 54  []
Any personal qualification based on the nature of filiation is prohibited.
Article 55  []
The special protection of mothers and minors is entrusted to an autonomous institution named Patronato Nacional de la Infancia (National Infancy Fundation), with the collaboration of other State institutions.
Article 56  []
Labor is a right of the individual and an obligation to society. The State strives to see that everyone has lawful and useful employment, duly compensated, and prevents the establishment on that account of conditions which may in any way curtail human freedom or dignity or degrade his labor to the status of mere merchandise. The State guarantees the right to free choice of work.
Article 57  []
(1) Every worker is entitled to a minimum wage, to be fixed periodically, for a normal working day, which will provide for his welfare and a decent living. Wages must always be equal for equal work under identical conditions of efficiency.
(2) A technical organization to be defined by the law is in charge of all matters related to the fixing of minimum wages.
Article 58  []
A regular working day for daytime work may not exceed eight hours a day or forty-eight hours a week. The regular working day for night work may not exceed six hours a day or thirty-six hours a week. Overtime work must be paid at a rate of fifty percent above the stipulated wages or salaries. However, these provisions do not apply in well-defined exceptional cases, to be determined by law.
Article 59  []
All workers are entitled to one day of rest after six consecutive days of work and to annual paid vacations, the duration and time of which are regulated by law, but which may not be in any case less than two weeks for every fifty weeks of continuous service, all without prejudice to well-defined exceptions established by law.
Article 60  []
(1) Both employers and workers may organize freely, for the exclusive purpose of obtaining and preserving economic, social or professional benefits.
(2) Foreigners are prohibited from exercising direction or authority in unions.
Article 61  []
The right of employers to lockout and of workers to strike is recognized, except in public services, as they are determined by law and in accordance with the legal regulations on the subject, which prohibit all acts of coercion or violence.
Article 62  []
Collective labor agreements have force of law, if entered into by and between employers or employers' unions and legally organized trade unions, in accordance with the law.
Article 63  []
Workers removed without a fair cause are entitled to compensation unless they are covered by unemployment insurance.
Article 64  []
The State promotes the creation of cooperatives as a means to provide better living conditions for workers.
Article 65  []
The State promotes the construction of low-cost housing and creates a family homestead for workers.
Article 66  []
Every employer must adopt in his enterprises any measures necessary for the health and safety of workers.
Article 67  []
The State sees to the technical and cultural training for workers.
Article 68  []
(1) No discrimination may be made with regard to wages, advantages, or working conditions between Costa Ricans and foreigners, or with respect to any group of workers.
(2) Under equal conditions, Costa Rican workers receive preference.
Article 69  []
Rural sharecropper contracts are regulated in order to assure a rational exploitation of the land and the equitable distribution of its produce between proprietors and tenants.
Article 70  []
A labor jurisdiction is established under the Judicial Branch.
Article 71  []
The laws provide special protection to women and minors in their work.
Article 72  []
Until unemployment insurance is established, the State maintains a permanent technical system of protection for those involuntarily unemployed and strives to restore them to employment.
Article 73  []
(1) Social security is established for the benefit of manual and intellectual workers, regulated by a system of compulsory contributions by the State, employers and workers, to protect them against the risks of illness, disability, maternity, old age, death and other contingencies as determined by law.
(2) The administration and direction of social security is entrusted to an autonomous institution named Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (Costa Rican Social Security Administration).
(3) Social security funds and reserves may not be transferred or used for purposes other than those for which they were created.
(4) Occupational risk insurance is exclusively at the expense of employers, being governed by special provisions.
Article 74  []
The rights and benefits to which this Chapter refers may not be waived. Their enumeration does not exclude others that may be derived from the Christian principle of social justice or established by law. They are equally applicable to all the concurrent factors in the process of production and regulated by social and labor legislation, striving for a permanent policy of national solidarity.

Title VI  Religion

Article 75  []
The Roman Catholic and Apostolic Religion is the religion of the State, which contributes to its maintenance, without preventing the free exercise in the Republic of other forms of worship that are not opposed to universal morality or good customs.

Title VII  Education and Culture

Article 76  []
Spanish is the official language of the nation. However, the State watches over the preservation and fostering of the national indigenous languages.
Article 77  []
Public education is organized as a comprehensive process correlated in its various phases, from preschool to university education.
Article 78  []
(1) Preschool education and general basic education are compulsory. These levels and the diversified education level are, in the public system, free and supported by the Nation.
(2) Public expenditure in State education, including higher education, may not be less than six percent (6%) per annum of the gross domestic product, in accordance with the law, without detriment to the provisions of Articles 84 and 85 of this Constitution.
(3) The State facilitates the pursuit of higher studies by persons who lack monetary resources. The Ministry of Public Education, through the organization established by law, is in charge of awarding scholarships and assistance.
Article 79  []
Freedom of teaching is guaranteed. However, all private educational centers are under the supervision of the State.
Article 80  []
Private initiative in educational matters is encouraged by the State, in such form as provided by law.
Article 81  []
The general direction of public education administration is in the hands of a superior board comprised as the law may provide, presided over by the Minister of Public Education.
Article 82  []
The State provides food and clothing for indigent pupils, in accordance with the law.
Article 83  []
The State organizes and supports adult education, designed to combat illiteracy and to provide cultural opportunities for those who wish to improve their intellectual, social, and economic position.
Article 84  []
(1) The University of Costa Rica is a higher learning institution which enjoys independence in the performance of its functions and has full legal capacity to acquire rights and contract obligations, as well as to determine its own organization and form of government. Other state institutions of higher education learning at university level have the same functional independence and legal capacity that the University of Costa Rica has.
(2) The State endows them with funds of their own and cooperates in financing them.
Article 85  []
(1) The State endows the University of Costa Rica, the Technological Institute of Costa Rica, the National University and the State Remote Education University with their own funds, creating their own revenues for them in addition to those that they themselves may create. It also maintains, using the current revenues and any others as may be necessary, a special fund for the financing of State Higher Education.
(2) The Central Bank of Costa Rica manages this fund, making the proceeds available in twelfths on a monthly basis to the order of said institutions, in accordance with the distribution determined by the body in charge of the coordination of State Higher Education at university level. The revenues from this special fund cannot be abolished or reduced, if other improvements to replace them are not simultaneously created.
(3) The body in charge of the coordination of State Higher Education at university level prepares a national plan for this level of education, taking into account the guidelines established by the National Plan of Development in force.
(4) That plan must be completed no later than the thirtieth day of June in years divisible by five, covering the next five-year period. It includes the operating expenditures as well as the investment expenses as may be deemed necessary for a good performance of the institutions specified in this article.
(5) The Executive Branch includes in the ordinary budget of expenditure of the Republic the appropriate items specified in the plan, adjusted in accordance with the variations in the purchasing power of currency.
(6) Any difference which may arise with regard to the approval of the budgeted amount of the national plan of State Higher Education is resolved by the Legislative Assembly.
Article 86  []
The State provides for the training of professionals in Education, by means of special institutions of the University of Costa Rica and of the other institutions of higher education at university level.
Article 87  []
Freedom of teaching is a fundamental principle of university education.
Article 88  []
For discussion and enactment of bills of law concerning matters under the jurisdiction of the University of Costa Rica or other institutions of higher education at university level, or directly related thereto, the Legislative Assembly previously hears the University Council or the respective board of directors of each of them.
Article 89  []
The cultural aims of the Republic include: to protect its natural beauty, to preserve and develop the historic and artistic wealth of the Nation, and to support private initiative directed to scientific and artistic progress.

Title VIII  Political Rights and Duties


Chapter I  The Citizens

Article 90  []
Citizenship is the aggregate of political rights and duties pertaining to Costa Ricans over eighteen years of age.
Article 91  []
Citizenship is suspended only:
1) By judicially declared interdiction;
2) By a judgment imposing the penalty of suspension of the exercise of political rights.
Article 92  []
Citizenship is restored in such cases and by such means as the law may provide.

Chapter II  The Suffrage

Article 93  []
Suffrage is a primary and compulsory civic function and is exercised before Election Boards through direct and secret vote by the citizens registered in the Civil Registry.
Article 94  []
A naturalized Costa Rican citizen may not vote until twelve months after obtaining the respective certificate of naturalization.
Article 95  []
The law regulates the exercise of suffrage, in accordance with the following principles:
1. Autonomy in the electoral function;
2. The State duty to register citizens officially in the Civil Registry and provide them with an identity card to exercise suffrage;
3. Effective guarantees of freedom, order, integrity and impartiality on the part of government authorities;
4. Guarantees that the voting system does facilitate the exercise of this right to citizens;
5. Identification of the voter by means of an identity card with a photograph or any other adequate technical means established by law for this purpose;
6. Guarantees for representation of minorities;
7. Guarantees of political pluralism;
8. Guarantees for designation of authorities and candidates of political parties, in accordance with democratic principles and with no discrimination based on genre.
Article 96  []
(1) The State may not make any deductions from the compensation of public officials for payment of political debts.
(2) The State contributes to finance the expenses incurred by political parties, in accordance with the following provisions:
1. The contribution is zero point nineteen percent (0.19%) of the gross domestic product of two years before the holding of the elections for President, Vice Presidents of the Republic and members of the Legislative Assembly. The law determines the cases when a reduction of said percentage may be decided.
This percentage is allocated to cover the expenses incurred for the participation of political parties in these electoral processes and to satisfy the political organization and training needs. Each political party fixes the percentages corresponding to these items.
2. The political parties that participate in the electoral processes indicated in this article and reach at least four percent (4%) of the votes validly cast at national level, or the parties registered at provincial level that obtain at least said percentage in the province or do elect at least a member to the Legislative Assembly are entitled to State contribution.
3. Upon deposit of the appropriate bonds, the political parties are entitled to a partial advance of the State contribution, as determined by law.
4. In order to receive support from the State, parties are required to demonstrate their expenses before the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.
Private contributions to political parties are subject to the principle of publicity and are regulated by law.
The enactment and amendment of the law that establishes the procedures, control means and other regulations for enforcement of this article requires the vote of two thirds of the membership of the Legislative Assembly.
Article 97  []
(1) For purposes of discussion and enactment of bills of law concerning electoral matters, the Legislative Assembly consults the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, requiring the vote of two thirds of the total membership to deviate from such opinion.
(2) However, within six months prior to and four months after a popular election is held, the Legislative Assembly may not enact any law based on bills concerning matters about which the Supreme Electoral Tribunal had expressed disagreement.
Article 98  []
(1) All citizens have the right to organize themselves in parties in order to participate in national politics, provided that such parties are committed in their platforms to respect the constitutional order of the Republic.
(2) Political parties express the political pluralism, contribute to the formation and manifestation of popular will and are fundamental instruments for political participation. Their creation and the exercise of their activities is free within respect to the Constitution and the law. Their internal structure and operation must be democratic.

Chapter III  The Supreme Electoral Tribunal

Article 99  []
The organization, direction, and supervision of acts pertaining to suffrage are the exclusive function of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which does enjoy independence in the performance of its duties. All other electoral organs are subordinate to the Tribunal.
Article 100  []
(1) The Supreme Electoral Tribunal is ordinarily composed of three regular members and six alternates, appointed by the Supreme Court of Justice by a vote of no less than two thirds of its members. They must have the same qualifications and be subject to the same responsibilities established for the justices that compose the Supreme Court.
(2) From one year prior to and six months after the holding of general elections to elect the President of the Republic or the members of the Legislative Assembly, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal increases the number of its members with two of its alternates in order to become a tribunal of five members to serve during that period of time.
(3) When applicable, the members of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal are subject to the working conditions and the minimum working day established by the Structural Law of the Judicial Branch for justices of the Appellate Chamber. They also receive the same compensation fixed for those justices.
Article 101  []
(1) The members of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal hold office for a term of six years. The term in office of one regular member and two alternates is renewed every two years, but they may be reelected.
(2) The justices of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal enjoy the same immunities and prerogatives that members of the Supreme Branches have.
Article 102  []
The Supreme Electoral Tribunal has the following functions:
1) To convoke popular elections;
2) To appoint the members of the Electoral Boards, in accordance with the law;
3) To interpret, with exclusive and compulsory effect, all constitutional and legal provisions on electoral matters;
4) To hear the appeals against resolutions issued by the Civil Registry and the Electoral Boards;
5) To investigate on its own or through delegates and render decisions on any claims made by parties as to political partiality of State officials in the performance of their duties or about the political activities conducted by officials who are prohibited to engage in them. A verdict of guilty rendered by the Tribunal is compulsory grounds for removal and disqualifies the wrongdoer to hold public offices for a term of no less than two years, without prejudice of any criminal liability that may be established. However, if the investigation conducted includes charges against the President of the Republic, Cabinet Ministers, Diplomatic Ministers, the Comptroller General or the Assistant Comptroller of the Republic, or the justices of the Supreme Court, the Tribunal reports the findings of its investigation to the Legislative Assembly;
6) To adopt, with respect to the public force, pertinent measures to assure that the elections are carried out under conditions of unrestricted freedom and guarantees. In case that military recruitment is ordered, the Tribunal may also adopt suitable measures to assure that the electoral process may not be disturbed, in order that all citizens may freely cast their votes. The Tribunal may enforce these measures on its own or through its designated delegates;
7) To conduct the official count of the votes cast in the elections for President and Vice Presidents of the Republic, members of the Legislative Assembly, members of Municipal Governments and Representatives to Constitutional Assemblies;
8) To issue the official declaration of the election of the President and Vice Presidents of the Republic within thirty days following the date of the election, and that of the other officials mentioned in the foregoing subsection within the period established by law;
9) To organize, manage, supervise, control, and publish the results of the referendum. No more than one referendum per year may be scheduled, nor may one be scheduled within six months before or after presidential elections. Results are binding on the State if, in the case of regular legislation, at least thirty percent (30%) of registered voters participate, or, in the case of constitutional amendments or matters requiring a qualified majority, at least fourty percent (40%) participate;
10) Any other functions entrusted to it by this Constitution or by the laws.
Article 103  []
There is no appeal against the decisions of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, except for actions on the grounds of breach of public duty.
Article 104  []
The Civil Registry is exclusively under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, and its functions are:
1) To keep the Main Register of Marital Status and prepare the lists of voters;
2) To decide on applications to acquire or recover Costa Rican citizenship, as well as cases of loss of nationality; to enforce Court resolutions suspending citizenship and to issue a resolution on proceedings conducted to recover it. The decisions rendered by the Civil Registry, in accordance with the powers vested upon it by this subsection, may be appealed to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal;
3) To issue identity cards;
4) Any other powers vested in it by this Constitution and the laws.

Title IX  The Legislative Branch


Chapter I  Organization of the Legislative Assembly

Article 105  []
(1) The power to legislate resides in the people, which delegate this power, by means of suffrage, to the Legislative Assembly. Such a power may not be waived or subject to limitations by any agreement or contract, either directly or indirectly, except in the case of treaties, in accordance with the principles of International Law.
(2) This power can be used by the people in a public referendum, in order to confirm or deny laws or constitutional amendments, on the request of at least five percent (5%) of registered voters, or of two thirds of the total membership of the Legislative Assembly, or of the Executive Branch together with the absolute majority of the total membership of the Legislative Assembly.
(3) No referendum may be applied on issues of the state budget, duties, taxes, monitary affairs, credits, rents, security, assent to loans and contracts, or acts of administrative nature.
(4) This instrument is regulated by a law requiring the assent of two thirds of the total membership of the Legislative Assembly.
Article 106  []
(1) The representatives have that character for the Nation and are elected by provinces.
(2) The Assembly is composed of fifty-seven representatives. Every time that a general census of the population is conducted, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal allocates to the provinces a number of representatives in proportion to their population.
Article 107  []
Representatives hold office for four years and may not be reelected to a succeeding term.
Article 108  []
The requirements to become a representative are:
1) To be a citizen in the exercise of his rights;
2) To be a Costa Rican by birth, or by naturalization with ten years of residence in the country after naturalization;
3) To be at least twenty-one years old.
Article 109  []
(1) The following may not be elected representatives or registered as candidates for that office:
1) The President of the Republic or anyone acting as such at the time of the election;
2) Cabinet Ministers;
3) The regular Justices of the Supreme Court of Justice;
4) The regular members and alternates of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, and the Director of the Civil Registry Office;
5) The military in active service;
6) Those having jurisdiction or exercising civil or police authority over any province;
7) Managers of autonomous institutions;
8) Relatives of the person who is then holding office as President of the Republic, to the second degree of consanguinity or affinity inclusive.
(2) These incompatibilities affect anyone holding the aforesaid positions within six months prior to the date of the election.
Article 110  []
(1) A representative is not liable for any opinions expressed at the Assembly. During legislative sessions, he cannot be arrested on civil grounds, except by authorization of the Assembly or with the consent of the representative.
(2) From the time he is declared elected as representative or as an alternate representative, until expiration of his legal term in office, he may not be deprived of his freedom on criminal grounds, unless he has been previously suspended by the Assembly. Such immunity does not apply in case of flagrante delicto or when the representative waives it. Nevertheless, a representative who has been arrested for flagrante delicto will be released if the Assembly so orders.
Article 111  []
(1) After taking the oath of office, no representative may accept any position or employment with other State Branches or autonomous institutions, under penalty of losing his credentials, except as a Cabinet Minister. In this case, he is reinstated in the Assembly when he is no longer in such position.
(2) This prohibition does not apply to those appointed as members of international delegations or holding positions in charitable institutions, or who are professors of the University of Costa Rica or other State institutions of higher education.
Article 112  []
(1) The legislative function is also incompatible with the holding of any other public office of popular election.
(2) Representatives may not enter into any contract with the State or its autonomous institutions, directly or indirectly or through representation, or obtain any concession of public property that may involve a privilege, or serve as directors, administrators or managers of enterprises which enter into contracts with the State for public works, furnishing of supplies, or operation of public utilities.
(3) Violation of any of the prohibitions contained in this or the foregoing article results in the loss of the credentials as representative. The same occurs to the representative who violates any of these provisions while serving as a Cabinet Minister.
Article 113  []
The law fixes the compensation of representatives as well as any technical and administrative assistance to be given to them.
Article 114  []
The Assembly is based at the capital of the Republic and the vote of two thirds of the whole membership is required to transfer its seat somewhere else or to suspend its sessions for a specific period.
Article 115  []
The Assembly elects its Directorate at the beginning of each legislative period. The President and the Vice President must fulfill the same conditions required to be President of the Republic. The President of the Assembly takes an oath before the Assembly and the representatives before the President.
Article 116  []
(1) The Legislative Assembly meets each year on the first day of May, even if it has not been convoked, and its regular-session term lasts six months, divided into two periods: from the first day of May to the thirty-first day of July and from the first day of September to the thirtieth day of November.
(2) One Legislative Period includes all regular and extraordinary sessions held between the first day of May and the next thirtieth day of April.
Article 117  []
(1) The Assembly may not hold its sessions unless they are attended by two thirds of the total membership.
(2) If it is impossible to initiate a session on the scheduled day, or if after opening it, it cannot continue due to lack of a quorum, the attending members present must urge the absent members to attend, under penalty of the sanctions established by the Regulations, for their attendance, and the Assembly opens or continues its sessions when attended by the required number of members.
(3) Sessions are public, unless for very special reasons of general convenience, it is resolved to make them secret by vote of not less than two-thirds of the attending representatives.
Article 118  []
The Executive Branch may convoke the Legislative Assembly to extraordinary sessions. No issues other than those stated in the decree of convocation may be discussed, except for the appointment of officials when incumbent upon the Assembly or any legal amendments that may be essential to act upon issues submitted to its consideration.
Article 119  []
The resolutions of the Assembly are adopted by the absolute majority vote of the attending representatives, except in those cases in which this Constitution requires a qualified majority.
Article 120  []
The Executive Branch places at the disposal of the Legislative Assembly such police force as the President of the Assembly may request.

Chapter II  Powers of the Legislative Assembly

Article 121  []
In addition to other powers vested in it by this Constitution, the Legislative Assembly has exclusive powers to:
1) Enact, amend, repeal and give an authentic interpretation to the laws, except as otherwise provided in the chapter referring to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal;
2) Designate the premises to be used for its sessions, open and close the sessions and suspend or continue them when so is decided by the Assembly:
3) Appoint the regular and alternate justices of the Supreme Court of Justice;
4) Approve or disapprove international conventions, public treaties and concordats.
Public treaties and international conventions which confer or transfer certain powers to a community legal order for the purpose of achieving common regional objectives require the approval of the Legislative Assembly by a vote of not less than two-thirds of its entire membership.
Lesser-rank protocols derived from public treaties or international conventions approved by the Assembly when these instruments expressly authorize such Protocols do not require the legislative approval.
5) Give or withhold its consent to the entrance of foreign troops into the national territory and for the stay of warships at ports or airfields;
6) Authorize the Executive Branch to declare a state of national defense and to reach peace agreements;
7) Suspend, by vote of no less than two thirds of its entire membership, in case of clear public need, the individual rights and guarantees conferred by Articles 22, 23, 24, 26, 28, 29, 30 and 37 of this Constitution. This suspension may include all or certain rights and guarantees, throughout the territory or only in a part of it, and for no more than thirty days. During the suspension and with respect to persons, the Executive Branch may order their detention only in establishments not used for common criminals, or may order their confinement to inhabited places. It must also report to the Legislative Assembly, at its next meeting, any measures taken to safeguard public order or maintain the security of the State.
In no case may individual rights and guarantees not listed in this subsection be suspended;
8) Take the legal oath and receive the resignation of members of the Supreme Branches, with the exception of Cabinet Ministers; settle any doubts that may arise as to the lack of physical or mental capacity of the person exercising the Presidency of the Republic, and decide whether to call in his legal substitute to take office;
9) Admit or refuse any impeachment made against the person exercising the Presidency of the Republic, the Vice Presidents, members of the Supreme Branches and Diplomatic Ministers, declaring by a vote of two thirds of the entire Assembly whether or not there are grounds for legal action against them, placing them, if there are, at the disposition of the Supreme Court of Justice for prosecution thereof;
10) Order the suspension of any officials mentioned in the preceding subsection, if they are to be prosecuted for common crimes;
11) Fix the regular and extraordinary budgets of the Republic;
12) Appoint the Comptroller General and the Assistant Comptroller General of the Republic;
13) Impose taxes and national contributions and authorize Municipal taxes;
14) Order the disposal or the application to public use of property that belongs to the Nation.
The following property may not be permanently removed from State ownership:
a) Any power that may be obtained from public waters within the national territory;
b) Deposits of coal, wells and deposits of oil and any other hydrocarbons, as well as any deposits of radioactive minerals existing within the national territory;
c) Wireless services;
Property mentioned in subsections a), b), and c) above may be exploited only by the public administration or by private parties, in accordance with the law or under a special concession granted for a limited time and on the basis of conditions and stipulations to be established by the Legislative Assembly.
National railroads, docks, and airports -- the latter while in use -- may not be sold, leased or encumbered, directly or indirectly, or be otherwise removed from State ownership and control.
15) Approve or disapprove loans or similar agreements affecting public credit, entered into by the Executive Branch.
In order to subscribe agreements for loans abroad, or within the country but financed with foreign capital, it is necessary that the respective project is approved by the vote of two thirds of the entire membership of the Legislative Assembly.
16) Bestow honorary citizenship for distinguished services rendered to the Republic and decree honors to the memory of persons whose eminent activities may have made them worthy of such a distinction.
17) Determine the law of the unit of currency and enact laws on currency, credit, weights and measures. For the purpose of determining the law of the unit of currency, the Assembly previously hears the opinion of the technical body in charge of monetary regulation.
18) Promote the progress of sciences and arts and ensure to authors and inventors, for a limited time, ownership of their respective works or inventions.
19) Create establishments for teaching and advancement of sciences and arts, allocating revenues for their support and endeavoring particularly to make elementary education general.
20) Create the Courts of Justice and other entities for the national service.
21) By a vote of no less than two thirds of the entire membership, grant general amnesties and pardons for political crimes, except electoral offenses, for which there may be no mercy;
22) Adopt Regulations for its own functioning, which, after being adopted may not be amended, except by a vote of no less than two thirds of the entire membership;
23) Appoint commissions from within its membership to investigate any matter entrusted to them by the Assembly and submit the appropriate report.
Such Commissions have free access to all official agencies to conduct their investigations and collect any data they may deem necessary. They may receive any kind of evidence and summon before them any person for purposes of interrogation;
24) Formulate questions to Cabinet Ministers and, in addition, by a vote of two thirds of the attending representatives, censure such officials if, in the opinion of the Assembly, they are guilty of illegal or unconstitutional acts or serious errors that have caused or may cause evident damages to the public interest.
Matters under diplomatic negotiation or concerning pending military operations are excepted in both cases.
Article 122  []
The Assembly is prohibited to give votes of applause for official acts, or to recognize at the expense of the Public Treasury obligations which have not been previously declared as such by the Judicial Branch or accepted by the Executive Branch; or to grant scholarships, pensions, retirement annuities or rewards.

Chapter III  Enactment of Laws

Article 123  []
(1) During regular sessions, the initiative for enactment of laws can be taken by any member of the Legislative Assembly, by the Executive Branch through the Cabinet Ministers or by at least five percent (5%) of the registered voters in the case of a public initiative.
(2) No public initiative is available for issues of the state budget, duties, taxes, assent to loans and contracts, or of acts of administrative nature.
(3) Public initiatives to adopt laws must definitively be brought to the vote within the time determined by law, provided that initiatives for constitutional amendment are following the procedure outlined in Article 195 of this Constitution.
(4) A special law about public initatives to adopt laws, requiring the assent of two thirds of the total membership of the Legislative Assembly, determines the form, conditions, and other requirements.
Article 124  []
(1) In order to become a law, every bill of law must be the subject matter of two debates, each on a different non-consecutive day, obtain the approval of the Assembly and the sanction of the Executive Branch, and be published in the Official Journal, without prejudice of the requirements established by this Constitution for special cases as well as those determined by public initiative or referendum according to Articles 102, 105, 123, and 129 of this Constitution. Action taken exercising the powers listed in sections 2), 3), 5), 6), 7), 8), 9), 10), 12), 16), 21), 22), 23), and 24) of Article 121 as well as the legislative act scheduling a referendum do not have the status of laws, and therefore do not require the foregoing procedure; they must be voted at a single session and then be published in the Official Journal.
(2) The Legislative Assembly can delegate upon permanent commissions the cognizance and passing of bills of law. However, the Assembly can remove from them at any time the debate or the vote of bills of law subject matter of delegation.
(3) Delegation does not proceed in the case of bills of law concerning electoral matters, the creation of national taxes or the modification of existing taxes, the exercise of the powers foreseen in sections 4), 11), 14), 15) and 17) of Article 121 of the Political Constitution, the calling of a Constitutional Assembly for any purpose, and a partial amendment to the Political Constitution.
(4) The Assembly appoints said permanent commissions with full legislative powers, in such way that their composition may reflect on a proportional basis the number of representatives of the constituent political parties. Delegation must be approved by a majority of two thirds of the total membership of the Assembly and the removal, by absolute majority of the attending representatives.
(5) The Regulations of the Assembly regulate the number of these commissions and other conditions for delegation and removal, as well as the procedures to be applied in these cases.
(6) Legislative approval of contracts, agreements and other acts of an administrative nature does not vest in such acts the character of laws even if such approval is given through the regular procedure for enactment of laws.
Article 125  []
If the Executive Branch does not approve a bill of law passed by the Assembly, it vetoes it and returns it with pertinent objections. A veto may not be used for the bill of law that contains the Regular Budget of the Republic.
Article 126  []
Within ten business days following the date on which a bill of law passed by the Legislative Assembly is received, the Executive Branch may object to it as inappropriate or in need of amendments; in the latter case, the Executive Branch proposes such amendments when returning the bill of law. If the Executive Branch does not object to a bill of law within said term, it approves and publishes it.
Article 127  []
When a bill of law is reconsidered by the Assembly with the observations of the Executive Branch, if the Assembly rejects them and the bill of law is again passed by a vote of two thirds of the total membership, it is thereby sanctioned and must be enforced as a law of the Republic. If the proposed amendments are adopted, the bill of law is returned to the Executive Branch, which may not refuse to sanction it. If they are rejected, and the bill of law is not approved by a vote of two thirds, it is filed and may not be considered until the next legislative period.
Article 128  []
(1) If the veto is based on grounds of unconstitutionality not accepted by the Assembly, it submits the bill to the Chamber indicated in Article 10 to decide upon the issue within the following thirty calendar days following receipt of the record.
(2) The provisions declared to be unconstitutional are considered rejected and the others are submitted to the Assembly for the appropriate proceedings. The same is done with a bill of law passed by the Legislative Assembly, when the Chamber rules that it does not contain unconstitutional provisions.
Article 129  []
(1) Laws are compulsory and effective from the date therein designated; if this requirement is missing, ten days after publication thereof in the Official Journal.
(2) No one may claim ignorance of the law, except when authorized by the law itself.
(3) Waiver of laws in general or any special waiver of laws of public interest are not effective.
(4) Acts and agreements against prohibitive laws are null and void, unless otherwise provided by the law itself.
(5) A law may not be abrogated or repealed except by a subsequent law, and no disuse, custom, or opposite practice can be claimed against its enforcement. It can be abolished by referendum of the people according to Article 105 of this Constitution.

Title X  The Executive Branch


Chapter I  The President and the Vice President of the Republic

Article 130  []
The Executive Power is exercised, on behalf of the people, by the President of the Republic and the Cabinet Ministers in the capacity of subordinate collaborators.
Article 131  []
To be President or Vice President of the Republic, it is required to be:
1) A Costa Rican by birth and a citizen in the exercise of his or her rights;
2) A layman or a laywoman;
3) Over thirty years old.
Article 132  []
(1) The following may not be elected President or Vice President:
1) A President who has, during any time preceding the current electoral period by eight years, held the office, or a Vice President or whoever replaced him who has held office during most of a term within this eight year period.
2) A Vice President who has held such status during the twelve months preceding the election, and any person who, acting as such, may have occupied the Presidency for any period during such term;
3) Any ancestor or descendant by consanguinity or affinity or sibling of the person occupying the Presidency of the Republic at the time of the election, or of any person who has held such office for any period during the six months preceding that date;
4) Anyone who has been a Cabinet Minister during the twelve months prior to the date of the election;
5) The regular Justices of the Supreme Court of Justice, the regular and alternate Justices of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the Director of the Civil Registry, the Directors or Managers of autonomous institutions, the Comptroller General of the Republic and the Assistant Comptroller.
(2) This disqualification includes persons who have held said positions within twelve months before the date of the elections.
Article 133  []
The election for President and Vice Presidents is held on the first Sunday of February of the year in which these officials are to be elected.
Article 134  []
The presidential term is four years. The actions of public officials and private individuals that violate the principle of alternation in the Presidential office or of free presidential succession, as set forth in this Constitution, will imply treason to the Republic. The liability derived from such actions may not be subject to any statute of limitations.
Article 135  []
(1) There are two Vice Presidents of the Republic, who replace the President during his permanent absence, in the order of their nomination. During his temporary absence, the President may call upon either Vice President to replace him.
(2) If neither Vice President can fill the temporary or permanent absence of the President, the position is held by the President of the Legislative Assembly.
Article 136  []
The President and the Vice Presidents of the Republic take office on the eighth day of May; and upon completion of their constitutional term in office, their functions cease.
Article 137  []
The President and the Vice Presidents take an oath before the Legislative Assembly; but if they cannot do it before the Assembly, they do so before the Supreme Court of Justice.
Article 138  []
(1) The President and Vice Presidents are elected simultaneously and by a majority vote that exceeds forty percent of the total number of validly cast votes.
(2) The candidates for President and Vice Presidents of one party must appear in a single ticket, to the exclusion of any other official to be elected.
(3) If none of the tickets attains said majority, a second popular election is held on the first Sunday of April of the same year between the two tickets that received the highest number of votes, being elected the one that obtains more votes in the second election.
(4) If at any election two tickets obtain an equal number of sufficient votes, the oldest candidate is considered elected as President, and the Vice Presidents are the candidates in the same ticket.
(5) Citizens included in a ticket already registered in accordance with the law may not withdraw their candidacy for President or Vice President, nor may candidates of the tickets that received the highest number of votes in a first election refrain from running in the second election.

Chapter II  Powers and Duties of the Executive Branch

Article 139  []
The following are the exclusive powers and duties of the occupant of the Presidency of the Republic:
1) To freely appoint and remove Cabinet Ministers;
2) To represent the Nation in acts of an official nature;
3) To hold the supreme command of the law enforcement forces;
4) To present to the Legislative Assembly, at the beginning of each annual period of sessions, a written message concerning the various matters of the Administration and the political situation of the Republic, in which he also proposes any measures he may deem important to the proper conduct of the Government and the progress and wellbeing of the nation;
5) Whenever he proposes to go out of the country, to previously inform the motives of his trip to the Legislative Assembly.
Article 140  []
The following are joint powers and duties of the President and the appropriate Cabinet Minister:
1) To freely appoint and remove members of the law enforcement forces, employees and officials who hold positions of trust, and others as determined in very qualified cases by the Civil Service Law;
2) To appoint and remove, subject to the prior requirements of the Civil Service Law, all other employees of their offices;
3) To sanction and enact the laws, regulate and enforce them and see to their strict compliance;
4) During the period of adjournment of the Legislative Assembly, to order the suspension of the rights and guarantees to which subsection 7) of Article 121 refers, in the same instances and with the same limitations as established therein, and to report it immediately to the Assembly. A decree of suspension of guarantees is equivalent, ipso facto, to a call of the Assembly, which must meet within the next forty-eight hours. If the Assembly does not confirm the measure by a two-thirds vote of its entire membership, the guarantees are considered duly reestablished.
If the Assembly is unable to meet due to lack of quorum, it does so the following day with any number of members. In this event, the decree of the Executive Branch requires the approval by a vote of no less than two thirds of the attending members;
5) To exercise the initiative in the enactment of laws and the right of veto;
6) To maintain order and tranquillity in the Nation; to take such measures as may be necessary to safeguard public liberties;
7) To provide for the collection and expenditure of the national revenues according to law;
8) To supervise the proper operation of administrative services and agencies;
9) To execute and enforce all resolutions and provisions on matters within their jurisdiction entered and issued by the Courts of Justice and electoral organizations, at their request;
10) To enter into and subscribe agreements, public treaties and concordats, and enact and execute them following their approval by the Legislative Assembly or by a Constitutional Assembly, when such an approval is required by this Constitution.
Protocols derived from such public treaties or international agreements that do not require legislative approval enter into force as soon as they are promulgated by the Executive Branch.
11) To submit to the Legislative Assembly such reports as it may request in exercise of the powers vested in it;
12) To direct the international relations of the Republic;
13) To receive Heads of State and diplomatic representatives and admit the Consuls from other nations;
14) To convoke the Legislative Assembly for regular and extraordinary sessions;
15) To send to the Legislative Assembly the proposed National Budget at the time and in accordance with the requirements set forth in this Constitution;
16) To dispose of the law enforcement forces to preserve the order, defense, and security of the country;
17. To issue navigation licenses;
18) To issue suitable Regulations for the internal operation of their offices as well as other regulations and ordinances as required for the prompt application of the laws;
19) To subscribe the administrative contracts not included in subsection 14) of Article 121 of this Constitution, but with the requirement of submitting them to the approval of the Legislative Assembly when they provide for exemption from taxes or duties, or when their purpose is the exploitation of public services, or the natural wealth or resources of the State.
The legislative approval of these contracts does not give them the nature of laws nor does it exempt them from being under their legal administrative regime. The provisions contained in this subsection are not applicable to the loans or other similar agreements to which subsection 15) of Article 121 refers, which are governed by their special rules.
20) To comply with any other duties and exercise any other powers vested in them by this Constitution and the laws.

Chapter III  Cabinet Ministers

Article 141  []
There are the Cabinet Ministers established by law for the management of the matters pertaining to the Executive Branch. One Minister may be in charge of two or more Ministries.
Article 142  []
In order to be a Minister, it is required to:
1) Be a citizen in the exercise of his or her rights;
2) Be a Costa Rican by birth, or else by naturalization with ten years' residence in the country after naturalization;
3) Be a layman or a laywoman;
4) Be at least twenty-five years old.
Article 143  []
(1) The office of Minister is not compatible with the exercise of any other public position, by popular election or otherwise, except when special laws establish additional duties for them. The rules, prohibitions and sanctions set forth in Articles 110, 111, and 112 of this Constitution are applicable to Ministers when appropriate.
(2) Vice Presidents of the Republic may hold office as Ministers.
Article 144  []
Cabinet Ministers submit to the Legislative Assembly every year, within the first fifteen days of the first period of regular sessions, a report on matters that concern their Ministries.
Article 145  []
The Cabinet Ministers may attend sessions of the Legislative Assembly at any time, with the right to speak but not to vote, and are required to do so when ordered by the Assembly.
Article 146  []
(1) The decrees, resolutions and orders of the Executive Branch require the signatures of the President of the Republic and the appropriate Minister in order to be valid, and in addition, in those cases set forth by this Constitution, the approval of the Government Council.
(2) The signature of the President of the Republic is sufficient for appointment and removal of Ministers.

Chapter IV  The Government Council

Article 147  []
The Government Council is composed of the President of the Republic and the Ministers, being presided over by the former, to perform the following functions:
1) To request from the Legislative Assembly a declaration of a state of national defense and authorization to order military recruitment, organize the army and negotiate peace;
2) To exercise the right of pardon in the manner established by law;
3) To appoint and remove the Diplomatic Representatives of the Republic;
4) To appoint the directors of autonomous institutions when such appointments are a duty of the Executive Branch;
5) To take care of any other matters submitted by the President of the Republic who, if the gravity of any matter so requires, may invite other persons to participate in the deliberations of the Council in a consultative position.

Chapter V  Responsibility of the Persons Exercising the Executive Power

Article 148  []
The President of the Republic is responsible for his exercise of those powers vested exclusively to him under this Constitution. Each Cabinet Minister is jointly responsible with the President for the exercise of powers that this Constitution vests in both. The responsibility for the acts of the Government Council extends to all those who voted to adopt the resolution in question.
Article 149  []
The President of the Republic and any Cabinet Minister who have been involved in any of the acts listed below, are also jointly responsible:
1) If these acts in any way compromise the freedom, the political independence or the territorial integrity of the Republic;
2) If they directly or indirectly prevent or hinder popular elections or violate the principles of alternation in the office of the Presidency or of free presidential succession, or the freedom, order or purity of suffrage;
3) If they prevent or hinder the functions of the Legislative Assembly or restrict its freedom and independence;
4) If they refuse to publish or execute the laws or any other legislative acts;
5) If they prevent or hinder the functions of the Judicial Branch or restrict the freedom of the Courts to judge cases submitted to their decision, or if they in any way hinder the functions of electoral bodies or the Municipal Governments;
6) In any other case in which by action or omission may the Executive Branch violate a specific law.
Article 150  []
The responsibility of the occupant of the Presidency of the Republic and of Cabinet Ministers for facts not involving any crime may be claimed only while they are in office and for four years after their functions cease.
Article 151  []
The President, the Vice Presidents of the Republic or whoever is occupying the Presidency, may not be prosecuted or tried except when, after impeachment proceedings, the Legislative Assembly declares that there are grounds for initiating criminal proceedings.

Title XI  The Judicial Branch

Article 152  []
The judicial power is exercised by the Supreme Court of Justice and by other courts established by law.
Article 153  []
In addition to the functions vested in it by this Constitution, the Judicial Branch hears civil, criminal, commercial, labor, and administrative-litigation cases, as well as any others established by law, regardless of their nature or the status of the persons involved; enters final resolutions thereon and executes the judgments entered, with the assistance of law enforcement forces, if necessary.
Article 154  []
The Judicial Branch is subject only to the Constitution and the law, and the decisions entered by it on matters within its competence impose no responsibilities other than those specifically set forth in legislation.
Article 155  []
No court may take over cognizance of cases pending in another court. Only the courts of the Judicial Branch may request Court files ad effectum vivendi.
Article 156  []
The Supreme Court of Justice is the highest court of the Judicial Branch, and all courts, officials and employees of the Judicial Branch are subordinate to it, without prejudice of any provisions of this Constitution concerning civil service.
Article 157  []
(1) The Supreme Court of Justice is composed of the number of Justices that may be considered necessary for a good service; they are elected by the Legislative Assembly, which makes up the different Court Chambers established by law.
(2) A reduction in the number of Justices, whatever this may be, can only be decided in accordance with all procedures established for partial amendments to this Constitution.
Article 158  []
(1) The Justices of the Supreme Court of Justice are elected for eight years and by a vote of two thirds of the entire membership of the Legislative Assembly. They must act with efficiency in the performance of their functions and are considered as reelected for equal terms, unless otherwise decided by the Legislative Assembly by a vote of two thirds of its entire membership.
(2) Vacancies are filled to complete the full eight year terms.
Article 159  []
(1) The following is required to be a Justice:
1) To be a Costa Rican by birth, or by naturalization, with residence in the country for no less than ten years after obtaining the appropriate naturalization certificate.
However, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court must be a Costa Rican by birth;
2) To be a citizen in the exercise of his rights;
3) To be a layman;
4) To be over thirty-five years of age;
5) To have a degree in Law issued or legally recognized in Costa Rica and to have practiced the profession for at least ten years, except in the case of judicial officials with not less than five years of judicial experience.
(2) Before taking office, Justices provide an official bond as provided by law.
Article 160  []
No person related to a member of the Supreme Court of Justice by consanguinity or affinity to the third degree inclusive may be elected Justice.
Article 161  []
The position of Justice is incompatible with that of any official of the other Supreme Branches.
Article 162  []
The Supreme Court of Justice appoints its Chief Justice from the list of Justices who compose it. It also appoints the Chief Justices of the various chambers in the manner and for the term as provided by law.
Article 163  []
The election of the justices of the Supreme Court of Justice is held and the replacement is decided within thirty calendar days after the expiration of the respective term or the date on which notice of a vacany is received.
Article 164  []
The Legislative Assembly appoints no less than twenty-five alternate Justices, selected from a list of fifty candidates submitted by the Supreme Court of Justice. Temporary absences of Justices are filled by lot by the Supreme Court from the list of alternates. If there is a vacancy among the alternate Justices, one of two candidates proposed by the Supreme Court must be elected at the first regular or special session of the Legislative Assembly after receipt of the appropriate notice. The law specifies the term of office and the conditions, restrictions, and prohibitions established for regular Justices, which are not applicable to alternates.
Article 165  []
Justices of the Supreme Court of Justice may not be suspended, but upon declaration that there is a reason to institute proceedings or for other reasons established by law in the appropriate chapter concerning disciplinary measures. In the latter case, the resolution is adopted by the Supreme Court of Justice, doing so by secret vote of no less than two thirds of its full membership.
Article 166  []
Where not foreseen in this Constitution, the law specifies the jurisdiction, number, and duration of courts, as well as their powers, the principles on which they base their actions and the manner in which they may be held responsible.
Article 167  []
For discussion and passage of bills of law concerning the organization or functioning of the Judicial Branch, the Legislative Assembly consults the Supreme Court of Justice. It requires a vote of two-thirds of the entire membership of the Assembly to depart from the views of the Court.

Title XII  Municipal Government

Article 168  []
(1) For purposes of the Public Administration, the national territory is divided into provinces. They are divided into cantons and the cantons into districts. The law may establish special circumscriptions.
(2) The Legislative Assembly, by observing the procedures required for a partial amendment of this Constitution, may create new provinces, provided that the appropriate proposal be previously approved by a plebiscite which the Assembly orders to be held in the province or provinces which are to be divided.
(3) The creation of new cantons is approved by the Legislative Assembly by a vote of no less than two thirds of the entire membership.
Article 169  []
The administration of local interests and services in each canton is entrusted to the Municipal Government, consisting in a deliberative body composed of municipal council members designated by popular election and an executive official to be designated by law.
Article 170  []
(1) The municipal entities are autonomous. Within the regular budget of the republic, the entirety of municipalities of the country receives a total sum of at least ten percent (10%) of the regular revenues, based on the respective economic year.
(2) Statutory law determines the competencies assigned to the municipalities by the government and the distribution of funds.
Article 171  []
(1) Municipal council members are elected for a term of four years and they hold office compulsorily.
(2) The law specifies the number of municipal council members and the manner in which they serve.
(3) However, the Municipal Governments of the central cantons of provinces consist of no less than five regular council members and a like number of alternates.
(4) The Municipal Governments are installed on the first day of May of the appropriate year.
Article 172  []
(1) Each district is represented in the municipality of the respective canton by a regular representative and an alternate, entitled to speak but not to vote.
(2) For the administration of interests and services within the districts of a canton, municipalities may, in specific cases, institute district councils operating as autonomous entities for the municipality and elected by the same procedures applicable for the elections constituting the municipalities. A special law about the district councils, adopted by two thirds of the entire membership of the Legislative Assembly, determines the special conditions for their constitution as well as their structure, functions and finances.
Article 173  []
(1) Municipal ordinances may be:
1) Objected to by the official designated by law, by means of a duly reasoned veto;
2) Appealed by any interested party.
(2) In either case, if the Municipal Government does not revoke or amend the ordinance objected or appealed, the case is referred to such Court of the Judicial Branch as determined by law, for final resolution thereof.
Article 174  []
The law specifies those cases in which Municipal Governments require legislative authorization to subscribe loan agreements, encumber their properties or revenues, or dispose of real or personal property.
Article 175  []
Municipal Governments fix their ordinary and extraordinary budgets. In order to take effect, they must be approved by the Office of the Comptroller General, which supervises their execution.

Title XIII  Public Finances


Chapter I  The Budget of the Republic

Article 176  []
(1) The ordinary budget of the Republic encompasses all probable revenues and all authorized expenditures of the public administration during the fiscal year. In no case may the amount of budgetary expenditures exceed that of probable revenues.
(2) The Municipal Governments and autonomous institutions must observe the foregoing rules when issuing their budgets.
(3) The budget of the Republic is issued for a period of one year, from the first day of January to the thirty-first day of December.
Article 177  []
(1) The Executive Branch prepares the ordinary budget through a specialized department, the head of which is appointed by the President of the Republic for a term of six years. This Department has authority to reduce or suppress any items in the proposed budgets drawn up by the Cabinet Ministers, the Legislative Assembly, the Supreme Court of Justice and the Supreme Electoral Tribunal. In the event of any conflict, the President of the Republic makes the final decision. The expenditures budgeted by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal for suffrage purposes cannot be objected by the Department to which this article refers.
(2) The budget allocates to the Judicial Branch an amount of no less than six percent of the ordinary income estimated for the fiscal year. However, when this amount is greater than the sum required to cover the basic needs budgeted by said Branch, said Department designates the difference as excess revenue, together with a plan for additional expenditure, in order that the Legislative Assembly may take the appropriate measures.
(3) In order to obtain comprehensive social security coverage and to fully guarantee the payment of the State contribution, both as the State and as employer, sufficient revenues must be allocated to the Costa Rican Social Security Administration, duly calculated to satisfy the current and future needs of the Institution. If a deficit occurs as a result of insufficient revenues, the State assumes this obligation, for which the Executive Branch includes in the next budget the appropriate amount considered by said institution as necessary to cover the total State payments.
(4) The Executive Branch prepares for each fiscal year the proposed extraordinary budgets, for the expenditure of revenues derived from the use of public credit or from any other extraordinary source.
Article 178  []
The proposed ordinary budget must be submitted to the Legislative Assembly by the Executive Branch not later than the first day of September of each year and the Budget Law is finally enacted before the thirtieth day of November of the same year.
Article 179  []
The Assembly may not increase the expenditures budgeted by the Executive Branch unless it also provides for new revenues to be collected, upon prior opinion of the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic as to the fiscal effectiveness thereof.
Article 180  []
(1) The regular and extraordinary budgets constitute the limit of the action by Public Powers in the use and disposal of State funds, and they may be amended only by laws proposed by the Executive Branch.
(2) Any proposed amendment that implies an increase in or the creation of expenditures is subject to the terms of the foregoing article.
(3) However, when the Assembly is in recess, the Executive Branch may alter the intended use of an authorized item or open additional credits, but only to meet urgent or unforeseen necessities in the event of war, internal commotion or public calamity. In such cases, the Office of the Comptroller may not withhold approval of expenditures so ordered and the respective Decree implies the convocation of the Legislative Assembly to special sessions to act upon it.
Article 181  []
The Executive Branch submits to the Office of the Comptroller the liquidation of the regular and any extraordinary budgets, not later than the first day of March following expiration of the year in question. The Office of the Comptroller submits it to the Assembly, together with its opinion, not later than the next first day of May. The final approval or disapproval of the items corresponds to the Legislative Assembly.
Article 182  []
Contracts for performance of public works entered into by State Branches, Municipal Governments and autonomous institutions, purchases made with funds of those entities, and sales or leases of their property are carried out by means of binding proceedings, in accordance with the provisions of law governing the amount involved.

Chapter II  The Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic

Article 183  []
(1) The Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic is an auxiliary institution of the Legislative Assembly in its surveillance of the Public Finances; but it has full functional and administrative independence in the performance of its duties.
(2) A Comptroller and an Assistant Comptroller are in charge of the Comptroller's Office. Both officials are appointed by the Legislative Assembly for a term of eight years, two years after the commencement of a presidential term. They can be reelected indefinitely, enjoying the immunities and prerogatives of the members of the Supreme Branches.
(3) The Comptroller and the Assistant Comptroller are responsible to the Assembly for the performance of their duties and may be removed by it by a vote of no less than two-thirds of the entire membership, if their unfitness or misconduct is demonstrated in the proceedings conducted for the purpose.
Article 184  []
The powers and duties of the Comptroller's Office are:
1) To supervise the execution and liquidation of the ordinary and extraordinary budgets of the Republic;
No order of payment against State funds may be issued unless the respective expenditure has been countersigned by the Comptroller's Office; and there is no obligation for the State unless it has been so countersigned;
2) To examine and approve or disapprove the budgets of the Municipal Governments and the autonomous institutions, and supervise their execution and liquidation;
3) To submit a report on an annual basis to the Legislative Assembly, at its first regular session, covering the preceding fiscal year, including a detail of the work of the Comptroller and any opinions or suggestions he may deem necessary for a better management of public funds;
4) To examine, audit and close the accounts of State institutions and public officials;
5) Any other powers vested in it by this Constitution or the laws.

Chapter III  The National Treasury

Article 185  []
The National Treasury is the center of operations for all national revenue offices. This is the only body legally empowered to pay out funds on behalf of the State and to receive any amounts that, as revenues or for any other reason, have to enter to the National Treasury.
Article 186  []
A National Treasurer and an Assistant Treasurer are in charge of the Treasury. Both officials are independent in the performance of their duties, which are regulated by law. They are appointed by the Government Council for a term of four years, and may be removed only for due cause.
Article 187  []
(1) Any expenditure by the National Treasury, not related to the wages of the permanent personnel of the Public Administration, duly included in the budget, is published in the Official Journal.
(2) Those expenditures that for very special reasons the Government Council believes should not be published are exempted from this formality, but in this event, the Legislative Assembly and the Comptroller's Office must be given notice confidentially without delay.

Title XIV  The Autonomous Institutions

Article 188  []
The autonomous institutions of the State do enjoy administrative independence and are subject to the law in matters of government. Their directors are liable for their management.
Article 189  []
The autonomous institutions are:
1) The State banks;
2) The State insurance institutions;
3) Those established by this Constitution and any new institutions that the Legislative Assembly may create by a vote of no less than two thirds of its entire membership.
Article 190  []
For discussion and passing of bills of law concerning an autonomous institution, the Legislative Assembly previously hears the opinion of that entity.

Title XV  The Civil Service

Article 191  []
A civil service statute regulates the relations between the State and public employees for the purpose of guaranteeing the efficiency of the administration.
Article 192  []
With the exceptions that this Constitution and the civil service statute may determine, public employees are appointed on the basis of proven ability, and may be removed only on the grounds for justified termination as set forth in the labor legislation; or in case of a forced reduction in services, either because of lack of funds or striving to have a better organization of such services.
Article 193  []
The President of the Republic, the Cabinet Ministers and the officials who manage public funds are required to declare their property, which must be duly appraised in accordance with the law.

Title XVI  The Constitutional Oath

Article 194  []
The oath that must be taken by public officials as provided in Article 11 of this Constitution is as follows:
"Do you swear before God and promise the Country to observe and defend the Constitution and the laws of the Republic and faithfully fulfill the duties of your office? -Yes, I swear.- If you do, may God help you, and if you do not, may He and the Country call you to account."

Title XVII  Amendments to the Constitution

Article 195  []
The Legislative Assembly may partially amend this Constitution complying strictly with the following provisions:
1) A proposal asking for the amendment of one or more articles must be submitted to the Assembly at regular sessions, signed by at least ten representatives or by at least five percent (5%) of registered voters;
2) The proposal must be read three times at intervals of six days, to determine whether or not it is admitted for discussion;
3) If admitted, it is sent to a commission appointed by absolute majority of the Assembly, which has to render its opinion within a period of twenty business days;
4) Upon submission of this opinion, it is discussed in accordance with the procedure established for enactment of laws; said amendment is approved by a vote of no less than two thirds of the entire membership of the Assembly;
5) Once the amendment has been favorably voted, the Assembly prepares the appropriate bill of law through a commission, being an absolute majority enough for its approval;
6) Said bill of law is sent to the Executive Branch, which in turn sends it with the Presidential Message to the Assembly at the start of the next regular legislative period, with his observations, or his recommendation;
7) The Legislative Assembly, at its first sessions, discusses the bill of law in three debates. If it is approved by a vote of no less than two thirds of the entire membership, it becomes a part of the Constitution and is communicated to the Executive Branch for publication and observance thereof;
8) According to Article 105 of this Constitution, constitutional amendments can be subjected to a referendum after being approved in one legislative term and before the next legislative term, if two thirds of the total membership of the Legislative Assembly so request.
Article 196  []
A general amendment of this Constitution can only be made by a Constituent Assembly called for the purpose. A law calling such Assembly is passed by a vote of no less than two thirds of the total membership of the Legislative Assembly and does not require the approval of the Executive Branch.

Title XVIII  Final Provisions

Article 197  []
This Constitution enters into force on the eighth day of November, 1949, and does repeal all others. The existing legal system continues in force unless amended or repealed by the competent organs of the Public Power or as long as it is not expressly or implicitly repealed by the present Constitution.

For methodology see: Comparing Constitutions and International Constitutional Law.
© 1994 - 27.6.2020 / Thanks to S. Girón. / For corrections please contact A. Tschentscher.