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National Archives of Costa Rica

The National Archives of Costa Rica is a decentralized institution of the Ministry of Culture and Youth. It is the governing body of the national archival system; it manages the country’s documentary heritage and helps to control the notarial practice in the country. Its purposes are to preserve and to diffuse the country’s documentary heritage, to guarantee access to information, to favor the transparency in the administrative task and to support the decision making. 

The institution has three national archives namely: Historical, Notarial and Interval (recording center), as well as National Commission of Document Selection and Elimination. Also, Preservation Department’s work stands out.

The institution was created in 1881.
Around 126 people work there, and it is located between the cantons of Zapote and Curridabat at the province of San José.


Historical Archives


Historical Archives is one of the National Archives’ Departments, and it is the largest of its kind in the country.

Its task is totally related to preservation and facilitation of Costa Ricans’ documentary heritage.
The search room called José Luis Coto Conde, is one of the major public accountant spaces. In this place it is possible to consult more than 4.97 miles which are preserved in Historical Archives. 

The information is organized in about 300 documentary funds; among them, fifteen are private, seventeen particular, 160 000 are pictures, and 47000 maps and plans.

There are not any kinds of documents; there are only the ones that have scientific and cultural value.
This feature is given after a process by National Commission of Document Selection and Elimination. When a document has a scientific and cultural value, means that it fulfills a testimony function and shows Costa Rica’s development.

In documents’ preservation the Preservation Department plays a very important role because it establishes the deposits’ humidity, lighting, temperature, and cleaning.


  • Documents’ facilitation and loan in the search room JosĂ© Luis Coto Conde.
  • Reproduction service of pictures, maps, and plans as well as database records, videos and taping.
  • Pictures: they are available in different sizes; the smallest one is of 4 x 6 inches, negative, documents’ reproduction by digital camera.
  • Elaboration of years of service certifications in the public function until 1965.
  • Elaboration of literal transcription certifications of complex reading historical documents.

Notarial Archive


In the notarized exercise in Costa Rica the Notarial Archive plays an important and current role. As established the legislation in force, in both Notarial Code and Archivists, National Archives System’s law is responsible of gathering, organizing, preserving, and facilitating index and notarial and consular protocols since 1960.

In the external part of the institution, Notarial Archive has a tight relation with entities such as Notarial Superior Council (body in charge of organize Costa Rican notarized and where the National Archives’ Administrative Board has a representing), the Lawyers Association, the different registers of National Register, the Notarial Court and judicial offices in general.

The documentary heritage that shelters this archive is formed by two elements namely:

  • Notarial and consular protocols from 1960 until now.
  • Public Instruments Index from 1960 until now.

Interval Archive (recording center)


The Interval Archive was created in 2000 with the purpose of keeping the documentation with administrative and legal value, and facilitating to the public that need to consult it. In its deposits shelters Ministries and Vice-Ministries transferences, as well as some funds that are considered closed because of institutions disappearance or fusion, such as Costa Rican Anglo Bank.


Coordination of National Archives System


One of the functions the legislation assigns to the National Archives of Costa Rica is the coordination of National Archives System, which is formed by more than 300 archives of Costa Rican public institutions.

Also, in this labor context, the institution coordinates everything related to the documents transference.
The transference is the sum of activities in which produced and received documents by an office, in fulfillment of their functions, are organized to move into a high archive stage.


Preservation Department


In this Department restorations and bookbinding are made, as well as preservation and restoration tutorship of historical documents. Also, the course and workshop of documents warning preservation is taught.





DirecciĂłn General del Archivo Nacional.

Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud.

900 metros sur y 150 oeste Plaza del Sol, Curridabat.

Teléfono: (506) 2283-1400 / Fax: (506) 2234-7312.

Apartado postal: 41-2020, Zapote, Costa Rica.

2019 ® Dirección General del Archivo Nacional.