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National Archives of Costa Rica


The National Archive of Costa Rica is a decentralized institution of the Ministry of Culture and Youth. It’s the governing body of the National Archive System which manages Costa Rica’s documentary heritage and collaborates in the control of the country’s notarial activities. Its goals are to preserve and disseminate the document archive, and to guarantee access to the information; to favor transparency of the administrative management and sustain decision-making. Working with documentary heritage is a part of its functions, but not the only one. Equally important are the stewardship of the National Archive System, and the custody and provision of notarial documents.


Historical Archive


The Historical Archive is the largest of its kind in the country. It organizes, facilitates and disseminates of the Nation’s documentary heritage; constituted by all those documents in any format, which have been declared of scientific and cultural value by the National Commission of Documents’ Selection and Elimination. This department conserves documents of the following classes in its deposits: textual, which represent the largest part; photographs in positive, negative and slides; graphs as maps and blueprints, posters, material of small format; films and videos and more recently, documents in digital support. The Historical Archive conserves documents dating back to 1539.


One of its spaces attending most of the public is the José Luis Coto Conde Consulting Room, place where it’s possible to access over 7 linear Km of documents. The information is organized as approximately 150 documentation collections, of which 93 are public, 16 private, 25 individual, and 18 collections, besides graphics and museographic documents. Additional to this, there are over 220 thousand photographs, as well as 54 thousand maps and blueprints.


The Historical Archive offers the following services:


Provision of documents in the Consulting Room.

Consult of reference databases and digital documents through the web site.

Reproduction of text documents, photographs, maps and blueprints, as well as videos and recordings.

Reproduction of photographs: with digital camera, but in case of analogic ones different sizes are offered, according to the user’s needs.

Elaboration of certifications of literal transcription of historical documents which are difficult to read.

Loan of historical documents to production entities.

Elaboration of certifications of years of service in the civil service, up to 1965.

Transfer of documents declared of scientific cultural value

Management of documents donated by individuals, families or private companies


Notarial Archive


Is in charge of receiving, organizing, conserving, and facilitating part of the documentary heritage, of value to science and culture; it’s constituted by volumes of notarial protocols and indexes of public instruments. It contributes in the control of notarial activities, in agreement with what is ruled by the National Archive System Act and the Notary Code.


The Notarial Archive offers the following services:


Consultation of digital notarial protocols on the internet.

Notarial consults of databases on the internet (wills, indexes and protocols in deposit).

INDEX: information system for the presentation of indexes through the internet using the digital signature.

Definitive deposit of volumes of notarial protocols and consular records.

Temporary deposit of volumes of notarial protocols and consular records.

Provision of notarial documents.

Reception of indexes of public instruments.

Reproduction of public instruments (simple or certified copies, certifications or Later Testimonies) and notifications.

Seizure or Loan of protocol volumes or notary indexes by Judicial Authorities or by the National Notarial Directorate.

Attach later security form to testimonies.


Steering of the National Archive System


One of the functions assigned by law to the National Archive of Costa Rica is the coordination of the National Archive System, integrated by over 300 archives of public institutions. The department of External Archival Services is in charge of implementing the actions of technical support to the institutions integrating the System.

This department is in charge of the Intermediate Archive, where documents of administrative and legal value which have been transferred from institutions which have closed are gathered, organized, and provided, as well as the most relevant documents of Ministers’ offices, of the Presidency of the Republic and of the Governing Council, according to what’s established by article 53 of Act 7202 of the National Archive System.


The services of the System’s stewardship include:


Consultancies in the organization of central archives or management

Inspection of archives

Follow-up to inspection reports and consultancies.

Transfer of documents


Documentary assessment


National Commission of Selection and Elimination of Documents


Is an advising organ of the Directorate General of the National Archive; created by Act N° 7202, October 24th of 1990. Its main function is to dictate norms for the selection and elimination of documents, according to their scientific-cultural value and solving queries on the elimination of documents by producer entities. This is done on the basis of the input provided by the entities, on previously established assessment instruments.


National Archive System


Act No. 7202 creates the National Archive System, in charge of establishing the country’s archival policies, and of recommending strategies for an adequate development of the System. It has to formulate technical recommendations for the production and management of documents, as well as for the administration of documents produced by automated media and, to veil for the optimal organization of Costa Rica’s public archives.

The National Archive regularly inspects the central and management archives, be it by their request, or ex officio. In this latter case, they inspect when the institution relocates; when documentation remains on inadequate places, is disorganized or eliminated without approval from the National Commission of Selection and Elimination of Documents. Likewise, when because of the documentation’s value it’s deemed necessary, or when becoming aware of an institution is to disappear. The goal of inspection visits is to safeguard the documentary heritage of the Nation and establish permanent relations with central archives and management to improve the conservation and organization of their documents.

Consulting in an archives’ organization is done individually and is targeted, only for those central archives when the person in charge lacks professional training in archival science; when entity management archives have no central archive and in special, cases ordered by higher authorities.

In the interest of verification of compliance of the recommendations issued, in the inspections and consultancies offered to the National Archive System, the National Archive carries out visits and follow-up reports.




Dirección 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.