Zona Catastrada, the Costa Rica Land Survey

Logo of the Registro Nacional in Costa Rica - the land registryWhat is a Zona Catastrada you ask? Well, it is a county or district in Costa Rica that has been surveyed by the government to ensure that all properties registered have accurate land boundaries and are properly registered.

In a continuing effort to help educate my readers about Costa Rica property purchasing and ownership, I have not been just sitting around during the COVID-19 shutdown here in Costa Rica. I spent a good amount of time with my trusted legal advisors learning and understanding some new regulations pertaining to real estate in the district of Sardinal, located in the canton of Carrillo in province Guanacaste, especially the Playa Hermosa area.

This information is freely shared and in no way is it meant to represent any legal advice. It is highly recommended that you speak with a licensed registered “Notario” or a lawyer that is registered as a notary in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Plano CatastralI am going to do my best to explain some past history and what is happing now so that you can be fully aware before deciding to purchase a beautiful Costa Rica property, or if you are planning on selling your Costa Rica property.

Over the years the “Registro Nacional” or national registry division of Costa Rica and the “Registro Catastral” or cadastral registry division (official property surveys) of the country did not automatically link together. It was discovered many years ago that there is actually more land registered than there is actual land in Costa Rica. They are now linked and are working all over Costa Rica to correct any discrepancies.

Image of the land registry website in Costa RicaSome properties may have been registered under ownership but no lot survey was done, then there were lot surveys done with multiple registrations, some properties were surveyed overlapping other properties or the survey showed the property lines flowing into the street. These are just a few examples. The central government has been working on correcting this issue for years now. There have been many areas in the country that have already gone through the process. Now it has come to the district of Sardinal where I often assist folks with buying and selling property and it is the same area that my home is located. It is called “ZONA CATASTRADA”. The entire district or county of Sardinal has been resurveyed by the government.

Playa del Coco Certified land surveyUnder the new regulations all lawyers that are notaries, who are responsible for transferring property, are required by law to ensure the property being transferred is “Certificado Catastral” if the property is located in a “ZONA CATASTRADA”. Here is a translated explanation of “Certificado Catastral” as it is called in Spanish or Certified Cadastral in English.

A map or survey showing the extent, value, and ownership of land, especially for taxation purposes. First, territoriality consists of commonly accepted spatial concepts and methods of area delineation, from oral traditions and place-naming practices to cadastral registers backed by state power.

Costa Rica property registry reportThis new “Certificado Catastral” replaces the original “Plano Catastral” and the “Informe Registrado” and will indicate if there is a variance or discrepancy on any property within Zona Catastrada. If not, all is good to go. If there is a discrepancy, most of these can be easily fixed. For example, it is possible that the registry report shows that no lot survey has been registered, or the registry report shows one amount of actual land, while the survey report shows another amount of land.

So, what does this mean for you? First, if you are thinking of purchasing a piece of property you should ask your local, Costa Rican notary if the “Certificado Catastral” is clean.

If you are selling property it would be wise to get this done before you receive any serious offers. If an offer comes and your land does not have a clean Certificado Catastral it could delay the closing and potentially result in a loss of sale – something you certainly would not want to happen.

Second, it is recommended you contact the legal team that helped you purchase your property in the first place to have them start work on getting a Certificado Catastral for you. It is not very hard to obtain. At the time of writing this, this report is not available online, unlike some other registry reports.

Third, if there is an issue with your property please remember that when you purchased the property this was not a requirement. Your property was transferred and due diligence was done correctly.

If you have questions or have not been in touch with your legal team in a while, I can recommend a very good legal firm that can assist you with this process. Just send me an email (see below).

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