Below we share information on the main government institutions and non-governmental organisations where you can seek support and advice.
Organizations Working with Refugees and Asylum Seekers
• General Office of Immigration (DGME)
Government institution that oversees the protection and integration of migrants and refugees. This is the starting point of the process of applying for refugee status.
Tel: 2299-8030 / 2299-8031
• Administrative Migration Court (TAM)
The Administrative Migration Court, or TAM, is the final court of appeal in the system for determining refugee status. It will issue a final judgment of whether a person is recognized as a refugee or not.
Address: Barrio Escalante, 50 meters north from Bagelmen's restaurant, mid-block, left side, orange building, second floor.
• International Association of Consultants and Advisors (ACAI)
ACAI is a partner who implements the programs and projects of UNHCR in Costa Rica. ACAI has interdisciplinary services to ensure the protection and integration of refugees and asylum seekers.
Tel: (506) 2233-3314.
Toll Free: 800-800-ACAI (800-800-2224)
For text messaging: (506) 8593-0249
• Refugee Education Trust (RET)
Refugee Education Trust (RET) is an international non-governmental organization (NGO). The Office in Costa Rica focuses on the promotion and fulfillment of the human rights of refugees and asylum seekers.
Tel: 2293-2611 / 2293-8807 / 2293-2742
Organizations Working with Migrants
• International Organization for Migration (IOM)
Its goals are to respond to the challenges of migration management, to understand migration, encourage development through migration, and ensure the welfare and dignity of migrants.
Address: Avenida Central, between Calles 27 and 29, casa 2775, San Jose.
• Jesuit Migrant Service
Protects and defends the human rights of immigrants in Costa Rica. Supports refugees in preparing for the test for the naturalization process (Costa Rican citizenship).
Address: Lourdes de Montes de Oca, from the catholic church, 100m east and 75m south, San Jose.
The NGO Center for Social Rights of Migrants works for the leadership and empowerment of the Nicaraguan and border migrant population.
Address: Casa Alameda, Section 1353-2050, San Jose, Montes de Oca, San Pedro.
The Association of Female Domestic Workers was created for and by women engaged in paid domestic work and looking to improve their living conditions through training, advisory, and the defense of their legal and human rights as women and workers.
Website: astradomes.wordpress.com (in spanish)
Safety and Protection
• Defensoría de los Habitantes (Ombudsman)
The “Defensoría de los Habitantes” has the duty to protect the people of Costa Rica in the event of unfair actions or omissions by the public sector.
Address: Barrio Mexico, Calle 22, Avenidas 7 and 11
• Judicial Investigation Organization (OIJ)
The OIJ works in the investigation, scientific discovery and verification of crimes and their perpetrators. This is where situations of crime, theft, assaults, sexual assaults are reported, among others.
Tel: 800-800-OIJ (645)
• Law Enforcement
The law enforcement (police) ensures the safety and exercise of the rights and freedoms of every human being in partnership with the community. It is important that you locate the police station that is closer to your home.
• Office for the Care and Protection of Victims
The Office for the Care and Protection of Victims protects the rights of people who have been victims or witnesses of various crimes while in Costa Rica. After a case assessment, and if the person qualifies for the program, this office provides services such as: psychological care, social assistance, legal advisory, accompaniments to different judicial proceedings, reference to other health, social assistance, and protection institutions, among others. It has several offices in different provinces across the country.
Tel: 2253-2935 / 2253-2941
Address: 50 meters southeast of the Omar Dengo Foundation. Barrio Francisco Peralta, avenidas 10 and 12, calle 25.
Protection of Minors
• National Children's Trust (PANI)
The National Children's Trust is the governing body that protects the rights and the protection of childhood and adolescence. You can look for PANI assistance in the event that your son or daughter, or underage person under your tutelage, is being assaulted, discriminated against, or excluded.
For reports, you may call 911.
PANI also offers toll free numbers for:
Teenage mothers and their families: 800-2262626
Children and teenagers: 1147
Address: Barrio Lujan, 100 meters east of Escuela Republica de Chile. San Jose.
Protection of Women
• National Institute for Women (INAMU)
The INAMU specializes in the protection of women and provides various support services, such as counseling, human rights advice, and services for female victims of violent situations. Support and services are provided through various regional offices, specialized centers, and a telephone helpline.
To report cases of violence against women, you can call 911.
Address of headquarters:
West side of the San Pedro Mall, Oficentro SIGMA, San José
• Office for Women
Body of the Ministry of the Interior and Police which gives support to women and/or their children who are victims of domestic violence. It provides legal and psychosocial care and support, as well as guidance following the guidelines of INAMU and working with other national institutions such as the Fund, the Joint Institute for Social Welfare (IMAS) or the Judiciary.
To report cases of domestic violence, you can call 800-300-3000 (Hotline)
Telephone numbers: 2255-1368 / 2233-7895
Address: INAMU Care Center, located 75m to the south of the main entrance of the National Museum, on the Boulevard of the judicial circuit.
• House of Rights of the Municipality of Desamparados
It provides free services for psychosocial or legal care and support to give improved care for refugee, migrant or national victims of gender-based violence. It also provides legal advice on the process of applying for refugee status.
Telephone numbers: 2250-9105 / 2250-6507
Address: 100m west and 50m south of the Palacio Municipal (City Hall), facing the parking area of the Funeraria del Recuerdo (Memorial Funeral Home), Desamparados, San José.
• Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS)
The CCSS or “Caja” (“Fund”) provides health services to the population throughout the country and provides economic, social and pension protection.
Telephone: 2539-0000 (Ext 6221, 6222, 6223).
• Ministry of Public Education (MEP)
The Ministry of Public Education is the governing body in all matters relating to education (from kindergarten to high school).
• National Training Institute (INA)
The INA is the governing body in education and technical training in the country. Its aim is to promote and develop professional training for productive labor. Training services are completely free.
If you would like more information about the courses, you can call 2210-6000 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org
La Uruca Headquarters, Tel: 2210-6001
• Public Universities
Universidad de Costa Rica
The UCR is the biggest public university in the country. It offers a wide range of professional degrees and also offers free courses. It has a scholarship program.
Universidad Estatal a Distancia (UNED)
UNED offers distant learning in a wide choice of degrees as well as free and extension courses. It also has a scholarship program.
Tel: 2527 – 2000
Address: 500m east of the Rotonda la Betania, Carretera a Sabanilla.
Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica
The Technological Institute of Costa Rica is a higher education institution dedicated to research, teaching, and improving technology for the development of Costa Rica. There are various locations in the country.
Cartago Headquarters Tel: 2552-5333
San José Academic Center Tel: 2257-0470
The UNA is a higher education institution that provides various degrees and has campuses throughout the country.
Switchboard Tel: 2277-3000 / 2277-3010
Campus address: Campus Omar Dengo, Heredia, Costa Rica, Avenida 1, Calle 9
• Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MTSS)
The MTSS is responsible for the implementation of labor policies and for the safeguarding of labor rights for workers, employers, pensioners, and vulnerable persons; contributing to development and social justice by offering them social guarantees and dignity at work.
You can call MTSS for free at 800 TRABAJO (800-872-2256)
Address: Central offices, Father Benjamin Nuñez Building, Barrio Tournón, San José.
Care for Children
• The National Board of Education and Nutrition Centers and Children’s Comprehensive Care Centers (CEN-CINAI)
The National Board of Education and Nutrition Centers and Children’s Comprehensive Care Centers (CEN-CINAI) is part of the Ministry of Health. It provides day care services for children in situations of poverty and/or social risk. There are 617 establishments in the country providing such support. Find out where to find the CEN-CINAI in your community.
Tel: 2258-7918 / 2257-5907 / Ext. 216/305
Address: 100m south of the southwest corner of the Park la Merced, Avenida 4 and 6, Calle 14, San José.
Care for the Elderly
• The National Council for the Elderly (CONAPAM)
The National Council for the Elderly (CONAPAM) seeks to improve the living conditions and ensure the welfare of the elderly, so that they have a full and dignified life.
Address: Barrio Gonzalez Lahman, Avenida 6 Calle 25, 100m north of the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications, San José.
• Costa Rican Geriatric Association (AGECO)
The Costa Rican Geriatric Association (AGECO) is dedicated to empowering older people and to improving their quality of life. It provides educational and recreational programs, social participation, respect and security.
Address: 300m north and 25m east of the Santa Teresita Church, Barrio Escalante, San José.
Work with Young People
• Council of Young People (CPJ)
The CPJ forms part of the Ministery of Culture and Youth. Its aim is to develop and implement public policies related to young people, ensuring equal opportunities for all.
Tel: 2257-1130 / 2280-4376
San José Office: 100m north and 50m east of the “Matute Gómez” house
Guadalupe Office: Adjacent to the Guadalupe cemetery, San José
Care for People with Disabilities
• National Council of Rehabilitation and Special Education (CNREE)
The CNREE is a government body that seeks to promote, through various types of activities, the inclusive development and integration of people with disabilities to achieve the fulfilment of their rights and so that they have a decent life.
Tel: 2562-3100 / 2562-3166
Address: 200m North of the Remembrance Gardens (Jardines de Recuerdo), Valencia de Heredia, Heredia.
Care for LGBTI People
The Centre for Research and Development for Central America of Human Rights (CIPAC) is a non-governmental organization with a gender and humanist perspective, whose aim is to remove barriers and social inequalities related to gender and sexual orientation, promoting the inclusion of young people, research, promotion of human rights and holistic health.
• Joint Institute for Social Aid (IMAS)
The IMAS is an autonomous institution whose purpose is to solve the problem of extreme poverty in the country, promoting decent living conditions and the social development of individuals, of families, giving them opportunities and various services.
Toll free: 800 2224 9163
Organizations Working with Men
• Institute WEM
NGO that works mainly with the male population on issues such as violence or gender equality, parenthood and sexuality. They contribute to improving equity between men and women in the labor market and contribute to the prevention of violence by men against women, children and adolescents.
Support line for men: 2234-2730
Address: 75m South of the Bomba El Higuerón, house on the left, San Pedro, Montes de Oca, San José.
Organizations Working with Microentrepreneurs
• Ministry of Economy, Industry and Commerce (MEIC)
DIGEPYME is a government service office (part of MEIC) that seeks competitive and sustainable strengthening of Costa Rican SMEs through an efficient inter-agency coordination that makes it possible to develop various projects and support programs and quality reporting mechanisms for the trade and services industry sectors, in order to improve the standard of living for Costa Ricans.
Tel: 2549-1400, Ext: 100 – 119
• Fundación Mujer
Fundación Mujer together with UNHCR has a microcredit program for refugees. This NGO provides counseling, training and funding for microentrepreneurs.
Address: De la Escuela de Betania, 200 Norte y 50 Este.
• BN Desarrollo – National Bank for Development (Banco Nacional de Desarrollo)
The BN Development program provides comprehensive financial services and business support to micro, small, and medium enterprises in any type of economic activity.
Tel San José offices: 2212-3231 / 2212-3721 / 2212-3456
• Popular Desarrollo – Banco Popular y de Desarrollo Comunal
This program is aimed at addressing the financial needs and provides support services for the development of enterprises. You can call the headquarters to find out the contact of the office that is closest to you: 2211-7000 / 2211-7240 / 2283-3397.
• Credit Fund for Small and Medium Enterprises (FODEMIPYME)
Special fund of the Banco Popular that includes a fund of endorsements and guarantees and a credit fund to finance projects or programs for training, technical assistance, technology development, tehcnology transfer, knowledge, research, manpower development, technical professional training and processes for innovation and technology change.
• Costa Rican Association of Development Organizations (ACORDE)
It features a Business Support unit that manages and promotes between its clients activities, programs and projects aimed at business development (training, consulting, practices).
Care for Victims of Trafficking and Sex Trade
• Rahab Foundation (Fundación Rahab)
They provide comprehensive care to female and male victims of sex trade to help them reintegrate into the Costa Rican society.
Tel: 2248-2095 / 2248-0929
Address: Avenida 12, between Calles 11 and 13, diagonally across from the Teatro Chaplín (Chaplin Theatre), 175m East of the BCR (Bank of Costa Rica) on Paseo de los Estudiantes, San José.