Getting Nicaraguan Residency: The Health Certificate
First off all remember that I am not a lawyer or authority, I do not give legal advice and everything here is based on my personal experiences and investigations. For legal advice you should talk to a lawyer.
The dreaded Health Certificate
It’s number 7 on the Requisitos para Solicitud de Residencia and required by everyone. Here is what it says in Spanish and then in English:
7) Certificado de salud emitido por autoridad competente de su pais de residencia autenticado por el Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y por el Consulado de Nicaragua en su Pais de origen y autenticar en Cancilleria de Nicaragua o de las autoridades de salud nicaraguenses. (Apostilla en su caso)
7) Certificate of health given by a competent authority of your country of residency, authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Apostille from the Secretary of State for the state you reside in…here is the one for Texas, for example) and by the Nicaraguan Consulate in your country of origin (in the USA, England, Germany, France, sorry Canada) and MINREX or from the Nicaraguan Health authorities.
So what does that mean? First off, get a physical in your home country and make sure you get the results on official letterhead. Ask them nicely if they can give you two copies just in case. If they have a stamp of some sort, even better. Nica officials love to see rubber stamps and the more the merrier.
Take your certificate to to get an apostille from your state’s Secretary of State office (keep in mind you may need to make an appointment online or by phone, check the website). It is usually located in the state’s capital. But what is an apostille and why is it needed? An apostille is a French word that means “certificate”. Essentially it is an internationally recognized notary signature. It serves to tell the Nicaraguan officials that your health certificate isn’t a photoshop job that you bought on fiverr.com. Expect to pay about $10 – $20 plus a trip to get it done.
Make your job easier by going only once to get all your documents stamped with an apostille. You will have at least three: the health certificate, your birth certificate and your police record. Also, make sure to get at least two copies of your documents if you can. You probably won’t need a second set, but if you do, the extra $$ invested will save you from having to make a trip back home!
Once you have your certificate with the apostille, it’s time to get it stamped again by the Nicaraguan consulate in your home country. There are quite a few in the USA, so unless you are from Hawaii, you shouldn’t have to go far. Now here is something that I have yet to get a clear answer on…whether this step is necessary. If you call up the Nica consulate in your country they may tell you that it isn’t required if you have the apostille. Then when you explain that to the girl at the immigration office in Managua she might look at you funny and tell you that yes, it is. I was able to get out of it by politely arguing my case and they accepted my documents (it was for my birth certificate).
When you are back in lovely Managua it’s time to go to the MINREX to have them authenticate it. This shouldn’t be a hassle, just go to the office and talk to the girl at the front desk and she can help you. If all your affairs are in order they ought to put their final stamp on it (it may take a couple of days) and your Certificado de Salud is ready.
You can take care of it all right here in Nicaragua. Go to the public health clinic where you are living, tell them you need a Certificado de Salud for your residency, show them your passport and follow their instructions. For me it meant going to the clinic in District 5 in Managua. The doctor knew what to do (health certificates are common to get) and handed me a torn piece of paper with a scribble on it. I was then told to go get a shot. I got my shot, tetanus supposedly, and took the now signed scribble paper to the front desk. The lady handed me a piece of paper, signed by a doctor, stamped by the clinic with the heading, Certificado de Salud. It said that I was in satisfactory physical and mental health. And it only took 20 minutes and didn’t cost a dime!
That certificate works. I witnessed the number 2 in charge of immigration services confirm that when I went with a lawyer (who I later dropped, but that’s a different story). Not to mention I got my residency. So I know it works.
Next topic will be getting the police record. THAT’S a real barrel of monkeys.
By the way if anyone would like help with their residency process my wife and I might be available. While we don’t pretend to be lawyers by any stretch of the imagination, we do have experience in residency, can translate Spanish and can offer rides here in Managua to get stuff done. Any legal advice is better given by a lawyer and there are links to a few through our friends at nicaraguadispatch.com, nicaragua-community.com and nicaliving.com.
Feel free to contact me here.