Forming a non-profit corporation requires lots of patience

I read with interest and amusement your editorial articleon obtaining a personaría juridica. Coincidentally I am in the process of obtaining the same for a small, non-profit organization that exists on modest donations, so we can open up a checking account in the organization’s name and store our treasury (less than $3,000) in a secure location. Banco de Costa Rica told us in March of 2010 that we would need a non-profit corporation and apersonaría juridica, so we asked an attorney to help us.

We have been en trámite for a year and a half and just received our “books” yesterday, and we are expecting our personaría juridica shortly. The term en trámitewould better be translated as “in trauma” rather than “in process”. The Tico term calvario or trudging the road to calvary, with all its implied pain and suffering, is a perfect description.

We first submitted an application listing our major officers only to be told we needed eight persons to sign including several fiscales. We added those and resubmitted the application. Three months later we were told we would need a total of 10 signatories. We submitted two more. Then we were told the “book” we had to submit, which looks like one of those grammar school notebooks with a mottled black and white cover, was too small and we needed to submit a bigger one. Also, our attorney had to have a law student hand write about 20 pages of what appeared to be standard corporate boilerplate into the book. (One of our original signers has since died but I ain’t telling the powers to be in San José.)

Yesterday we received back five mottled books that are supposed to house various actas to be recorded by the directors, for the employees etc. plus a document of about 20 pages with several official looking stamps and flowery signatures on it. I was told that’s the dude the bank will need a copy of to open a checking account.

I’ve started several corporations in the United States in three different states. In Florida this process can be done online in less than an hour. Get a federal tax ID number (another less than an hour process on line), check that your proposed corporate name is available from the state records, pay approximately 50 bucks by credit card online and, le voila, you have a corporation. In 7-10 days you get the official document (note singular form used) in the mail.

Now I see why the World Bank’s Ease-of-Doing-Business Ranking this year placed Costa Rica 125th out of 183.
Gringos should not get too comfortable though as the U.S. ranking slipped to No. 5, down from No. 3 two years ago. The reason cited? Increasing business taxes and regulations.

I love Costa Rica and I love the people here, but can’t we get just a little more efficient, amigos?

I’d like to think the story ends here but I expect there will be more hurdles to overcome at the bank.

*Mr. Normand lives in Quepos

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