You have made the move to Costa Rica, and you are all excited about starting a new life in a beautiful country. It is you new home! However, before you get to “Pura Vida” there is one thing you need to do. It is time to get your Costa Rica drivers license. So what do you do?
You will need to get your Costa Rica drivers license because your foreign license is only good for the same time as your last current passport stamp (90 days is the max). Here is a list of items you will need. If you don’t have them all, you will be denied and have to go back again. I know–I went through this process.
1) Your present license must be up-to-date and in good shape. Meaning it is not torn and everything can be clearly read on it.
2) You will need two copies of both sides of your license. They won’t make copies for you!
3) Medical check-up form: you can obtain this from many local area doctors that have been certified to perform the check-up. Heck, there is even a doctor’s office right across the street from the location in Liberia. But I advise doing it a day before or so.
4) Your present resident card or your work permit, that is still valid and not expired.
5) You will need two copies of your resident card or your work permit, both sides.
6) You will need to present your current valid passport showing you have been in the country legally for 91 days.
7) You will need copies of your passport that is issued from the same country as your foreign driver’s license along with copies of the last immigration stamp in your passport.
8) Have the required fee amount ready to go. Presently it is 5,000 colones.
With all the proper paperwork, your photo will be taken and a new Costa Rica drivers license will be issued on the spot. Well, on the spot is a relative term–you may have to wait an hour. Remember “Pura Vida”!
When I first got my Costa Rica license I had to go to the Central Valley to the licensing department which is part of COSEVI located in La Uruca. However, it is getting easier thanks to the General Directorate of Road Safety which provides the service. There are now 13 different location throughout the country and you do not need an appointment. They are Limon, Perez Zeledon, San Carlos, Liberia, Nicoya, Puntarenas, Rico Claro, Alajuela, Sam Ramon, Guapiles, and of course La Uruca.
You may be thinking “HMMM, I do not have a residency card yet. It hasn’t been issued yet”. Well, unfortunately to keep your current foreign license valid you will need to leave the country and come back to get a new 90 day stamp in your passport. Unfortunately, the Immigration laws and the transit law never took foreigners and this process into consideration.
Getting your Costa Rica drivers license can be frustrating, but in the long run it is just part of moving to another country and getting to know their laws and customs.
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