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Costa Rica allows more tourist driver's license benefits

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Published on Monday, June 3, 2024
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The modifications to Article 91 of the Traffic Law make it simpler for foreign tourists residing in Costa Rica to obtain driver's license homologation, after being signed by President Rodrigo Chaves.

This homologation is a printed certification that works the same as having a driver's license issued in Costa Rica.

The act eliminated the requirement that a tourist has to spend more than three consecutive months in the country to get driver's license certification.

The new rule also eliminated the prerequisite that international visitors with a tourist visa to drive with their own driver's license for a maximum of three months.

That condition allowed driving for just three full months for the majority of foreigners (who do not have resident status) was discriminatory, given that the legislation currently provides tourist visas for 180 days.

Now individuals with tourist visas and foreigners with residency status (known as DIMEX), are allowed to request their driver's license certification at the Road Safety Council facilities (Cosevi).

Depending on the country of origin, there will be a request for requirements to finish the certification process. Citizens from non-Spanish-speaking nations, such as the U.S., UK or Canada, must have a valid ID, a driver's license, a current passport with a tourist visa that has not expired or a current DIMEX ID.

These documents, which were originally issued in English, must be provided with a Spanish translation certified by a Ministry of Foreign Affairs-accredited translator.

The website of the Ministry of Public Transportation's General Directorate of Road Education includes a complete list of prerequisites (in Spanish).

However, the system for granting appointments for this type of procedure will only be activated on the last five business days of each month. For example, in June, the appointment request system will be activated from Monday, June 24 to Friday, June 28.

That certification should be first requested at Cosevi, in San Josť or any rural offices. The appointment is requested by filling out a Spanish-language form only available on the Cosevi website.

People can also request an appointment by calling 9000-626-353 or 2227-5158.

After that procedure is approved, the individual must request the printed document at any of the offices of Banco de Costa Rica. This certification fee is about $10 which must be paid at the bank after the driver's license has been issued.

Also,  foreigners with a tourist visa are allowed to drive for a maximum period of 180 days, if they own a legal driving license issued in their country.

In September 2023, a Presidential Decree allowed tourists a 180-day stay Visa. That modification doubled the time allowed before, which was 90 days.

What has been your experience with getting a driver's license certification in Costa Rica?
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