Costa Rica News – It is getting harder and harder to get normal things done in Costa Rica. Getting a bank account and geting a driver’s license now requires the prerequisite of having to have your Costa Rican residency.
When I went to get my Costa Rican license it was really easy, though really time consuming. Good thing I waited for 6 hours, because now it’s too late to get one! No longer can you just show up with a foreign license, a few dollars, get an onsite medical exam, take your picture, and get a new Costa Rican license.
Under the new law foreigners cannot get a license until their residency is finalized which can take over a year. They also may not drive after their 90 day visas expire. That leaves a gap which can last about 9 months where foreigners may be allowed to stay here but not drive!
What can happen if you choose to drive without a license? You may be fined 280,000 colones, or about $565 along with 6 points on the license when and if you ever get it. The new law also imposes the threat of not allowing a foreigner to exit the country without paying traffic fines. If you show up at the airport expecting to get out of it it could cost you days. Say it is a Friday afternoon. It will be Monday before COSEVI can process the payment and Tuesday by the time immigration is notified and you are allowed to leave the country.
If you are a resident the process to get a license is easy. For about 30-50 dollars you can get a vision, blood, and general health checkup to bring to COSEVI in La Uruca. It should take about 3 hours to get through the lines and stations. Foreigners may only go there between 8 and 11 a.m. You will need copies of your passport and residency card (3 of each) and your original license (with copies as well). The actual license will cost only $8 and will be valid for three years.
This is all information you should take into account when deciding to move to Costa Rica and the risks that you incur by driving without a license.