Do you need to be a resident, to get a CR drivers license?

My USA drivers license expires this October, 2016. I am wondering if I can get a CR drivers license and not worry about my USA drivers license.

You MUST present your valid US driver's license and your Cedula (temporary or permanent) in order to get a Costa Rica driver's license.

Thanks for the information. Maybe in a couple months or so, I can come visit you. The first of May, I am moving to Hermosa, Puntarenas. I am thinking that, I will be closer and be able to visit.
Thanks again,

You also cannot get a Costa Rica drivers license unless you are a legal resident (i.e. went through the process/paper work and received legal residency.

I am applying for rentista residency, but of course, it takes almost a year to get that approved. In the meantime, can I show the proof that I have applied? Will that suffice to get a driver's license? Otherwise, I'm going to be stuck here for about 9 months not able to drive, not even a rental car.

You are legal to drive on your foreign driver's license for 90 days after the last date stamp of entering Costa Rica irregardless of the number of days written in your passport.  This is documented on the Cosevi website.  What we did for a year after we arrived here, had our comprobante, but did not have our cedula, was to exit every 90 days to reset our foreign driver's license.  If you are stopped for anything they will want to see your passport AND the last entry date to prove your legality.
Cheers .... Terry

The reason I am applying for residency is so I don't have to be bothered with those border runs every 90 days.  Guess I won't be driving then. Thanks for answering.

Contact Martin @ smityrojas[at] Tell him Mae suggested him. The best Tico to know and speaks perfect English. If you are coming to the San Ramon area, you will want to ask him about residency assistance. Excellent, reliable, and invaluable in many services.

Be sure to renew your home country's drivers license for the longest period possible prior to moving to Costa Rica.  When you arrive in Costa Rica you will enter as a tourist visa. 

Your home countries drivers license will be valid here for the duration of visa. 

Typically 90 days.  You will have to renew your tourist visa to keep your home country's drivers license valid. Applying for a legal status does not qualify you to obtain a Costa Rican drivers license. 

Only upon receiving your legal status and waiting 90 days can you then apply for a Costa Rican drivers license.

For further details feel free to contact us **

I know some who drive on an international drivers license. You may look into that also.

An International driving permit is/will not be legal either, if your passport is not valid....  Nor will your vehicle insurance.

More info here on driving legally in Costa Rica

only if you are a temporary or permnent resident mike   the laws have changed over the years

I've been a resident for quite some time now, so I am not sure if the law might have changed on this. But before I was a resident I had no problem getting a driver's licence by simply showing my valid license in the U.S. and my U.S. I said, I don't know if maybe this has changed over the years...but the answer use to be NO...

It has MOST CERTAINLY changed.  We had to do Nicaragua runs for 22 months in order to drive here.  It changed roughly three years ago!

did not know that...


Thanks for clearing that up...I've been a resident now for many years and back when I wasn't...that was not the case...but it's important for me to know about this, again, thanks!

Pura Vida!

Ok wait, now I am confused...take a look at this article from … s-license/

This is a 2015 article and it states as follows, "Current passport with entry stamp of no more than 90 days OR residency cedula OR any other document that proves legal residency or temporary residence permit."

This really confuses me because I am a realtor with Coldwell Banker in Dominical and we have two agents, neither of whom are residents, and both have driver's licenses...

When did this law change?


here's another article, but a bit older... … -s-license

Your non-resident agents  are probably  'perpetual tourists' who got their CR drivers license before the rules changed

For more info on what you now have to do...

We have many "Snowbirds" in our community that have Costa Rica driver's licenses.  They all got their licenses more than three years ago when you did not need to show a cedula to obtain a driver's license.  In effect they are grandfathered into the system as all you need to renew a Costa Rica driver's license is to show the old one along with the passport that it was registered against.  If the person has gotten a new passport then there is a whole new department that gets involved.

That makes sense. This law must have changed very within the last year? I believe it was a really dumb move...makes life harder for people wanting to move to Costa Rica because getting a residency by any other means than marriage is a long and arduous process...

This was implemented 2-3 years ago. An article written in Dec 2013.

We have been here since September of 2014 and it was in effect before that as we tried on one of the trips while building our house.  Here is an article written on December 16, 2013 and it was already in effect.


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