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Drivers license after residency approved

I want to know the real lowdown on getting Costa Rica driver's license after residency is approved.

Do you really have to leave the country "one more time" after getting approved for residency?

What are the steps to take after residency is approved, to get a drivers license and how long does it typically take?
Any tips or tricks you can offer? Thanks in advance!
(Yes I can ask my attorney but he may not know the tips or tricks part and may not know how things work in the real world at this point in time. i.e. knowing the law doesn't always translate to knowing what the officials in charge actually do or don't do or how the government really works. One would hope he does but ... even in the USA I've found it to be true that they don't always know everything.)

You cannot apply for a drivers license until you have a cedula 'in hand'...and not just when you are approved...and your  time on your passport stamp, must be expired by a day or two.

We just went through this a few months ago.  You have to have your Cedula physically in hand.  You will need two copies, front and rear of your cedula with your physical address and telephone number written alongside or below.  You will need your valid original driver's license from your state or province, two copies front and rear.  Ironically even though you now have a cedula bring two copies of your passport as well as the original.  Here is where it gets tricky, you must be 91 days after your last stamp of entry in your passport.  (90 days and they turn you away).  This means that you are technically illegal driving to Cosevi.  Don't sweat it .... I did it three times!  You will need a dictamon (medical) prior to going to Cosevi.  I got mine done right outside the main gate to Cosevi (they asked me if I was healthy and could I see and whether I was right or left handed).  20,000 colones and you will get a number to pass along as it is online (good for six months).  There was an eye chart on the wall for decoration.  You go to the main door of Cosevi and it is beneficial to go Tuesday to Thursday at 7:45 (they open at 8:00).  There will probably be a fair amount of people there but don't despair, most of them are there for renewals so your line will be relatively short.  Everything is in Spanish and we managed just fine.  Follow the directions and follow the people.  You will go upstairs in groups of five and have a preliminary inspection of your documents.  About half the people do not make it through here.  If you get through you will have to go back to the main entrance and pay 5,000 colones at the wicket and then back into the Cosevi building.  Another stint in line to have your picture taken and back out to the bullpen to wait for your name to be called to actually accept your license.  You used to be able to park in the main parking lot out back but I was told two weeks ago that this has been discontinued so you will have to scrounge for parking.  Best of luck!

TerrynViv :

We just went through this a few months ago.  You have to have your Cedula physically in hand.  You will need two copies, front and rear of your cedula with your physical address and telephone number written alongside or below.  You will need your valid original driver's license from your state or province, two copies front and rear.  Ironically even though you now have a cedula bring two copies of your passport as well as the original.  Here is where it gets tricky, you must be 91 days after your last stamp of entry in your passport.  (90 days and they turn you away).  This means that you are technically illegal driving to Cosevi.  Don't sweat it .... I did it three times!  You will need a dictamon (medical) prior to going to Cosevi.  I got mine done right outside the main gate to Cosevi (they asked me if I was healthy and could I see and whether I was right or left handed).  20,000 colones and you will get a number to pass along as it is online (good for six months).  There was an eye chart on the wall for decoration.  You go to the main door of Cosevi and it is beneficial to go Tuesday to Thursday at 7:45 (they open at 8:00).  There will probably be a fair amount of people there but don't despair, most of them are there for renewals so your line will be relatively short.  Everything is in Spanish and we managed just fine.  Follow the directions and follow the people.  You will go upstairs in groups of five and have a preliminary inspection of your documents.  About half the people do not make it through here.  If you get through you will have to go back to the main entrance and pay 5,000 colones at the wicket and then back into the Cosevi building.  Another stint in line to have your picture taken and back out to the bullpen to wait for your name to be called to actually accept your license.  You used to be able to park in the main parking lot out back but I was told two weeks ago that this has been discontinued so you will have to scrounge for parking.  Best of luck!

Thanks for the detailed info!
Sounds like this could take all day!
How long did it take you?
Did you mean if you get through or if you don't get through you go back to the main entrance? This part of your post confuses me.
Why do about half the people not make it through and what happens if you don't?
Thanks!

Half the people have not shown up with the required documentation or are there before their 91 days are up so they get punted and come again another day.  It took me about four hours to get through but I made sure that I had my dictamon before going to Cosevi.

TerrynViv :

Half the people have not shown up with the required documentation or are there before their 91 days are up so they get punted and come again another day.  It took me about four hours to get through but I made sure that I had my dictamon before going to Cosevi.

Thanks for that clarification!

On a similar subject, what happens at the DIMEX apppointment before getting residency? We were told to bring passports and utility bill.
Any tips on this appointment? How long does it typically take, etc?

By DIMEX I am assuming that you are referring to your appointment at migracion for your Cedula?  We had an appointment at 8:00am, along with about 30 others.  It is a crap shoot as to when your name will be called, it could be 10 minutes or in our case, four hours.  We needed the three receipts that we paid at BCR, our resolutions (bring a copy also to hand to the guard that signs you into the waiting area), passports, and our first carnet receipt.  We brought our tax declaration to prove where we lived but it was not asked for.  After your name is called you will go to one of several wickets where they will sign you up and fingerprint you.  They will send you around the corner to the postal wicket where we paid (I think) 7,000 colones to have our Cedulas mailed to the Puriscal post office.  They arrived 8 days later.  Our process took about five hours but others were considerably shorter as they were called first.

TerrynViv :

By DIMEX I am assuming that you are referring to your appointment at migracion for your Cedula?  We had an appointment at 8:00am, along with about 30 others.  It is a crap shoot as to when your name will be called, it could be 10 minutes or in our case, four hours.  We needed the three receipts that we paid at BCR, our resolutions (bring a copy also to hand to the guard that signs you into the waiting area), passports, and our first carnet receipt.  We brought our tax declaration to prove where we lived but it was not asked for.  After your name is called you will go to one of several wickets where they will sign you up and fingerprint you.  They will send you around the corner to the postal wicket where we paid (I think) 7,000 colones to have our Cedulas mailed to the Puriscal post office.  They arrived 8 days later.  Our process took about five hours but others were considerably shorter as they were called first.

Yes, that's the one I'm asking about.

3 receipts? what receipts would that be, for what purpose? We have no bank acct here. Whatever it is that might have needed to be paid, our attorney paid it... ? I would assume...

Resolutions? Again, I know nothing of this. Is it possible our attorney has it?
We were told to just bring passports and utility bill.

Anyway thanks for the info on how long it takes.
If I bring a kindle or tablet will they allow us to use it while waiting? Is there wifi there or is phone/tablet use not allowed or provided for?
Can you bring magazine, newspaper, paper book or food?

Before you can go to migracion there are three payments to be made.  They are listed on page two of your resolution under section 2.  One is a $25 fee for the cedula application itself, the second is for Caja and  the third is the money that you pay that can be reclaimed if you ever become a citizen.  The three fees are $300, $98, and $25.  You will need all three receipts as well as your first Caja receipts payment (original).  We filed a protest because our application was taking so long and we won that protest so picked up our resolutions from migracion itself.  I can only assume that your lawyer would have your resolution and he cannot pay the three payments as the receipt MUST have your name and ID on them.   These are paid at BCR and it makes no difference if you have a bank account or not.   You will definitely have to bring the resolution if your lawyer is not attending.
You can bring anything you want, I do not know about wifi, and there is a cafeteria right across from where you will be waiting but if you are a couple I would suggest that one of you stays put.  If you are by yourself don't chance it as you will drop to the bottom of the pile.  I do not know what your lawyer offers as we pretty much flew solo for the migracion part of the process.  At that time our Spanish was very limited but we did just fine.  Politeness and lo siento goes a long way!

TerrynViv :

Before you can go to migracion there are three payments to be made.  They are listed on page two of your resolution under section 2.  One is a $25 fee for the cedula application itself, the second is for Caja and  the third is the money that you pay that can be reclaimed if you ever become a citizen.  The three fees are $300, $98, and $25.  You will need all three receipts as well as your first Caja receipts payment (original).  We filed a protest because our application was taking so long and we won that protest so picked up our resolutions from migracion itself.  I can only assume that your lawyer would have your resolution and he cannot pay the three payments as the receipt MUST have your name and ID on them.   These are paid at BCR and it makes no difference if you have a bank account or not.   You will definitely have to bring the resolution if your lawyer is not attending.
You can bring anything you want, I do not know about wifi, and there is a cafeteria right across from where you will be waiting but if you are a couple I would suggest that one of you stays put.  If you are by yourself don't chance it as you will drop to the bottom of the pile.  I do not know what your lawyer offers as we pretty much flew solo for the migracion part of the process.  At that time our Spanish was very limited but we did just fine.  Politeness and lo siento goes a long way!

Hi and thanks again for your info.
I think our lawyer must work different than you are familiar with, as we have had to do nothing so far except pay him and provide documents; and then attend a fingerprint session where someone picked us up and took us there and held our hand through that process which took about an hour.

We paid him and he pays the fees for us, so yes it appears he can pay our fees. This is a well known attorney and they seem very professional. It's been a "breeze" up to now and I hope I'm not "jinxing it" by saying so now!

Someone from his office is going with us to the meeting to apply for our DIMEX card or whatever it is.
I usually am on top of stuff like this, checking up on the "experts" but in this case I've let them handle it and I will continue to assume they are handling it correctly, as I have no reason to doubt it. ;-D

Thanks for all the detailed info. It's good to have some idea from a real world perspective what to expect. That's what I come here for - the stuff the attorneys and other experts don't bother to explain or some don't really know as they don't actually go to the meetings.

As to the DIMEX I understand part of the $423 x 2 (as i recall) is a deposit that one gets back at some point, right?
How much do you get back and when?

It is the $300 (x2) that you can apply for.  BUT you have to become a citizen, not just a resident, for this to happen.

TerrynViv :

It is the $300 (x2) that you can apply for.  BUT you have to become a citizen, not just a resident, for this to happen.

So 3-5 years from now we get back this money and only IF we become citizens?! Wow, that's hardly worth calling a "deposit" then! I thought maybe we'd get back some money Soon! Bummer...

Thanks for writing.
Interestingly our attorney already informed us of our CAJA payment. I thought we had to go to a meeting for that... but apparently not.
All this has taken less than 8 months - more like 7 - so I am very pleased so far with this process.

You are doing just fine.  Yes, you will get it back if you become citizens.  We wrote the money off as an insurance policy  :D

TerrynViv :

You are doing just fine.  Yes, you will get it back if you become citizens.  We wrote the money off as an insurance policy  :D

Thanks.
Yeah, we may as well write the money off. I would become a citizen if I wasn't worried about losing my soc. sec. Yeah, now you can still get it... but the way things are going in the usa I wouldn't be surprised if some day they try to cut us off for even living here, let alone becoming a citizen here...

TerrynViv :

[edit]  At that time our Spanish was very limited but we did just fine.  Politeness and lo siento goes a long way!

So what goes on at this meeting? Do they ask you personal questions about Costa Rica or your money or ? anything? or is it just verifying who you are etc?
What is the meeting "about" I guess is what I am asking. Do you remember any questions or content of this meeting?

For us everything had been done so it was just a matter of showing up and coming forth when your name was called.  No other questions that I can recall other than what I posted in post #10.
Cheers .... Terry

TerrynViv :

For us everything had been done so it was just a matter of showing up and coming forth when your name was called.  No other questions that I can recall other than what I posted in post #10.
Cheers .... Terry

Okay then... Case Closed! (hopefully it will be, and in our favor!)
Thanks for the help!

Anytime!  Let me know how you make out.
Cheers .... Terry

I am worried about the same thing!  I have 2 years to go before I can start drawing on S.S.  early, and plan on leaving the USA as soon as I can after I start.  I want to become a  C.R. citizen eventually, but will not do so if it means I'd lose my Soc Sec as that is what I will be living on. I had heard though that it is legal to have dual citizenship, Maybe that is incorrect, but I was told that it was deemed illegal or unconstitutional or whatever.   Since this is a few years off, I am not making any concrete plans as of yet. As it gets closer to time though,  should I do all the paperwork and submit after I start SS, or can I start the paperwork process before it would start?  If I have to wait until I can prove that I already have SS begun, then I suppose it would be almost another year before I'd be approved for residency.  Bummer :(

Christy

You must already be receiving your SS when you apply for residency as a Pensionado with the minimum amount of $1000 a month and have the paperwork to prove it. Note that this amount is not enough to live on.

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