Region, COVID-19

I am a foreigner in Costa Rica. What can I do if I didn’t get my driver’s license on time?

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On January 11, The Road Safety Council (Cosevi- Consejo de Seguridad Vial) ended the extension period to get equivalent Costa Rican driver’s licenses for foreign residents and refugees living in the country. The institution had extended the deadline for this process due to the COVID-19 health crisis, but time is up.

After this date, any person who did not get an equivalent to their foreign driving document will not be able to drive until they obtain their Costa Rican license. If they do, they’ll receive a fine of ¢23,000 (about $38) and the vehicle’s license plates will be removed. According to the traffic law, no foreigner who has unpaid traffic fines will be able to leave Costa Rica.

In March 2020, the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (MOPT) closed offices that process driving-related procedures due to the first cases of COVID-19 in the country, pausing all procedures for citizens and residents. Three months later, in June, the institution set up a virtual platform to make appointments for procedures.

People interested in going through the process to get an equivalent license had to go to the Cosevi website on Thursdays at 8 a.m., when appointments for the week were released.

However, in the weeks leading up to the deadline, the site experienced technical issues that prevented people from carrying out this procedure. This was reported to The Voice of Guanacaste by Lani Daniels, an American reader who wasn’t able to get her equivalent Costa Rican license on time.

In answer to her inquiry, the Cosevi press office stated that the site did reach user capacity during that period “due to the health crisis.” However, they won’t extend expired licenses any more because residents and refugees “had enough time, more than six months, to carry out the procedure.

If the equivalent license hasn’t been approved, the resident has to start the first-time licensing process in the country. An appointment to take the written exam can be made at this link. To do so, you’ll need a valid identification document and a digital medical report. Due to high demand, this process can take a few weeks.

On the other hand, foreigners who entered Costa Rica as tourists between December 17, 2019 and November 30, 2020 will be able to use their foreign license until March 2, which is the last day that people with that status who haven’t processed another type of visa will be able to remain in the country legally.