I (Vicki Skinner - aka "THE Sarong Goddess") created this blog in 2007 to share DETAILED Finds•Lists•Info•Events•Experiences to help bring more EASE to people living in, visiting or thinking of moving to Costa Rica since DETAILS are NOT easy to find!
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Monday, November 5, 2012

NON-Residents NOW can NOT get Costa Rican Drivers License

 The REALLY BAD thing about this is as the law is written now, even people that have started their process for Residency and have their OFFICIAL paperwork filed with Migracion and have that proof - they STILL can NOT get a license!! Not till they have their OFFICIAL "Cedula" (like a Green Card) (which means they no longer HAVE to leave Costa Rica every 90 days as those of us on a Tourist Visa do).  ALSO, by LAW, you're SUPPOSED to have a Costa Rica Driver's License if you've lived here for 90 days or face fines if you're stopped by the TRANSIT POLICE (the ONLY police that can pull you over/give you a vehicle ticket fyi).  So what are these "in between" people to do as for us that leave every 90 days - we're still in that gray area of the law.  Hmmmmm!!!!  
As is often the case in Costa Rica - we sit back and wait!!!


NOW, the ONLY people that can hold a Costa Rica Driver's License are people that have a CURRENT•ACTIVE Cedula in their hot little hands!
 and it just be in good standing (I've been told that also means your CAJA is supposed to be current also - BUT - this IS Costa Rica!!). 

As of NOW (it IS Costa Rica) - they can NOT get a driver's license until you HAVE your cedula in your hot little hands!!  Which is NOT good as though once you have your number that your residency is in process (which could EASILY take a year++) and you do NOT have to leave Costa Rica every 90 day, per the LAW - if you are in Costa Rica for more than 90 days you "MUST" be in possession of a COSTA RICA drivers license!!!  So if you don't want to be stopped and given one of the infamous more expensive than in the U.S. tickets - theoretically you MUST LEAVE Costa Rica EVERY 90 DAYS!!!  (do they want to make it easy for people living in Costa Rica or what??)

Once it expires - basically - Sorry Charlie (though 1 person CLAIMED that they WERE able to renew it - but over 20 have told me they went down to renew and could NOT)
NOTE:  In January 2014 someone I know said she went to the Perez Zeledon (aka San Isidro de General) COSEVI office

You also MUST give them your email address when you are registering!!!! 

Contrary to rumors - at least so far, they are NOT canceling your license if you do not give them an email address.  Maybe they won't "send" you notification if you get a ticket or something (hahahahaha!!  Right - send you notification!!! Hey, miracles DO happen and places and people DO evolve!!)

Hmmm - I wonder if the reason they have changed the laws in Costa Rica on who can/can not have a drivers license has anything to do with - say - how it is in the U.S.???
This could have something to do with it.  It's from the list of requirements a person now needs to get a driver's license in Florida (it used to be SOOOO EASY to do!!!  No longer!!!):
where non-American citizens MUST provide amongst a few other things - their Certificate of Naturalization or Certificate of Citizenship and Evidence of Immigration Status:
"You must provide a current unexpired document issued to you by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) showing your immigration status, such as Form I-551, I-94, or I-766. If you are an international student or exchange visitor, you may need to provide additional documents, such as Form I-20, DS-2019, or a letter authorizing employment from your school and employer (F-1) or sponsor (J-1). We CANNOT accept a receipt showing you applied for the document. If you are not authorized to work in the U.S., we can issue you a Social Security card only if you need the number for a valid non-work reason. Your card will be marked to show you cannot work and if you do work, we will notify DHS. See page 3, item 5 for more information." 



Foreigners MUST be LEGAL (NOT in-process) RESIDENTS to get a DRIVERS LICENSE in Costa Rica

Rick and Lorraine have been coming to Costa Rica for the last ten years. Like good tourists they fueled the country’s top industry, tourism. And like many Canadian tourists, they fell in love with paradise.
Since their first arrival in Costa Rica, the couple made numerous visits, each time staying longer and longer. In 2007 their plans for the future to make Costa Rica home included the purchase of a lot in Guanacaste.
Last month they fulfilled their dream of living in paradise, making the final move to their adopted home, Costa Rica. In the process the couple applied for residency. Last weekend they visited the car show in Heredia and bought a car.
Having crossed off a number of items on their to do list, while in San José and with new wheels to sport, it was time for a visit to the drivers licensing office in La Uruca.
Armed with the knowledge that a foreigner who had a valid driver’s license from his or her own country could obtain one in Costa Rica without the need to take a written exam or a driving test, the couple set out to the La Uruca drivers license centre for the required few hours it takes for the process. Based on all the information published on getting a drivers license in Costa Rica, where even foreigners as tourists could obtain one, they were in for a big surprise: the laws had changed, required now is legal residency!
Typically, the process was simple, the drivers license from their home country, their passport indicating the entry stamp to verify that the application was within the 90 days visitor period, the medical exam and the fee.
That is what Rick and Lorraine had envisioned their chore for their morning. But, it didn’t go that way. The couple quickly learned that they were missing one very vital document, a cedula. The new traffic law that went into effect on October 26, 2012, now requires every foreigner – be it from the United States, Canada, Europe and Nicaragua just to name a few, requires legal residency. And the residency application is not valid enough.
This was confirmed by Consejo de Seguridad Vial (COSEVI) officials and a post on the MOPT website.
The legal residency requirement is no big deal for Rick and Lorraine and the thousands of others making or planning the move to paradise. The problem is in the timing, as it takes a year or more to obtain legal residency, but the traffic law allows only 90 days to drive on a visitor’s visa.
This unintended consequence of new the legislation leaves an entire class of foreigners, who in their zeal to become legal residents, abide by the laws of the country, are now being forced to either drive illegally (beyond their 90 days) or leave the country, thus becoming “perpetual” tourists, a condition the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería (immigration service) has been attempting to eradicate.
In practical terms, if the foreigners want to continue to drive legally, he or she is faced with the burden of added costs of living, leaving the country every 90 days and an interruption to their life in paradise.
If one chooses not to do the travel thing, the exposure is a fine of ¢280.000 colones ($565/U.S. dollars) and six (6) points on a yet unreceived license. For each occurrence.
In addition, the new traffic law also imposes a restriction on a foreigner leaving the country if they have unpaid traffic fines. The Ley de Tránsito requires the COSEVI to report to the immigration service any foreigner who has unpaid traffic tickets and the immigration to deny exit, either by air, land or sea.
Imagine getting to the airport, checking into your flight, paying the $28 exit tax, ready to board and the pulled off the flight by immigration officials and for having outstanding traffic fines. And if on a Friday afternoon, the wait is until Monday for the COSEVI to process the payment and Tuesday at the earliest for immigration to be notified?
The legal status requirement was included in Article 91 b)iii, which states: Acreditar su permanencia legal en el país, al amparo de la legislación migratoria vigente.
This is no doubt a serious problem for many like Rick and Lorriane making or considering a move to paradise.
Harder to believe is that the requirement that was not discussed in public during the more than two years the new legislation was under study. And until a few like Rick and Lorraine made their way to the drivers licensing office and then contacted the media, this was not known to the general public.
One COSEVI official who spoke to QCOSTARICA.com anonymously confirmed that licensing officials were aware of the requirement for months but it wasn’t until the beginning of this month, two weeks after the enactment of the law, that they received a directive to enforce the regulation.
What we are left with, as Rick and Lorraine are painfully living it, is that foreigners who do not have residency –cannot obtain a Costa Rica drivers license.
Although impossible to know how many will be affected and how, it certainly is to be in the thousands. And how many may just say ‘to hell with it’ and pass over Costa Rica?
One can understand the need for law and order. However, there has to be some common sense in the process. Either allow a residency in “tramite” (in the process) or shorten the residency process to at least less than 90 days.
Anything short of either becomes idiomatic of an unprofitable action motivated by greed. Greed by a government that is pulling at all the strings and overturning all the rocks to generate revenue.
Talking with Rick, he has not yet become disillusioned with paradise. He and Lorraine are not bailing out just yet. But, it has generated doubts in their minds about their choice of Costa Rica.


New rule on Driver's License BARS expats "in the process" and "Perpetual Tourists" from getting one!

The new traffic law prevents foreigners from obtaining a Costa Rican license until they have a residency cédula in hand.

This is another of those apparent unintended consequences of new legislation.

New expat Jerry Embry of San Isidro de El General found this out Thursday, and a detailed check of the new traffic law shows that his account is correct.

The legal change that just took effect means that persons who apply for residency cannot obtain a Costa Rican driver's license until the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería gives them an official cédula.  Embry said he found out that workers at the driver's license bureau in La Uruca would not honor paperwork from immigration that says he already has applied as a pensionado.

The legislation also prevents so-called perpetual tourists from obtaining a local license.

Embry, who speaks Spanish, is the former chief mate on the research vessel JOIDES Resolution.

He retired in January.

Until now, a foreigner who had a valid driver's license from his or her own country could obtain one in Costa Rica without the need to take a written exam or a driving test. Even foreigners in Costa Rica as tourists could obtain one.

Typically those who sought residency here would obtain a Costa Rican license quickly even before they filed paperwork with immigration.
Now an entire class of foreigners, those awaiting approval of their residency status, can either risk a significant fine for driving without a license or leave the country every 90 days to renew their tourism visa in order to keep their curent license valid. In the past, once an expat filed for residency he or she was free of the need to renew their tourism visa by travel.

Because of the weekend, traffic officials and lawmakers were not available to explain why they made the change.

The specific part of the new traffic law is under article 91 (b) iii, which establishes requirements. The section says that a foreigner soliciting a Costa Rican license by virtue of having one in his or her home country must have legal residency here. Presumably that could be pensionado, rentista or any one of the many residency types listed in the immigration law.

This was a condition that was not discussed in public during the two years when the new legislation was under study in the Asamblea Legislativa.

What is left unsaid is if foreigners who do not have residency will be able to renew the licenses that they already have acquired.
(SOURCE:  AMCostaRica.com)


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