If you want to get a Costa Rican driver’s license, this guide will tell you how to do it STEP BY STEP with exact details and costs. I recently did it by myself without a lawyer, right after I received my Costa Rican residency and it was a simple process.
How to Get a Costa Rican Driver’s License: Who is Eligible?
Tourists can not get a Costa Rican driver’s license, only residents and citizens can get a Costa Rican driver’s license.
Once you have received your Costa Rican residency, you can homologate your foreign driver’s license. This means you can use your driver’s license from your home country to obtain a Costa Rican driver’s license without taking the driving test as long as you receive approval from the Dirección General de Educación Vial and validate your driver’s license.
I had to go to Liberia twice due to the fact that you need an appointment at COSEVI for homologation approval and an appointment at BCR to validate and receive the actual license. I was very lucky to be able to get in all done within 24 hours but just be aware that you may not be able to get your license right away due to the separate appointment requirements at Cosevi and at the BCR.
Requirements to Homologate Your Foreign Driver’s License
All official requirements are here: https://www.educacionvial.go.cr/Proc-Req/Acreditaci%C3%B3n_Conductor/Paginas/Requisitos.aspx
- Appointment at COSEVI to approve the homologation
- Proof of your legal permanence in Costa Rica: DIMEX, work permit. You will need your cedula in good condition.
- Must be at least 18 years of age
- Your original driver’s license you want to homologate. It must be valid and in good condition.
- Your passport that must be valid and in good condition
- You must have remained in Costa Rica for a period greater than 3 months and 1 day consecutively, starting from your last entry into the country. This must be demonstrated with your passport (entrance and exit stamps) or you must get a certification of your exits/entries from the Immigration Department
- If your driver’s license is from a different country that is not your nationality of origin or birth, you need to prove your legal stay in the country where you obtained the license (residency, work permit, refugee card, social security or passport)
- Medical certificate (dictamen medico) which is valid for 180 days
- If the driver’s license is not in Spanish, you must get it officially translated into Spanish.
- Validation and payment of the license fee at BCR after approval (6000 CRC)
- If your last name is different due to marriage, you must present an original marriage certificate (translated into Spanish)
- For those who wish to get a C-2 license by homologation, you must take the course of public transport
- In case there is doubt of legitimacy of the driver’s license or it does not meet the safety/security standards, the certification must be presented and issued by the Ministry of Transportation or the corresponding Embassy
Getting an Appointment at Cosevi
Important: You can only homologate your license after being in the country for more than 3 months and 1 day. I received my Costa Rican residency in May and my last entry into Costa Rica was June 15th. I made an appointment for September 14th, the 91st day since my last entry. Technically, I think it’s supposed to be on your 92nd day since they say after 3 months plus one day, but I had no problem with my appointment being on my 91st day (Liberia office).
To make an appointment, you must go onto this website: https://servicios.educacionvial.go.cr/Formularios/SolicitarCitaTramite. They are only doing appointments from 7 AM to 12 PM on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Sometimes it may say there are no appointments available but keep checking in the mornings as they normally release appointments around 7-8 AM and show available appointments one to two weeks out. I made my appointment for the 14th on September 1st.
This is what to enter to find appointments
Tipo de Identificacion: Documento Migratorio
Identificacion: Your ID number, should be 12 numbers. Once you enter it, then you’ll need to enter your name, phone number and email.
Tipo Tramite: Cita homologacion licencia extranjera
Tipo Licencia: I chose B1 since I only need the license for lightweight vehicles.
Then accept the terms, click Continuar, then it’ll ask you to choose your location and then it’ll pop up the calendar of available appointments. You only have something like 5 minutes to confirm your appointment.
Once you confirm your appointment, make sure you download the PDF confirmation. You cannot change your appointment once you’ve made it.
What I Brought to My COSEVI Appointment
- Official translations of both my driver’s license and passport
- My original driver’s license (USA)
- My Costa Rican cedula
- My dictamen medico (health assessment certification)
I also made color copies of my dictamen medico and my translations to have back ups for my personal use.
For my translations, I found an official translator online. It cost 11,300 CRC per document plus a 3000 CRC shipping fee. I scanned my driver’s license and passport, sent them to her via email, paid her via SINPE and I received the translated documents with the stamp and receipt 4 days later.
For my dictamen medico, I made an appointment at my local medical center in Villarreal where I live. It cost 21,800 CRC and was very easy. I Whatsapped them on September 3rd and made my appointment for September 12th. The medical assessment is valid for 180 days.
Something important to note is that foreign drivers licenses are only valid for 90 days from the last entry so you will need to have someone drive you to your homologation appointment to do everything by the book. There is a bus stop right outside the Cosevi office so you could take the bus to Liberia and get off there.
You have to arrive at least 10 minutes early to your appointment. I arrived around 30 minutes early and they let me in. If you are going to the Liberia office, then you need to go to the Cosevi Direccion General de Educacion Vial. This office is across from Hotel Santa Ana, here is the map. It is about a 1.5 hour drive from Tamarindo. Do not go to the Cosevi that’s close to downtown Liberia off the Interamericana highway1.
Once you arrive, check in with the security guard who will look for your name on the list and let you inside. Then you need to go to the waiting room until they call your name.
Once they call your name, you’ll be led inside the building and into the office of the person in charge of approving the homologation. He’ll ask for your documents (translations, cedula and dictamen medico) and you just have to wait until he finishes entering your information in.
Then he’ll send you to the office next door where that man will then ask you for the translation documents to enter your driver’s license information. Then I went back to the first office where he stamped my file and said I was done. He told me that now I had to go to the BCR to pay the fee, get my picture taken and receive the actual license. He kept all of my official documents, you don’t get those back.
This appointment went by very quickly, it didn’t take me more than 40 minutes including the waiting time. I checked in at 9 AM and was out by 940 AM. My appointment was for 930 AM.
Validating Your Driver’s License at the BCR
You can only validate your license (pay the fee and get the actual license) after you are approved and it’s by appointment only so my recommendation is when you make your appointment at COSEVI, check the BCR website right after to see if you can get an appointment the same day or around the same day so you can get your license as soon as possible.
These appointments go super fast. I was really lucky to get an appointment in Liberia the next day because when I checked Santa Cruz and Nicoya, there weren’t any available appointments until November. Cañas did have appointments in September still.
Here is the BCR website to make appointments: https://www.bancobcr.com/wps/portal/bcr/bancobcr/personas/servicios_personas/punto_pais/
- Click Ver detalle under Cita para Licencia
- Click Solicite Aqui su cita
- Seleccione el servicio: Citas Licencias/Pasaportes
- Seleccione el Topico: Licencias Residentes
- Identificacion (your DIMEX ID number)
- Seleccione el Tramite: Licencia por Homologacion
- Seleccione una provincia: (I chose Guanacaste as that’s where I live)
- Seleccione una sucursal: Select your location you want to go to (I chose Plaza Santa Rosa Liberia)
Once you select your appointment date and time slot, enter your information, hit confirm and they will send you an email confirmation.
My BCR Liberia Appointment
On the day of my appointment, the bank called me in the morning to push my appointment up from 340 PM to 1 PM which worked great for me. The BCR in Liberia is the one in the Plaza Santa Rosa, location here.
I arrived around 1250 PM, waited until 1 PM and then the security guard called me inside. I gave my cedula to the lady in charge of doing the driver’s licenses and waited until they called my name.
Once they called my name, they asked for my cedula and I had to sign some papers. I also had to pay 6000 CRC in cash and then they took my picture. I signed a couple other papers and then she handed me my license. Easy peasy!
I hope this guide on how to get a Costa Rican driver’s license was helpful for you and now you’ve learned how to homologate your driver’s license in Costa Rica by yourself – NO lawyer needed!
Don’t forget to check out our following guides about driving in Costa Rica which you can find below.
Hi Sammi! This was really helpful thank you so much I could not have done this without your guide here. Question. I was able to grab an appointment HOWEVER I made the appointment with my passport versus DIMEX. Appointments were not populating when I entered my DIMEX but as soon as I did my passport instead, tons of appointments were available. Weird. Will that be an issue do you think? Everything else was entered the same (tipo tramite cita homolagacion licencia extranjera).
Secondly, once you receive the approval, can you drive with your passport and driver’s license while you wait for your BCR appointment? My cita is next week, but the soonest BCR appointment was not until May for any and all locations near me….
Hi Anna, to be honest I do not know, that is purely up to them. Maybe it will be OK maybe not, I can’t say.
If you can drive will depend on when your last entry into CR was, because foreign drivers license are valid for only 90 days.
The appointment process is now a scam. Somehow, insiders are able to scoop up all of the appointments before they become available on the website. You literally cannot get an appointment without paying someone who has illegally taken them. Clearly, it’s an inside job. I have been trying for months to get an appointment and was given the phone number of one of these scammers by the guard outside the cosevi office. When I called, she offered me an appointment for about $50. No thanks!
That has a big problem unfortunately, it’s been on the news many times and those people take appointments and charge people for it, so ridiculous. I’m lucky I was able to get appointments on my own and close together, but I checked religiously everyday the few weeks leading up to the end of my 90 days. Hope you can get one.
Our lawyer who did a phenomenal job with our DIMEX was able to legitimately score appointments for us. However, there are no BCR appointments available for nearly three months! One step forward, two steps back.
You may check for all the offices, the smaller offices in less populated towns had way more appointments and earlier ones than the bigger cities. LIberia was out for 3 months but Canas had appointments the same day. Good luck!
I checked everywhere. No luck. It’s a good thing I live in a “walking distance” town. My vehicle is staying parked until late May.
Yikes, probably also cause it’s high season right now. Good luck!
Thank you for this post! I have received my residency approval and have the DIMEX appointment booked in April. Meanwhile, do you know if I can make the drivers license appointment using my foreign passport? I will have the DIMEX / cedula number when the drivers license appointment arrives. Am just trying to avoid doing another border run and re-starting the 91 day clock. I’d appreciate your insight. Thank you!
I’m pretty sure they can only do it with your DIMEX number, because tourists are not allowed to get drivers licenses, only residents and they require your DIMEX card to make an appointment.
RON SAGER says
I heard you need to register your Residency card (Dimex) with Cosevi before you can get an on line appoint??
Well you have to present your cedula to Cosevi during your appointment with them
I was wondering – is the name on your cedula/dimex different than on your drivers license? When I married my Tico I changed my name in the USA. My lawyer applied for my residency under my birth name – so now it will be different than my passport and my drivers license. I am not sure they should have used that name or my married name….still waiting for my residency approval…but looking for someone who has maybe had this same situation. Thanks all! Pura Vida!
Hi Corey, if your last name is different due to marriage, you must present an original marriage certificate (translated into Spanish)
David Handy says
When my wife and I got our health exams, we received automatic text message that read:
Estimado Usario: Los datos del dictamen realizado son los siguiertes
Cedula: (Cedula number)
Codigo dictamen: (7-digit number)
There is nothing linkable on the message. What do we do with this?
I got that text as well and they also sent me an email confirmation which is what I printed out, the doctor should have asked you to input your email address for an emailed copy but they will ask for the codigo dictamen
I was finally able to get COSEVI appointments for my wife and me after trying for a week. I then logged onto BCR but found absolutely no appointments available in my area until after Jan. 1. I was, however, able to get appointments for both of us (10 mins apart) in the last week of December.
This means it will be 3 weeks between COSEVI and BCR. I thought I had read somewhere that if you complete COVSEVI and have proof of your appointment with BCR that you can drive in the meantime – just showing you have an upcoming appointment with BCR.
Do anyone have any insight on this? I would hate to not be able to drive for 3 weeks.
I thought that too because in the past, I had heard you can go right after. I actually did go to the BCR right after my COSEVI appointment just to check and they told me it is not possible any more 🙁 You have to make an appointment at the BCR in order to pay and validate the license to get it, so you have to make two separate appointments
Thank you so much for this valuable information.
I just picked up my cedula yesterday and will now procede with my license. I am so excited.
Love your monthly newsletter.
Congrats and hope you can get your license soon!
Melissa Nelson says
Thank you!!! This is so helpful!!! It’s so crazy that we need to wait 91 days….just nuts! Seems like if you have residency you shouldn’t have to wait until you can’t drive. I jump through all the crazy hoops and smile! I’m greateful to live here.