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BCR Begins Issuing Driver Licenses and Passports

July 27th, 2007

Costa Rica has certainly never been known as efficient and this most assuredly includes private business.Generally, the policy here is to find the least convenient, most time consuming, most paper wasting, most resource expending way to do something, then do it with the most people all while making you wait in the longest possible lines. It is this alone that droves A types to consider suicide.

However, whether it is the Arias administration and the now famous “Gobierno Digital” or is just progress, Costa Rica seems to be making improvement in a number of areas. One is the issuance or Drivers Licenses and Passports by 30 branches of the Banco de Costa Rica (BCR). As passports are only available to citizens of Costa Rica, this will not affect the majority of expats living here, but the drivers license thing is pretty cool as that is certainly a requirement of living in Costa Rica and the current system pretty much meets all the criteria mentioned above.

Users simply have to call the bank for an appointment. As BCR is most assuredly not know for bilingual support, you better have a grasp of Spanish. Clearly this is good for BCR as they can offer their bank services to thousands of potential clients.

They claim they can handle 1.000 customers daily which seems reasonable given the number of banks offering the service. To make an appointment (cita) you call 800-BCRCITA or 800-227-2482

The cost of a new drivers license that is valid for a two year period is ¢5.000 colones and ¢10.000 colones for a renewal of five years and ¢5.000 colones for a duplicate copy, the same cost at the driver license centers. If you have any outstanding traffic fines (multas) you have to pay them and the late fees if any.

You still need a medical certificate, which can be obtained by any doctor filling out the proper form. Outside the driver license center (MOPT) in San José, a zillion doctors have set up offices providing those medical exams for a flat fee of ¢5.000 colones. I suspect that some of these offices will start to appear near BCR banks offering the license services. Until then, I guess you still have to get it from a private doctor or go the the MOPT.

CR is trying, but hasn’t quite got it all working… yet!

In the case of passports, the document will not be issued at the bank. As passports are printed by the Dirección de Migración y Extranjería on special equipment, you still have to pick it up at immigration or for an additional $5, you can have it mailed via Correos de Costa Rica (post office). Now THAT would be scary!

The BCR branches offering these service are:

Alajuela: Alajuela centre, San Ramón, Mall Internacional, Cubujuquí (Heredia) and Cenada; Limón, Limón centre, Guápiles and Siquirres; Cartago, Cartago centre and Turrialba; Guanacaste, Cañas, Nicoya, Liberia and Filadelfia; Puntarenas, Puntarenas centre (ciudad), Jacó, Quepos, Ciudad Neily and San Vito; in the province of San José, San José downtown central offices, El Carmen, Vasconia, Desamparados, Plazoleta, Aranjuez, Guadalupe (Goicoechea), San Antonio de Coronado, San Rafael de Escazú, Paseo Colón, San Marcos de Tarrazú and Villa Ligia.

This post is copyrighted 2007 by The REAL Costa Rica Blog and may not be used in any form without permission.


10 Responses to “BCR Begins Issuing Driver Licenses and Passports”

  1. Lynn on September 4, 2007 2:33 pm

    You cannot be a pensionado and use BCR to renew your license. Your cedula is supposed to have 6 digits, my pensionado has 9, therefore I can’t use this service!

  2. Francesca on April 11, 2008 3:18 pm

    I just rung the BCR number to get an appointment to obtain my first costa rican driving licence…the automatic message at the start says the service is available only to costa rican citizens

  3. Tim on April 12, 2008 5:58 am

    I am fairly sure I covered that in this Blog… BCR can only accept cedulas de identidad. Any foreign residency card has more digits than their system will accept.

  4. Lesa on June 8, 2008 9:51 pm

    Can visitors, volunteering here and staying 3 months at a time, doing border hops (overnights in another country then back in) to keep a valid visa, apply for and get a valid CR driver’s licence?

    Do we still need to go to San Jose to apply? (this looks like 07 info) or can we apply at BCR in San Isidro (Perez Zeledon)?

    I’m working with a start up non-profit project in San Isidro and just agreed to continue with them for another year. I’m working on getting out of a cell phone contract in the US and the stipulations are that I either have a physical address, electric bill or valid drivers licence in CR and they will let me out of the rather expensive contract w/o charge… Thanks in advance for your reply.

  5. Jeff McGough on June 10, 2008 11:18 am

    Yes you can get a CR drivers license. You must get your first in San Jose. You will need to get a medical exam, present your US license and a passport. No test if you have a valid DL.

  6. Douglas Walters on March 20, 2010 8:45 pm

    I do not have a driver license.Can I get one in costa rica

  7. francis oquest on September 2, 2014 1:37 pm

    I just renewed my CR license that was expired in January. No problem. Had to go to Paso Ancho to get new information ( New Residency card number) put into the system. but I am 65 yrs and they took me right up front and the process was painless. Way easier than the California DMV, and fast. I had the new license in 5 min. Finally something they got something right.

  8. Tim on September 3, 2014 6:34 am

    Thanks for the comment. I had to go to Paso Ancho also… not exactly convenient. I do wish they could just update files at the same location for license renewal. Oh well…

  9. Norman Siegel on October 7, 2014 2:54 pm

    Now I am confused. I got my cedula as a pensionado, and have a valid license from the US. Can I still go to BCR to get the first license here?

  10. Tim on October 8, 2014 6:16 am

    Nope… For first time you need to go to Cosevi in Uruca.

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