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April 28th, 2009
From Tim May, 2014.
Some things in this blog post have changed but some of the post still may be of interest… so after reading it, you should visit the the main web site where current info can be found. Click here to read the latest.
Car owners every year must have their cars inspected. This is done by a private company, Reteve. Information here. There are locations all over Costa Rica and you must call first to make an appointment. The month of expiration is equal to the last digit on your license plate. Mine expired two months ago but when I went for the exam, I had a minor issue that needed to be fixed. Sadly, I let this go. Dumb.
So I was at the airport last week and sure enough, I get flagged down by a transit cop. I am thinking that a ticket is a forgone conclusion but, as I have made a new appointment for another inspection, I thought I had a slim chance of getting by. I DID, but the really important thing is that when handing me back my documents, he pointed out that my drivers license would expire tomorrow. He saved me just a world of hurt. While you do have some leeway in renewing it, if you let it go too far, you must start with driving school and then re-take the written and practical exams (in Spanish). While I do speak the language, the time lost would have been a disaster. So off I went yesterday to get my license renewed. If this topic interests you, read on!
For years, in order to renew your drivers license, you had to go to the MOPT facility in San Jose. The lines were long often taking 2-4 hours to get or renew a Costa Rica Drivers License (more details on that here). Not only was the process slow, just finding the stupid MOPT building was a problem. I have lived here for years and I still get lost trying to find that place! Well no more. New and renewal licenses are now issued from behind the Consevi building on the main drag through Uruca about 250M from the split at the Shell gas station. Easy to find, but very little parking. If you go, there is a little soda (small walk-up restaurant) right next to Consevi where you an park and eat if you wish.
In the USA and maybe elsewhere, your drivers license often expires on your birthday. Here no! It is the date you got it. This is why I failed to notice or think about it. Further, my license was good for seven years. 2002 is a long time ago and I just failed to check.
Renewing or obtaining a new license (presuming you have a valid unexpired license) is a three step process.
- Pay for the license in advance at any Banco de Costa Rica office. There is one near Consevi. There is also a payment window just inside COSEVI
- Get a physical exam and blood typing (see below)
- Take your payment receipt, your medical exam paperwork, and other documents to the licensing offices behind Consevi.
The first step is to pay 6,000 colones for the license. This is done at any Banco de Costa Rica or at the payment window. They give you a receipt and you must have this when you go to get your license or renewal.
The second step for either renewal or getting a new license is getting the physical exam. When the MOPT was the place to go, there were at least 10-15 medical offices within one block. Now there is just one that I could find, located maybe 150M from Consevi on the same road. Ask anyone. Easy walk. They just test your eyes, blood pressure and ask some standard questions. If you have medical proof of your blood type, the cost is 10,000 colones. If you do not, add 5,000 colones for the blood typing. I did not, so renewal for me was 25,000 colones, about $45.00. Ugh! Further, renewals are no longer for seven years. Now you must return in five years. Check out the web site for changes. Click here to read the latest.
After you have the medical exam paperwork, signed and ready, you return to Consevi, enter the property, then walk perhaps 300M to the back of the lot where the licensing facilities are located. You must have your Costa Rica license (or an unexpired license from your home country, your passport (or cedula if you are a resident), and your receipt from the bank.
Once inside, there are two line. The first is to get your data entered into the system. The second is to get a new photo. My total time inside was about an hour. Add thirty minutes for medical and I was done on about 90 minutes.
If you are 65+ go directly to the front of the line and show them your ID. Renewal time dropped to 15 minutes for me!
I understand that renewals can also be done at Banco Nacional, but the last time I heard, only Costa Rica citizens could do this because there was an issue with residency cedulas having too many digits in the ID. If anyone has done this, add that info in the comments below!Filed under Costa Rica, Drivers License Costa Rica, Driving in Costa Rica, Life in Costa Rica, Living in Costa Rica | Comments (37)