I recently published an update on extending entry visas to Costa Rica from 90 to 180 days. Great news that had been long-awaited. (decades).

I also mentioned that through strenuous urging by the Costa Rica Ministry of Tourism, the Costa Rica government is working with the Transportation Ministry to liberalize the validity of foreign driver’s licenses to accommodate tourists and foreign residents better. IE: Eliminate the need for onerous border runs to keep licenses valid – not just in the case of the new 180-day visas – but under other various conditions as well.

There is a proposal on the table through the initiative of the ICT (Ministry of Tourism) and presented by Deputy Congresswoman Carolina Delgado Ramirez. (Expediente (Case) # 23.940). 

The entire preamble and proposed law were also presented in the government publication La Gaceta on October 12, 2023. La Gaceta is where new proposals must be published to allow for any legitimate challenge. In this case, political opposition threatens to delay this excellent proposal. We will observe and keep you updated.

Here are the main PROPOSALS of interest to the majority of you readers. 

Any foreign driver’s license would be deemed valid for much more extended periods, depending on the type of legal status in Costa Rica. 

  1. If you are here as a tourist on a 180 visa stamp, then your foreign driver’s license will remain valid for 180 days. (Maximum visa length). The same goes for any visa stamp for fewer days. 
  2. Digital Nomads will continue to enjoy foreign driver’s license validity for the entire year from the date of their approval. 
  3. If you applied for legal residency, your driver’s license would remain valid until you are approved and receive the DIMEX card. There would no longer be a need to do any more border runs to keep your license valid.
  4. Once your application for legal residency is approved, you will then be able to homologate your foreign driver’s license. (Convert to a Costa Rica driver’s license). The current 91-day waiting period following the issuance of the DIMEX (residency) card would no longer be required. You would be free to apply for a Costa Rica driver’s license after receiving those cherished DIMEX (residency) cards. 

In the meantime

Please know that your foreign licenses remain valid for only 90 days.

FYI: There are different types of police and police vehicles here in Costa Rica. The dark blue pick-ups, as pictured below, are the Transit Police, who handle traffic issues. (They also show up on motorcycles and in a few white SUV’s for supervisory personnel. Also pictured below). 

Always carry a copy of your passport and your foreign driver’s license with you. If you are driving your own vehicle, also be prepared to show proof of ownership and insurance. Or the same for a rental. IE: Be fully prepared to respond affirmatively to: “License, ownership, and insurance, please.”