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Driver’s Licenses in Limbo

A lot has been said about the validity of entry stamps lately. As many of you know, people who entered the country between December 18, 2019, and November 30, 2020, are allowed to stay in

A lot has been said about the validity of entry stamps lately. As many of you know, people who entered the country between December 18, 2019, and November 30, 2020, are allowed to stay in the country until March 02, 2021. People who have entered the country from December 01, 2020, onwards, are allowed to stay depending on what is stamped on their passport and based on their insurance. Therefore, if you purchase insurance for 3 days, the entry stamp will say 3 days, meaning you can only stay for these 3 days. We have already reviewed the procedure to extend the entry stamps for up to 90 days.

However, many people continue to wonder about driver’s licenses. The situation is as follows: people who are allowed to stay until March 02, 2021, can legally drive until March 02, 2021. People who have entered the country since December will be allowed to legally drive as long as their entry stamp is valid.

This has always been the rule, what applies for Immigration does not apply for Transportation. Pre-Covid this was the norm. To legally drive you always needed to have a valid foreign driver’s license and a valid entry stamp on your passport. The situation now is the same.

Consequently, if you have been here since December 18, 2019, and/or if your Residency application has already been filed but it is yet to be approved, you are not allowed to legally drive unless you have a valid entry stamp in your passport. For many, that means that you will not be allowed to legally drive past March 02, 2021.

Please be advised that driving without the correct documentation, including driving with an expired entry stamp, will result in a fine and your plates could be taken. Furthermore, if you are here with irregular status, meaning you are not covered by the March 02, extension or past that date you have not at least scheduled an appointment to file for Residency or you are here as a tourist and your tourist days have run out, if caught by Transportation you could be referred to the Immigration Police.

Unfortunately, this is a result of the lack of communication between institutions. MOPT hasn’t announced yet any type of extension nor procedure to validate your entry stamp to drive legally in case of having a visa extension or an appointment to file for Residency or even if your Residency is filed.

If you wish to legally drive after March 2nd, you must do so carrying a valid foreign driver’s license and a valid entry stamp, meaning that must leave and reenter the country. To re-enter you will need to comply with the entry requirements mentioned here.

Remember that our land borders will remain closed until at least March 01, 2021. Only Residents and Nationals can cross the land borders, however, upon their return, they will be obliged to quarantine. If you need to depart and re-enter, keep in mind our tips for a border (air) run, mentioned here.

We continue to work to seek clarification on this matter and will publish any related updates as soon as we have them.

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ibrenes@outlierlegal.com

Attorney with more than 10 years of experience in customer service, team management and team building at an international level. Has worked immigration cases in various countries, including Costa Rica, Colombia and Panama.

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