Homologation of Drivers’ Licenses
Expats who apply for one of the Immigration Categories featured in our Immigration Law receive, at the end of their immigration process, a local ID card. This local ID card is the DIMEX, Documento de
Expats who apply for one of the Immigration Categories featured in our Immigration Law receive, at the end of their immigration process, a local ID card. This local ID card is the DIMEX, Documento de Identidad Migratoria para Extranjeros generally referred to as cedula.
People who receive their DIMEX card are allowed to process what is known as the homologation of their drivers’ license, meaning validating a foreign license to secure a Costa Rican one. The homologation saves you the trouble of having to take the local written and driving tests to receive a Costa Rican drivers’ license. This is stipulated in article 91 of Law 9078.
Securing a Costa Rican drivers’ license is essential once a DIMEX card is issued. The DIMEX card is your local identification. If stopped by the Police, you must present your DIMEX. Hence, as a DIMEX cardholder, you need to secure a local drivers’ license as you are no longer a tourist.
Tourists cannot homologate their drivers’ licenses, unfortunately. To legally drive, tourists need a valid foreign drivers’ license and a valid stamp on their passports.
Here are a few important bits of information pertaining to the procurement of a local drivers’ license:
Requirements to Validate a Foreign License
1. Valid DIMEX (cedula) original and copy.
2. Passport original and copy.
3. Valid foreign driver’s license original and copy. If the driver’s license is in a foreign language it must be translated into Spanish by a translator of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A wonderful client informed us that Transportation demands for the foreign drivers’ license to include a Classification or Class (Class A, B, C, etc.) on it to be accepted. In Costa Rica, for example, A is motorcycle, B1 is automobile, B2-B4 is trucks, etc.
If you have a drivers’ license from a country different than your country of origin, you will also need to present the document that proves that you had legal status in that country such as the Green Card, ID card, visa, work permit, etc. That document shall also be translated, just in case.
4. Have stayed in CR for more than 3 months and 1 day consecutively. Meaning if you have exited and entered the country, you must wait until your visa stamp has passed the 91 days.
5. Medical exam (in Spanish it is called dictamen médico para licencia). This is just a simple medical exam for which the doctor will ask you some questions about your health and an eye exam. They will give you a number for this medical exam result and that number will be valid for 6 months.
6. License fee is ₡5000. This is paid once the homologation is approved.
7. In case there is doubt about the legitimacy of the license and/ or the license does not comply with the standards of the driver’s license of the country of origin, a certificate issued in the country of origin, its Ministry of Transportation, or the Embassy will be required. transport ministry or embassy must be presented.
8. In case of a difference in surnames due to marriage, an original marriage certificate and two copies must be presented.
You can review the requirements, in Spanish, here: https://www.educacionvial.go.cr/Proc-Req/Acreditaci%C3%B3n_Conductor/Paginas/Requisitos.aspx
An appointment must be scheduled to process the homologation. Appointments are scheduled online here.
You must select Documento Migratorio to be able to enter your DIMEX number. It is extremely hard to secure an appointment considering that availability is currently limited.
Our good friend Howard Blum shared the following tip:
“They release the available appointments on Thursday morning only. I was told that they are released at 8:00 AM. Last week I went to the website and 8:00 AM and all the appointments were already gone.
This morning I logged in at 7:45 AM and was able to get an appointment.”
Howard’s advice is essential, make sure that you go online early on Thursdays to make sure you secure an appointment.
If you have any tips you would like to share, please let us know and we will include them in this article to help the expat community.