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An updated guide to validate your foreign license in Costa Rica

What a joy is to receive your DIMEX! We know that after receiving your DIMEX (Costa Rican ID for residents), the steps in Costa Rica get easier, because the legal stay in the country is

Validation of a foreign license in Costa Rica

What a joy is to receive your DIMEX! We know that after receiving your DIMEX (Costa Rican ID for residents), the steps in Costa Rica get easier, because the legal stay in the country is extended and immediately the status of tourist, changes to temporary or permanent resident, as well as all other stays and permissions of extension that the Immigration Department offers.

Although having a DIMEX makes life in the country easier for many foreigners. There are other procedures in public institutions, that you should carry out after becoming an official Costa Rican resident. For example, the validation of your foreign driver’s license.

How can I validate my driver’s license in Costa Rica?

From Outlier Legal Services, we provide all our clients with a guide to the process of license validation in Costa Rica.

First of all, it is important to take into account that the validation of a foreign driver’s license refers to when the Dirección General de Educación Vial (the institution in Costa Rica in charge of the driver’s license process) provides you with a national license that is equivalent to your foreign license (as long as it meets the requirements of international laws).

The requirements are as follows:

  • Be at least 18 years of age for a driver’s licenses type B1 (light-duty vehicles).

  • Make an appointment at the following COSEVI (Consejo de Seguridad Vial) offices from 7:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M. (depending on the day the regional offices are available for this procedure, for example, if you call to make an appointment for Heredia, then you will receive tha appointments only for Tuesdays).

    • Heredia (Tuesday)

    • Liberia (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday)

    • Puntarenas (Tuesday)

    • Alajuela (Wednesday)

    • San Ramón (Wednesday and Thursday)

    • Guápiles (Thursday)

    • Limón (Tuesday and Wednesday)

  • Or, they can go to the San José office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays from 7:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M. However, it should be taken into account that there is a high demand for any procedures, so there is a possibility that it may not be possible to get an appointment for the same day.

  • Proof of legal permanence in Costa Rica, in the case of foreigners with the DIMEX, residency card and work permit, everything has to be in good condition.

  • The driver’s license to be validated must be valid and in good condition.

  • Passport, should be valid and in good condition.

  • To have stayed in Costa Rica for a period of more than three months and one day, consecutively after the last entry. It must be demonstrated with the Passport or a Certification of entries and exits of the country issued by the Immigration Department (DGME), when required.

  • The foreigners who have a driver’s license from a country other than their country of origin or birth, must legally prove their stay in the country where they obtained the driver’s license (residence, identity card, work permit, refugee application or passport).

  • They must bring a medical certificate to get the new license (180 days of validity).

  • In case the driver’s license is in a language other than Spanish, you must bring the official translation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in case they do not have an official translator of that language, the corresponding Embassy will have to do it.

  • Pay the driver’s license fee (₡6,000 colones) in the Bank of Costa Rica (process explained below), until the homologation process is completed and authorized by the headquarters.

  • In case of doubt about the legitimacy of the driver’s license or that it does not comply with the standards and safety levels according to the Traffic Law of the country, a certification of the driver’s license, issued by the Ministry of Transportation or the corresponding Embassy, must be presented.

  • In case of differences in surnames due to marriage, the original marriage certificate and its translation if it is not in Spanish language, must be presented.

  • In the event that drivers with a foreign license apply for a license higher than B1, their record should be validated with the foreign license. In order to comply with the record requirement for these licenses, the foreign license must indicate the date in which they obtain that category and comply with the required years of experience, otherwise, a certification of the issuance of the license and the category to be validated in the country, must be provided.

Validation of a foreign license in Costa Rica

What’s next?

After presenting all the mentioned requirements at COSEVI a d getting your validation approved, the process must be completed in a period of no more than six months at the Bank of Costa Rica (BCR) by paying the fee of ₡6,000 colones and having your photo taken there, in order to receive your Costa Rican driver’s license immediately. Thus completing the process.

For underage foreign users (the age of majority in Costa Rica is 18 years old) who have a driver’s license or driving license from any country, it will not be validated in Costa Rica according to the international conventions.

Final advice

Thus, after receiving your DIMEX, do not forget to validate your driver’s license, so that you can reside and drive throughout Costa Rica, without the need to leave and enter the country, in order to maintain the validity of your foreign driver’s license. The process of validation of the license can take a few hours, with the due delivery of your Costa Rican driver’s license immediately.

We remind you that Outlier Legal Services offers the service of homologation of licenses in Costa Rica and is willing to answer any questions you may have about the process.



Ana Paula Peñaranda serves as a Lead Immigration Client Services Assistant at Outlier Legal. She is currently studying International Affairs at the Universidad Latina and Business Administration at the Costa Rican Technological Institute (TEC). Responsible, diplomatic and respectful, Ana Paula has also assisted International Organizations Models and Simulation Programs as General Secretary.

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