Exchanging a Foreign Driving License

Information on who can exchange their driving license for a Costa Rica one, and the steps to follow if you have to exchange your license...

As of October 2012, legal residency is now required for those wishing to exchange a license in Costa Rica. It is no longer sufficient to be in the process of applying for residency, and a residence certificate (cédula de residencia) is required.

The following documents are required in order to exchange a foreign driving license for a Costa Rican one:

  • Medical certificate (dictamen médico), no more than six months old, which includes information about the applicant's blood type
  • Original valid license
  • Passport with valid entry visa
  • Receipt for payment
  • Residence certificate (cédula de residencia)

The first step to exchange a license is to go to a local COSEVI licensing office and get the paperwork so that the license fee can be paid for at a branch of Banco de Costa Rica.

A medical certificate (certificado médico para licencia de conducir) must also be obtained from an authorized doctor. The test consists of an eye test and a blood pressure test. Further tests for blood type are taken if necessary.

Once the applicant has the medical certificate and payment receipt, they should go to an authorized regional licensing office (Sede Regional de Licencias) with the original valid license and passport.

The main licensing office in Costa Rica is at La Uruca in San José.

    : La Uruca, San José
    : 2257 7200 / 2257 7006 / 2257 7018
  • Find further information and contact details of other official licensing offices by region (in Spanish)

The whole procedure for exchanging the license can take a couple of hours. Licenses can be valid for two years after the initial exchange, and must then be renewed. After renewal, they are valid for five years. The expiry details on the license should be checked.

License Renewal

Applications for renewal are dealt with at COSEVI in La Uruca or at a regional licensing office. The license can be renewed up to three months before expiry. The following documents are needed:

  • Old license for renewal
  • Passport or identification
  • Medical certificate (dated within the last six months)
  • Receipt of license payment
  • Residence certificate (cédula de residencia) or other proof of legal residency, for example a temporary resident permit (permiso temporal)

There is a fee for the renewal and the license is valid for five years. It is not advisable to let a Costa Rican driving license expire, as the holder is required to re-take the tests in Costa Rica as a new driver.

Drivers aged 65 or over must renew their driving license annually.