With all the scuttlebutt, rumors, and gossip about the effects of the new traffic laws, especially pertaining to driver’s licenses, we thought we would present one factual experience of an actual visit to the MOPT (DMV, Department of Motor Vehicles) in San Isidro, Perez Zeledón. This true case involves an expat with residency to renew a recently expired (just short of three months) Costa Rican driver’s license.
The MOPT document shown below is very clear and states that in order to obtain a vehicular license, among age limits, types of vehicle’s differences, soundness of the vehicle in which the exam is to be given, a CÉDULA is required. What that means is that no more drivers licenses given to those individuals not holding a cédula, period. No more licenses issued just on a valid passport and valid driver’s license from another jurisdiction. Also, even though one might have a valid cédula, if the driver’s license from another jurisdiction has expired, one must take both the written and the driving exam all over again. So, if a perpetual tourist (extended over the 90-day period allowed on a tourist visa) gets caught without a valid license, he can be fined and his vehicle impounded. However, the worst part is that any insurance that might have been in effect before, whether paid for and up to date or not, will not be valid. You don’t want to take a chance with this; it will be enforced.
Another effect of the new law is that the license A-4 is no longer being issued. Before, this was for motorcycles or ATVs over 600 cc’s. Now the top license for this type of vehicle is A-3, for anything 500 cc’s or above. So, make sure all of your paperwork is in order, seat belt on, helmet, and reflective outerwear 24/7 on a motorcycle or ATV, and no drinking and driving, and you’ll have nothing to fear from a routine stop by Los Transitos.