The legislation also prevents so-called perpetual
tourists from obtaining a local license. Embry, who
speaks Spanish, is the former chief mate on the
research vessel JOIDES Resolution. He retired in
Until now, a foreigner who had a valid driver's
license from his or her own country could obtain one
in Costa Rica without the need to take a written
exam or a driving test. Even foreigners in Costa
Rica as tourists could obtain one.
Typically those who sought residency here would
obtain a Costa Rican license quickly even before
they filed paperwork with immigration.
Now an entire class of foreigners, those awaiting
approval of their residency status, can either risk
a significant fine for driving without a license or
leave the country every 90 days to renew their
tourism visa in order to keep their current license
valid. In the past, once an expat filed for
residency he or she was free of the need to renew
their tourism visa by travel.
Because of the weekend, traffic officials and
lawmakers were not available to explain why they
made the change.
The specific part of the new traffic law is under
article 91 (b) iii, which establishes requirements.
The section says that a foreigner soliciting a Costa
Rican license by virtue of having one in his or her
home country must have legal residency here.
Presumably that could be pensionado, rentista or any
one of the many residency types listed in the
This was a
condition that was not discussed in public during
the two years when the new legislation was under
study in the Asamblea Legislativa.
What is left
unsaid is if foreigners who do not have residency
will be able to renew the licenses that they already