Tuesday 28 September 2021

Tourists (non-residents) will be able to continue legally driving in Costa Rica

Tourist stays in Costa Rica have been automatically extended to July 17, 2020

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Driving legally in Costa Rica for foreigners means one of two things, having secured a Costa Rican driver’s license or using a foreign driver’s license and passport while within the immigration determined time of stay.

Tourist (non-resident) who entered the country legally can stay and drive legally until July 17, 2020. In the photo, Policia de Migracion doing a spot check. Photo from DGME

During the national emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería Costa Rica (DGME) – immigration service – confirmed that foreigners under a tourist visa who entered the country after December 17, 2019, are automatically able to stay in the country legally until July 17, 2020, and thus drive legally up to that date.

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However, there can be an issue when stopped by a traffic official or “transito”. The confusion comes in that the traffic law does not permit a tourist (non-resident) to drive past the permitted legal stay.

For example, the tourist who entered the country on January 29, 2020, with a 90-day maximum stay, would legally be permitted to drive legally with their foreign license and passport entry stamp up to today, April 27.

However, the likelihood that a transito would issue a ticket for that is slim to none. While the Policia de Transito has not pronounced on this, President Carlos Alvarado, at the Sunday press conference, did say the country is “displaying great efforts to maintain a good image towards our tourists.

Yes, there still are many tourists in the country who came in prior to closing borders to foreigners on March 23. There are tourists who decided to stay in Costa Rica, rather than head back to their home country, while others have not been able to leave.

All of the above is developing. We will post updated information as it becomes available through official notifications.

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