Apr 17 2017

Renewing Our Costa Rica Drivers Licenses: A Time-Saving Tip

We just renewed our Costa Rica drivers licenses for six more years. We’ve been in Costa Rica for eight years. It cost us 22,000 colones each for the renewal: 5,000 for the dictamen médico and 17,000 colones for the license renewal fee.

Our drivers licenses were due to expire on May 5, 2017. We were told we should start the process 90 days before expiration but we had been putting it off. On March 28th, we decided to at least start the process.

The Dictamen Médico we went to in San Ramón.

We live just a few blocks from a dictamen médico examiner, as well as from the department of motor vehicles (MPOT) in San Ramon. There are lots of dictamen médico offices close to MPOT, but there is a guy who directs traffic and tries to usher people into “his” dictamen doctor or local driving instructor (escuela de manejo). It’s his job. He’s been so helpful to us over the years that I promised him we would use his doctor when the time came, so we did.

The exam is required by law, every time you renew your license, so it’s once every six years. You have to present your cédula and current drivers license. The exam is quick, quick, quick. One might say it’s kind of, sort of, a farce. It takes about 10 minutes. They weigh you, get your height, take your blood pressure, check your eyesight, ask a few health-related questions, and verify personal information like your age, marital status, date of birth, and occupation. They will also ask whether or not you want to be an organ donor.

Paul getting his vision checked

Familiar eye chart

We paid the fees for both the dictamen médico and the license renewal and were given comprobantes (vouchers) for both. We started the exam at 2:30 pm and, 10 minutes later, we walked down the street to MPOT with our vouchers. We got there about 2:45 pm and we were dumbfounded. No one was there. The staff was there but there were no clients in the waiting area—very different from the first time we renewed our licenses, when it was packed with long lines.

This is what MPOT looks like on a normal day!

At first, we thought they were closed. But there was a reason no one was waiting in line. Watch our quick video tip on how to save time renewing your drivers license.

By 3:15 pm. we were finished, with our new Costa Rica drivers licenses in hand. The whole process, from start to finish, took 45 minutes. Glory hallelujah!


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