Renovación de Licencia

otherwise known as Driver’s License Renewal, a chore on top of my to-do list after our recent return to Costa Rica. My license expired three weeks before we came back, so Barry had to do all the driving, as I’m chicken regarding illegal activities in countries, in which I can’t adequately express myself. It’s one thing to talk myself out of a pickle in either German or English, but in French, or heaven forbid, in Spanish – ain’t happenin’!! 

I feared, we might have to drive into San José to the main MOTP offices in La Uruca, to renew my license, since my original license was issued based on my passport – back, when the CR government still granted driver’s licenses to foreigners without residency status. My new license will be issued in conjunction with my cédula, the local I.D.. Driving through San José traffic is not something I relish to do, neither is waiting in long lines at the country’s main facility for all things automotive. 

Thanks to the advice I received from Ms. Pat Wegener, founder and administrator of the ‘Atenas Costa Rica Info’ forum y gurú de todas las cosas costarricense, we didn’t have to tackle big city chaos. The much more convenient Cosevi* Office in San Ramon took care of my renovación in 45 minutes flat and that included parking ridiculously far from their office. I’d say, the actual renewal process took about 30 min. The Cosevi officials, their guard, the money lenders, ah, receivers of fees, and the multitude of ‘guides’ in the vicinity, everyone was very courteous, helpful and patient.

*the Cosevi website provides a wealth of useful information, including license renewal.  

San Ramon is a beautiful 30 min drive from Atenas, más o menos, along a truly gorgeous mountain roads. The majority of ruta 135 from Santa Eulalia to Palmares is newly resurfaced and a pleasure to drive – and the views are spectacular! From Palmares you take la Panamericana for the last few kilometers to San Ramon. The Cosevi offices are located on the eastern end of Avenida 11. Google maps or waze will take you there, if you plug ‘MTOP San Ramon’ into your smart phone app. Should that fail, type in ‘Hospital Carlos Luis Valverde Vega’, drive N on Calle 1 and turn RIGHT on Avenida 11, rather than left to go to the hospital. Cosevi/MTOP is at the very end of Ave 11.

You’ll know right away that you’re in the right neighborhood, when you approach the intersection of Calle 1 & Ave 11. Men in reflective vests will swarm your car like benign wasps, ever so helpfully directing you: 
A. to a parking spot right there (don’t park yet) 
B. to one of a multitude of medical offices, or so one hopes, where you can obtain a dictamen medico (bring one) 
C. to one of a multitude of ‘banking options’, for example in a convenient store, where you may pay the fee for your renewal (don’t pay yet).

I had my medical exam here in Atenas a day earlier and brought the dictamen medico, or rather the Código Dictamen written on a piece of paper, with me. The código is the code number in the ‘Servicio Digitales para Médicos Colegiados’ system, which allows Cosevi to access your medical exam electronically. 

Not knowing precisely, where Cosevi is located on Ave 11, we allowed one of the helpers to direct us to a parking spot near Calle 1, well ahead of the office. At least we got a good workout walking back and forth! Next time, we’ll drive along Ave 11 till it curves left and downhill and park right in front of Cosevi. 

I paid my renewal fee at a soda counter on Calle 1, but there are more options to pay, closer to the office, including right across from Cosevi. I believe, that’s the ‘garage bank’ Pat mentioned in her report. Since my driving record is point free, I only paid ¢5000 for a six year renewal, plus ¢1000 to the banker. If you have accumulated more than 4 points, the renewal is for only 4 years and will cost ¢10 000.

Outside the Cosevi office, I handed my cédula, old driver’s license, código dictamen, payment receipt & passport (as my old license is based on my passport) to the guard and took a seat in the first group of chairs. 

Very soon the guard motioned us inside to the second set of chairs outside the office of El Jefe. Here, the officer entered all sorts of information into his computer, asking confirmation on some data and chatting about nationalities and statistics as they relate to driver’s licenses issued in San Ramon. At least, I think that’s what we were discussing. After signing three documents, he gave me all my I.D.s back and I was done with the paperwork.

Next we were ushered to the third set of chairs, to wait for biometrics. That too, was swiftly accomplished and I could happily drive forth with my brand new CR license, which, strangely, displays the picture of some unknown old woman. 

4 thoughts on “Renovación de Licencia

  1. How strange… Similarly, an old unknown woman showed up on my new driver license as well. Now that I think about it, she also appeared on my new cedula. Hmmm…this is scary, very scary.:-0

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  2. Bwa ha ha! We're going to be going through this soon too! I tried to read your post as if through the eyes of someone who has never been to Costa Rica before, and thought that it must boggle their minds. Now that we have been here three years, it seems perfectly normal!

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