It’s Official! On May 7th, 2024, Legislative Decree N. 10470 was officially posted to “La Gaceta” — the Diario Oficial of  Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly, enacting the long awaited amendments to the Law on Traffic on Public Land Roads and Road Safety. The corresponding Bill of Law had been approved in second debate on April 2nd, and now it is finally in force.

These changes impact expatriates: those in residency process (“en trámite), short-term travelers, and the growing population of digital nomads who call Costa Rica their temporary home.

At Blue Zone Legal, we recognize the importance of demystifying these legislative updates. Our goal is to provide clarity on the amendments and their implications for you and others seeking to navigate these changes effectively.

And we are proud to share that the Assembly has chosen to make it easier for you to get around (no matter how you chose to spend your time in Costa Rica). 

 

The following is the original Blog posted about the amendments, which are now law. 

Please contact us if you have any questions, follow us on Instagram for all breaking updates, and stay informed with your newsletter.

Overview of the Legislative Changes

The recent modifications streamline the process for recognizing foreign driving licenses in Costa Rica, introducing several key updates:

Recognition of Foreign Driving Licenses: Clear guidelines have been established for accepting foreign driving licenses, benefitting tourists, long-term visitors, and residents with foreign origins.

Provisions for Tourists and Transit Drivers: Individuals in the country as tourists or in transit are permitted to drive vehicles as authorized by their foreign licenses, aligned with the duration of their legal status.

Holders of licenses equivalent to the Costa Rican B-1 type or higher are authorized to operate mopeds and motorcycles with certain restrictions based on engine displacement and power.

Guidelines for Residents and Long-term Visitors: Foreigners in the process of obtaining a migratory status (“en trámite”) or those with  migratory status already approved (including those on digital nomad visas), can drive using their foreign license upon obtaining a Costa Rican driving license. 

This is facilitated without the requirement of a minimum uninterrupted stay in Costa Rica (previously, a 90 days stay in the country was required).

Foreigners in the process of renewing their migratory status or with a pending request for change of category, can drive using their foreign driving license.

The process also mandates the foreign license to be valid and requires compliance with local laws for licensing, with specific exemptions regarding road education and practical driving examinations.

Special Considerations for Professional Drivers: The legislation introduces distinct requirements for foreigners intending to work as professional drivers in Costa Rica, acknowledging the equivalency of foreign licenses for professional driving roles.

Implications for Expatriates and Digital Nomads

After thorough review, the Blue Zone Legal team feels the expat and digital nomad community in Costa Rica will find the following changes particularly relevant. 

  • Ease of Transition: Simplifying the conversion of a foreign driving license to a Costa Rican one marks a significant reduction in bureaucratic hurdles, enhancing mobility.
  • Legal Clarity: The amendments provide much-needed clarity and certainty, enabling expatriates and digital nomads to navigate their new environment with confidence.
  • Professional Opportunities: Acknowledging foreign driving experience and qualifications broadens professional avenues for those considering driving as a career path.

Digital Nomads: Expanded

Blue Zone Legal CEO, Cristina Guerrini, recently joined Allen Richards of the Unbridled: Living in Costa Rica YouTube Podcast to dig deeper into how these amendments will affect driving for Expats in the country. And, digital nomads were a hot topic in this episode of “Is That Legal?”.

Lucky enough, if you’re a digital nomad — known for your flexible lifestyle that blends work with travel —  we’re sure you will find the updated legislation particularly beneficial:

  • Simplified Legal Framework: Digital nomads on specific visas can now seamlessly integrate into Costa Rica’s legal system concerning driving, thanks to the aligned driving privileges with visa timelines.
  • Mobility and Flexibility: Enhanced mobility is crucial for digital nomads, and the ability to legally drive upon arrival or visa approval supports this dynamic lifestyle.
  • Accessibility to Opportunities: The law’s provisions open doors for digital nomads to explore various income-generating activities that require driving, leveraging skills acquired globally.

Stay Up to Date with Blue Zone Legal

These amendments underscore Costa Rica’s commitment to inclusivity and mobility, catering to the diverse needs of its foreign national residents, including digital nomads and those in the process of obtaining temporary residency.

Blue Zone Legal is dedicated to ensuring our community is well-informed about these critical changes. Whether you’re navigating the roads of Costa Rica or considering your next steps in this vibrant country, we’re here to assist with your residency, immigration, corporate, and real estate needs.

If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to contact us here or via WhatsApp @ (506) 8627-6886. We’re committed to providing the support you need, when you need it because we are never to “BuZy” for you!

Feel free to view the English translated version of the amended law here.

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