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Foreigners Must Be Legal Residents To Drive in Costa Rica

By Qcostarica.com

Rick and Lorraine have been coming to Costa Rica for the last ten years. Like good tourists they fueled the country’s top industry, tourism. And like many Canadian tourists, they fell in love with paradise.

Since their first arrival in Costa Rica, the couple made numerous visits, each time staying longer and longer. In 2007 their plans for the future to make Costa Rica home included the purchase of a lot in Guanacaste.

Last month their fulfilled their dream of living in paradise, making the final move to their adopted home, Costa Rica. In the process the couple applied for residency. Last weekend the visited the car show in Heredia and bought.

 

Having crossed off a number of items on their to do list, while in San José and with new wheels to sport, it was time for visit to the drivers licensing office in La Uruca.

Armed with the knowledge that 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, the couple set out to the La Uruca drivers license centre for the required few hours it takes for the process. Based on all the information published on getting a drivers license in Costa Rica, where even foreigners as tourists could obtain one, they were in for a big surprise: the laws had changed, required now is legal residency!

Typically, the process was simple, the drivers license from their home country, their passport indicating the entry stamp to verify that the application was within the 90 days visitor period, the medical exam and the fee.

That is what Rick and Lorraine had envisioned their chore for their morning. But, it didn’t go that way. The couple quickly learned that they were missing one very vital document, a cedula. The new traffic law that went into effect on October 26, 2012, now requires every foreigner – be it from the United States, Canada, Europe and Nicaragua just to name a few, requires legal residency. And the residency application is not valid

This was confirmed by Consejo de Seguridad Vial (COSEVI) officials and a post on the MOPT website
The legal residency requirement is no big deal for Rick and Lorraine and the thousands of others making or planning the move to paradise. The problem is in the timing, as it takes a year or more to obtain legal residency, but the traffic law allows only 90 days to driver on a visitor’s visa.

This unintended consequence of new the legislation leaves an entire class of foreigners, who in their zeal to become legal residents, abide by the laws of the country, are now being forced to either drive illegally (beyond their 90 days) or leave the country, thus becoming “perpetual” tourists, a condition the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería (immigration service) has been attempting to eradicate.

In practical terms, if the foreigners wants to continue to drive legal, he or she is faced with the burden of added costs of living, leaving the country every 90 days and an interruption to their life in paradise.

If one chooses not to do the travel thing, the exposure is a fine of ¢280.000 colones (US$565 dollars) and six (6) points on a yet ungotten license. For each occurrence.

In addition, the new traffic law also imposes a restriction on a foreigner leaving the country if they have unpaid traffic fines. The Ley de Tránsito requires the COSEVI to report to the immigration service any foreigner who has unpaid traffic tickets and the immigration to deny exit, either by air, land or sea.

Imagine getting to the airport, checking into your flight, paying the $28 exit tax, ready to board and the pulled off the flight by immigration officials and for having outstanding traffic fines. And if on a Friday afternoon, the wait is until Monday for the COSEVI to process the payment and Tuesday at the earliest for immigration to be notified?

The legal status requirement was included in Article 91 b)iii, which states: Acreditar su permanencia legal en el país, al amparo de la legislación migratoria vigente. For a link to the legislation go to Traffic Law Costa Rica.

This is no doubt a serious problem for many like Rick and Lorriane making or considering a move to paradise.

Harder to believe is that the requirement that was not discussed in public during the more than two years the new legislation was under study by legislatures. And until a few like Rick and Lorraine made their way to the drivers licensing office and then contacted the media was this known to the general public.

One COSEVI official who spoke to QCOSTARICA anonymously confirmed that licensing officials were aware of the requirement for months but it wasn’t until the beginning of this month, two weeks after the enactment of the law, that they received a directive to enforce the regulation.
What we are left with, as Rick and Lorraine are painfully living it, is that foreigners who do not have residency –cannot obtain a Costa Rica drivers license.

Although impossible to know how many will be affected and how, it certainly is to be in the thousands. And how many may just say ‘to hell with it’ and pass over Costa Rica?

One can understand the need for law and order. However, there has to be some common sense in the process. Either allow a residency in “tramite” (in the process) or shorten the residency process to at least less than 90 days.

Anything short of either becomes idiomatic of an unprofitable action motivated by greed. Greed by a government that is pulling at all the strings and overturning all the rocks to generate revenue.

Talking with Rick, he has not yet become disillusioned with paradise. He and Lorraine are not bailing out just yet. But, it has generated doubts in their minds about their choice of Costa Rica.

 

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There are Now 16 Real Estate Frauds in Nosara

Currently a criminal band is stealing or buying the properties they hire someone else to steal, pretending to be the legitimate owners. Only this year, by the end of the month of October, we learned of 10 cases, which give us an average of one per month.

Public Force and OIJ Deal a Blow to the Stolen Goods Market in Nicoya

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Presidency Published Gag Law Against Journalists and the Media

The Presidency of the Republic on Tuesday, November 6th published in La Gaceta the law that will punish journalists and citizens with up to 10 years in prison if they disseminate “secret political information.”

CONAVI Temporarily Stepped In Over Río Montaña Bridge

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New rules for vehicle technical inspection (RTV) in January

A police officer from the Fuerza Publica, driving while intoxicated, crossed into oncoming traffic and caused a head on collision with another vehicle, killing its driver.

Drunken Nicoya police officer kills driver in head-on collision

A police officer from the Fuerza Publica, driving while intoxicated, crossed into oncoming traffic and caused a head on collision with another vehicle, killing its driver.

Letter from the Editors
Celebrating Ten Years of Connecting Communities, and More to Come

For ten years now, the Voice of Nosara has been serving Nosara and the surrounding communities with the goal of connecting and uniting people—not just people in different towns but people of different backgrounds, nationalities and languages.

Citizen Journalists (THAT MEANS YOU!) Are Shaping the Future of Reporting

“Citizen journalism” has become a standard part of the way we gather and report news. But that was not always so.

Interview with Liza Vogt, Voice of Nosara’s First Publisher

Why was the newspaper started? 
VON was started for two reasons: to dispel many of the rumors that were constantly flying around Nosara and also to inform residents and tourists of current situations and upcoming events.

Most Talked About Stories

Our editors reviewed every print edition of The Voice of Nosara from October 2002 until September 2012 and chose the most talked about stories based on letters to the editor, comments made to reporters or on Facebook and follow-up stories.

The Most Repeated Themes During Ten Year

Our editors reviewed every print edition of The Voice of Nosara from October 2002 until September 2012 and counted how many articles were printed on each subject.

“They want to kick us out when we’ve lived here all our lives,”
Oscar Chavarría, resident of Garza

“I’ve lived here for 30 years and now they tell us that they want to annul our property titles and kick us out of our homes,” commented Oscar Chavarria indignantly. He lives in Playa Garza with his wife and daughter.

 

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