Life in Limon – Dealing with Costa Rica’s Government is Easy and Fun Here

Renewing a Costa Rica drivers license, changing residency status and getting a vehicle inspection are all things that are easier in Limon. There are simply fewer people. This means fewer people that are in a hurry, fewer people to cut in front of you and less stressed out employees.

Renewing my License

My Costa Rica Drivers License was set to expire this month. I had forgotten about it until a conversation with some friends, during my vacation in Puerto Viejo. I remembered how daunting it was to head to San Jose (Uruca) and deal with the traffic, parking and *Gavilans

*Gavilans, hawks in Spanish, are typically young guys who stand outside of Gov’t offices looking for people to take advantage of. They tell you that the doctor that gives you the eye test necessary to get your license is only a short cab ride away and then calls on his cab driver friend to give you a quick $5 ride. Seems nice right? Well there are 5 doctors offices right across the street from where you were, you just didn’t know it. Hustlers might be another way to describe them.

In Limon, there are no Gavilans, there is no traffic and there is no problem with parking. In fact, the only problems I incurred were finding the damn place and turning right quickly enough before a semi-truck pushed me off the road. The office is located off of Route #32 very close to the major ICE power facility. You may or may not see this sign.

Limon license bureauYou will need to stop at the Doctor in the bus first. The bus that the doctor is in sits just outside of the official chain link fence. The doctor in the bus will ask you if you wear glasses, how much you weigh and measure your height.  He clicks away at a computer while you are there and then sends to you to your next destination with a slip of paper and $40 poorer. Don’t complain, Mercedes aren’t cheap here!

Bus Doctor

Drive through the gate directly behind you and turn left. The MOPT (Ministry of Public Transportation) building is pretty obvious. Go to second door. The first is for the drivers exams and you WILL have to go through this if you let your license expire. It is not recommended.

License renewal Limon

Things you need:

Current Unexpired Drivers License

Doctors Report (Dictamen)

Receipt from Bank for $6.00 payment – (Go to your closest bank as there is no way to pay this fee on location. In the future there may be a bank in a bus but there is just no way to know. Tell the teller that you want to pay the tramite for your license and they know what to do)

**The only thing to be aware of is that if your DL was issued with your passport number bring your residency approval letter with you. MOPT wants your cedula number on your license now.

My new license is valid for 6 years!

Changing Residency

Our three years of temporary residency (rentista) are almost up. We can now apply for permanent residency and relieve ourselves of proof of income letters, changing money and skyrocketing health insurance rates. We needed to find out exactly what was necessary to make the switch so we went to the authority, the regional immigration office in downtown Puerto Limon.

Limon immigration office

Again I had memories of San Jose and traffic, parking and long lines, but look THERE IS NO ONE HERE! This cute little, newly painted, refurbished, 3 bedroom is our immigration office. There is a spacious waiting room that uses natural light to caress all 15 chairs. When we entered there were 4 people waiting and lucky us 2 of them were just resting in the shade.

immigration office Limon

The cute girl with the great nails told us that if we already had three years of temporary residency then we could apply for permanent up to three months before our actual renewal date.

We needed:

A personal letter (in Spanish) to the Ministry of Immigration (Direccion de Migracion y Extranjeria) with our cedula #’s, passport #’s and reason for wanting permanent residency.

$200 per person, paid in advance to the immigration account

600 colones each (I think for stamps)

*Do not sign your letter in advance. You must sign in front of the immigration official when submitting your request. .

Car Inspection; Riteve

And just look at our Riteve location! No appointment needed. I admit that this picture was taken very close to closing time but even so they let me in to ask a question. I have seen Riteve locations that have 7 bays and all of them with a line of cars waiting. Not in Limon where the living’s easy.

Riteve Limon

Thank you to Tom for the directions. You could have kept the secrets for yourself but you were kind enough to share.

7 comments on “Life in Limon – Dealing with Costa Rica’s Government is Easy and Fun Here”

  1. Laura Reply

    Wow! It’s my hometown…it’s great to hear a foreigner saying something good about it!

  2. Shaun Hurst Reply

    I’ll let CIA know that Costa Rica is ready for democratic change from it harsh socialist regime

  3. Joseph Reply

    Wow! When I read the title I thought you were kidding! It’s great to hear you had an easier time doing all these important things, Kim.

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