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Pay for play: The underground business of Costa Rica license appointments

A series of reports from Teletica have detailed the illicit business involved in securing an appointment with Costa Rica’s Roadway Safety Council (COSEVI).

Every month, thousands of Costa Rican citizens and residents complain they cannot get an appointment for a license procedure on the platform administered by COSEVI. This is in part because an illegal business of selling appointments moves millions of colones a month, Teletica found.

In many cases, Costa Ricans decide they have no choice but to pay an unknown third party between 10,000 and 30,000 colones (up to about $50) for access to an appointment.

Some appointments are even advertised in the comments sections of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MOPT) Facebook page. MOPT says it can’t delete those comments due to free-speech concerns.

COSEVI has denied reports that so-called gavilanes are hoarding and reselling appointment slots, but MOPT says it may file criminal complaints against those suspected of the activity.

You can watch the first episode in the Teletica series below:

One of the most-common COSEVI procedures for new Costa Rica residents is the homologation of their foreign driver’s license so they can operate a motor vehicle here.

For a homologation appointment, you must make an appointment. Click here to do so (though, of course, there may be no appointment slots available).

Here is what you’ll need to have: 

  • Your foreign driver’s license. It must be unexpired and in good physical condition. Also bring two photocopies of the front and back of it. 
  • Your cédula or residency card, which must be in good standing. Also bring two photocopies of the front and back. 
  • Your passport, which must demonstrate you’ve remained in Costa Rica for at least three months and one day. Bring two photocopies of your passport (including the photo page and the page with your entry stamp).* 
  • Results of your medical exam, or dictamen medico. This can be completed in the 180 days prior to your trip to COSEVI in clinics across the country, many of which are concentrated around COSEVI offices. 
  • A translation of the foreign license, if it is in a language other than Spanish (yes, even English). The translation must be from an official translator. Click here for a list. 
  • Original marriage certificate (and two copies) if the surname(s) on the license differs from your legal name.

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