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IDP is essential when driving abroad

driving abroad with idp

International Driving Permit (IDP), regulated by the United Nations, certifies that you are the holder of a valid driver's license in your country of origin.

documents needed for international driving permit

Your IDP is a valid form of identification in more than 150 countries worldwide and contains your name, photo and driver information in the 12 most widely spoken languages in the world.

How to get your IDP

01

Fill in the forms

Have your driver’s license and delivery address handy

02

Verify your ID

Upload pictures of your driver's license

03

Get approved

Wait for confirmation and you’re ready to go!

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Do I need an International Drivers License for Costa Rica?

An International Driver's Permit in Costa Rica is not mandatory. However, it is highly recommended because of its multiple benefits. If the language of your native valid drivers’ license is not recognizable to the authorities, it might not be considered valid. Hence, the International Driver's License - Costa Rica English translation will be beneficial.

An International Driver's Permit (IDP) or an International Driver's License is an interpretation of your native drivers’ license. Your driving permit is translated into 12 of the world’s most spoken languages. Hence, it is only a supporting document or a copy, not a standalone drivers’ permit. This means that it will not be considered valid if you present it without your native drivers’ license.

How do I get an international driver's license in Costa Rica?

There is no such thing as an International Driver's License. The official document that supports your home country driver's license is called an International Driving Permit. As for getting an IDP, it is fairly easy to get one. You can get it just by clicking the "Start My Application" button on the upper right corner of this page.

Here are the steps you only need to do, for us to start processing your IDP application:

  1. Complete the application form.
  2. Attach a copy of your valid driver's license and your passport-sized photo.
  3. Input your credit card details to pay for the IDP fee.

Can USA citizen drive in Costa Rica?

Yes, a US citizen can drive in the country. If your driver's license is in English and not in Spanish, you will need to get yourself an IDP. It's because not all of the local road traffic authorities waiting for you at the side of the road are as well-versed with either the written or oral English. 

In fact, if you come from America and are planning on driving in neighboring countries such as Venezuela, Panama, Canada, etc, an IDP is highly recommended to translate your valid driver's license.

International driving license Costa Rica

Most Important Driving Rules in Costa Rica

The challenge when driving in Costa Rica mostly revolves around the weather. Downpours are frequent, and because of the topography, fog formations can be excessive. However, local vehicular road users have adapted well to this condition by embracing responsible driving. So, if you are using a rental car, you need to be like every responsible Costa Rican driver lese your foreign driver's license will be confiscated.

Legal Driving Age in Costa Rica

The legal driving age in the country is 21 years old. The country is one of many that has a slightly older minimum driving age. 

The common minimum age qualified for a rental car, without a surcharge, is 25 years old. Some car rental companies allow those below 25 years old to rent, but with additional daily fees. Whether you come from the United States, you can pay for it using credit cards, but carrying some cash wouldn't hurt.

Drinking and Driving in Costa Rica

Driving under the influence is one of the major causes of road accidents worldwide. In Costa Rica, pedestrians have constituted the majority of road fatalities (2018). To maintain road safety for all road users, drinking under the influence of alcohol is legally regulated.

If you are caught with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of more than 0.05%, you will be liable to a fine of up to $410 or risk imprisonment for up to three (3) years. For foreign passport holders, you might put yourself at risk of deportation depending on the degree of violation.

Speed Limit

The road conditions in the rural areas of the country are not in the best condition in the country. Not all are paved and there can be potholes, therefore, if you are driving beyond the speed limit which is 62mph on major roads, 37mph, and around schools or hospitals which is 15mph.

No Using of Handheld Mobile Devices

Driving in the country while using a cell phone is banned in the country. Handheld mobile devices could divert your attention while driving in the country's roads and might cause an accident. Therefore, if you are expecting any calls while driving in the country, it is best to request a vehicle from the car rental company which allows you to connect your phone to the vehicle. 

International driving permit Costa Rica

Top Destinations of Costa Rica

Road trip destinations in Costa Rica are both frequented by international and local travelers alike. If you are a seasoned backpacker, exploring the many rainforests’ unpaved trails will bewilder you. If you’re more of a history buff, Cartago’s colonial architecture and collection from the 1500s will thrill you. And these are not all. Costa Rica possesses almost all thematic destinations, an avid cultural and environmental traveler can dream about.

Mount Irazu

Towering at about 11,260 feet, Mount Irazu is Costa Rica’s tallest volcano. You can find it 55km east of San Jose and is within the 2,300has Irazu National Park.

What Can You Do on Mount Irazu?

There are only certain areas in the entire park that are open to the public. However, the number of sectors is enough to fill in a full day or more. There are four (4) craters in the park, but you can only view two (2) of them: the main crater and the Diego de la Haya crater.

An interesting fact is that the main crater only regained its blue-green crater waters last 2016. You can drive directly to the crater lookout and marvel at the 360-degree scenic views on top.

When Can You Visit Mount Irazu?

With a minimal entrance fee of US$15/adult and US$5/child, you can visit the Irazu Volcano National Park every day from 8:00 am - 3:30 pm. It would be best to drive up to the crater during the early hours because you don’t want to be stuck in a vehicle line-up in the later hours.

Rio Sarapique

The Sarapiqui River is nestled between Poas and Barba Volcanoes. It has a length of 85km and terminates at the San Juan River near Costa Rica and Nicaragua’s border. If you are a foreign driver from the United States who is driving a rental car, it is highly possible to help our driving guide for this country.

What Can You Do in Rio Sarapiqui?

The most popular activity to do in Rio Sarapiqui is the infamous whitewater rafting. This two (2) hour ride is both for seasoned paddlers and beginner rafters. You’ll traverse numerous rapids, including “The Pipeline,” “Dos Locos,” and “The Terminator.” Along the way, be fascinated by the lush verdant vegetation enveloping the riverbanks and the wildlife that lives within!

The whitewater rafting activity will use up an entire day because you’ll need to undergo an orientation plus the usual lunch package. It is best to go rafting in Rio Sarapiqui right after the rainy season, as the water becomes more active by then.

How Can You Drive to Rio Sarapiqui?

Whitewater rafting packages often include pick-up services from your hotels. However, if you want to drive up to the area, it usually takes 1 hour and 40 minutes from the Juan Santamaria Airport, via Route 712 and Route 126.

Tortuguero Canals

The Tortuguero Canals is dubbed as the Amazon of Costa Rica. Situated on the country’s Caribbean side, you can only access the town via boat or plane. It is the second-largest wetland ecosystem in the country and shelters more than 400 species of birds.

What Can You Do at the Tortuguero Canals?

Take part in a scenic boat ride through the canal networks and marvel at the wetlands’ mysterious and enchanting quietness. You can travel to the town via a motorized boat or the traditional canoe.

An area is also a nesting place for green turtles. If you visit the country in March and October, you might want to schedule a Tortuguero trip.

Where Is the Jump-Off Point to the Tortuguero Canals?

The fastest route to Tortuguero would be via Carr Braulio Carillo. It will take you about 3 hours to reach the jump-off point from the Juan Santamaria International Airport.

Rio Sarapique

The Sarapiqui River is nestled between Poas and Barba Volcanoes. It has a length of 85km and terminates at the San Juan River near Costa Rica and Nicaragua’s border. If you are a foreign driver from the United States who is driving a rental car, it is highly possible to help our driving guide for this country.

What Can You Do in Rio Sarapiqui?

The most popular activity to do in Rio Sarapiqui is the infamous whitewater rafting. This two (2) hour ride is both for seasoned paddlers and beginner rafters. You’ll traverse numerous rapids, including “The Pipeline,” “Dos Locos,” and “The Terminator.” Along the way, be fascinated by the lush verdant vegetation enveloping the riverbanks and the wildlife that lives within!

The whitewater rafting activity will use up an entire day because you’ll need to undergo an orientation plus the usual lunch package. It is best to go rafting in Rio Sarapiqui right after the rainy season, as the water becomes more active by then.

Pura Vida Waterfalls

This 650-feet tall waterfall is the highest one in Costa Rica. The visitor’s area itself covers around 24.28has and is approximately 4.8km from the Carara National Park.

What Can You Do at Pura Vida Falls?

Before you get to Pura Vida Falls, you will pass through a garden full of varying plant species, butterflies, macaws, toucans, and much more wildlife. The entrance fee is USD 20/adult and US$10/children. You can take a dip at the shallower parts of the Pura Vida Falls and dine at the nearby restaurant where you have a stunning view of the majestic waterfalls.

Since the area is on the Pacific side, sunsets are amazing, and you can get a good view of the Pacific in designated lookouts. The garden and falls is open from 7:30 am - 4:00 pm, Mondays to Saturdays.

Teatro Nacional Costa Rica

The National Theater of Costa is located in the capital city of San Jose. This 19th-century architectural masterpiece caters to the most prominent art shows, concerts, operas, theatre plays, and symphonies in Costa Rica.

What Is Special About the Teatro Nacional?

The Teatro Nacional is one of the most stunning historical buildings in Costa Rica. It features a lot of intricate, opulent designs that took seven(7) years to build. You’ll feel like royalty when inside.

You can visit the theater from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm, seven(7) days of the week if there are no private events such as concerts. There are also guided tours that you can avail of at a minimal price.

Samara

Costa Rica is endowed with the best beaches in the world. The majority of the coastline in the country has a perfect beach for all kinds of water activities. Samara’s town stands out because it remains true to the simple and laid back culture of Costa Rica, away from the popular upscale beach fronts.

What Can You Do at Samara?

Samara Beach is characterized by fine, white sand, excellent for an afternoon lounge. But that’s not all. You can surf, kayak, do sports-fishing, SCUBA dive, ride a horse on the beach, spot different species of birds that visit Isla Chora, and many more!

What Is Special About Samara?

Hotels and restaurants fill just one street in the town of Samara. Outside that, the area is mostly quiet and pristine, like an undiscovered little nook within the Nicoya Peninsula. It is far from the festive vibe of mainstream beaches and exudes the definition of pure relaxation.

How Can You Drive to Samara?

From the Liberia International Airport, the fastest route to Samara would be via Route 21 and Route 150. It will take you about 1 hour and 40 minutes to get to Samara by car.

From the Juan Santamaria International Airport, the fastest route would be via Route 1. It will take you about 3 hours and 40 minutes to reach Samara by car.

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