How to Get a Driver’s License in Puerto Rico, 4 Easy and Quick Steps

Getting a driver’s license is pretty easy, right? (Many years ago) In Phoenix, Arizona I read the driver’s booklet, passed my written test, then demonstrated basic driving skills for the practical exam.  I have been a licensed driver ever since.

How to get your Puerto Rico Driver's License in 4 easy steps!
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So, why would I be nervous or hesitant to become a licensed driver in Puerto Rico?  All the paperwork and instructions are in Spanish (which I barely read, and am learning to speak).  

And multiple trusted people and websites told me how difficult it is to get a driver’s license in Puerto Rico.

THEY WERE WRONG!

It was easy and quick to get a Puerto Rican Driver’s License (for licensed US Citizen).

Here’s how to get a Puerto Rico Driver’s License in 4 Easy Steps!

1) Assemble all required documentation
• Valid driver’s license from USA (Except for Hawaii, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Washington) has complete or partial reciprocity. Meaning that you can easily exchange your old valid license, plus fees and paperwork, for your new license.
• Social Security card, W-2, or Social Security Benefit statement
• Passport or Birth Certificate
• Two forms of Proof of Residency; water or electric utility bill, bank statements, phone bill
2) Bring $38 cash per licensed driver
3) Visit the local CESCO (Department of Transportation)
4) Hire the Expediter! These are people, usually with radios, that you can pay a slight premium to navigate the CESCO process.

Inside the Hacienda
Inside the Hacienda

For $38 our Expediter confirmed we had the correct documentation, directed us to nearby parking, obtained the CESCO number in line, arranged for all the appropriate paperwork to be completed, including purchase of the two Stamps from the Hacienda, then walked us over to the correct area in the CESCO. The fee without Expediter is $11, and I absolutely got $27 of peace of mind from the service!

Stamps from the Hacienda
Stamps from the Hacienda

I waited about an hour for my number to be called.  I presented the completed paperwork at the counter, then was told to wait for my number to be called a second time.  Another 20+ minutes, then my number was called again.  They collected my paperwork for scanning, took my photo, and told me to wait nearby.  Another ten minutes or so and they handed me my original documents, except for my old Arizona driver’s license, which was traded for a new driver’s license issued by Puerto Rico.

Waiting at the CESCO
Waiting at the CESCO

BEFORE YOU LEAVE double check the expiration date and that your identification is a “Real ID”. Several friends, that did not hire expediters, reported that they did not get the real ID endorsement, because they forgot/didn’t know to ask. Other friends had licenses issues with expiration date less than 1 year away due to a manually keyed typo. This resulted in another visit to the CESCO to renew their license and could have easily been avoided.

The entire process took two hours from the time we found the Expediter to the time we each walked out with a new driver’s license.

The most difficult part of the process was actually finding the CESCO.  We drove to the Humacao location, which apparently moved, but we had the old address.  Frustrated, we drove to the larger location in Caguas, which was very easy to find.

No written test.  No confusion.  Our Expediter and everyone at the Hacienda spoke English to me. Paperwork was completed in Spanish with full explanation to me in English.  In fact, everyone that reviewed the paperwork and handled the process spoke English to me. It was comforting, and easy.

Update June 2019: A new requirement is to have a copy of your driving record from the state that issued your driver’s license. Most states have this (paid) service available for less than $10, and many states allow you to request (and pay) for this service online.

Bring a printed copy of your state issued driver’s record, it cannot be from an agency or other third party. The CESCO requires the printed hard copy, they cannot process the electronic file or email from you.

14 thoughts on “How to Get a Driver’s License in Puerto Rico, 4 Easy and Quick Steps”

  1. Sorry I almost forget- the waits can be long but they have an app to download at turnospr.com if you enter in your ticket number you can follow the waiting progress via your phone. We were number 8087 and they were on 8010 when we left. We left at 10 am, went to lunch and went shopping while watching the progress. We returned at 3:20 pm and were called at 3:45 pm.

  2. I just got a new PR license from Caguas recently and not sure if anyone is aware but since July of this year anyone applying for a new Puerto Rico license, including those from the States, need to take an alcohol class. Its free, takes about 1 1/2 hours, its in Spanish but you don’t have to do anything just sit there while someone gives a lecture. The class is at 8 am and the information booth will direct you to the education office who will then assign you a class. They will not issue you a place in line (ticket) without first checking to see if you have the alcohol class certificate and your driving record. Once you get a place line and they call you up to the desk to process your license they checked the following 1/ Social security card 2/ US license 3/ a copy of any type of utility bill or a lease with your PR address- only one of these is needed 4/ Your medical form and tax stamps which are purchased outside 5/ Application 6/ Passport and one copy of your passport 7/ driving record (unofficial is fine) 8/ Alcohol class certificate. I hope this helps!

  3. If you just did this in 2019, then I believe every word. But, as far as being a former California resident I understood that I needed to take a written test, so I have put out an exhaustive search for the driving manual in English. I found the manual in Spanish with no problems. A Facebook friend who used to work for DTOP told me the manual was available in English when she was working there and the written test also was administered in English and Spanish. Friends formerly from other states said they simply turned in their old license and took no test. We shall see what happens when I go to the office. Thank goodness my partner is from Mexico and his first language is Spanish.

    1. At the CESCO office in Caguas, we asked the guy that was directing parking (he has a red flag) where we could hire an expediter. He showed us where to park (backing into a place that did not look like a legal parking spot), then called over another guy with a large walkie talkie radio. He confirmed the driver’s license service and price, then verified that we had all of our documents. Then he gets on his radio and starts directing people to get our number in line, coordinate the stamps, and walked us into the first office to begin the process. Our expediter arranged everything on his radio and made sure that we had an English speaker for each step of the process.
      He also knew that we wanted our “Real ID” and made sure that was included in our process.

      1. Any Idea if Expediters are available in Mayaguez preferably, or Ponce…and how i would find them? I moved to Cabo Rojo recently from Condado/San Juan, and Caguas is about 2 hours from here. I have a California license which 5 year limit expires in end of Jan 2020.Any idea if it(California) has any reciprocity? Hope i dont have to take any written test, my Spanish is mucho malo…y limitado! If i have to go to Caguas ,I just go without an advanced appointment,and seek the red flag guy,and ask for the expediter,with my papers and cash….and they take it from there?

        1. I think each DTOP location has expediters, look for the people outside the office with radios/walkie talkies. Double check with DTOP about California reciprocation, as of a few months ago, PR does reciprocate with CA.

          1. Thanks! In the meantime,i found someone at the car dealership where i bought my jeep,who deals with DMV and spoke some English(i.e.20% of the population at most? 80% do not or wont admit it…) and she has an “expediter” in Mayaguez…who also does not speak English,but she convinced me he can handle it anyway.

            Just gathering my Docs needed,including a medical certificate (i.e. eye-test etc)and then I go for it…including the REAL ID! Main thing is not having to take a written test or read the test booklet…in Spanish…is a big relief for me.

  4. An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a friend whoo has been conducting a littlee research
    on this. And he actually bought me lunch simply because I found it for
    him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for thee meal!!
    But yeah, thanx for spending time to discuss this issue here on your site.

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