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.
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 6 Easy Steps!
- Make an appointment on the CESCO website or CESCO app
- Assemble all the required documentation.
- Buy the Stamps from the colecturia – bring cash
- Complete the forms, including the Medical Form which can be completed nearby for an additional $20.
- Check in at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment and wait for your name & number to be called. Provide the purchased stamps and all completed paperwork to the CESCO employee.
- Smile for the camera!
Before the reservation system implemented in summer of 2020, this process could take all day, so Expediters were available for hire to assist with appointments and helping you find and purchase the stamps from the colecturia, as well as locate the Medical office to complete the medical form. The on-site Expediter fee was $27 and absolutely worth the price!
With the new reservation system, there are no longer Expeditors on-site and the Expeditors that can be hired must be scheduled ahead of time, many charging hundreds of dollars!
Required Documents for Puerto Rico Drivers License
If you are already a licensed driver in another State, bring your valid driver’s license from USA. Most States have complete or partial reciprocity, meaning that you can easily exchange your old valid license, plus fees and paperwork, for your new license.
- Passport or Birth Certificate
- Social Security card (required for REAL ID); W-2, or Social Security Benefit statement can be used in place of Social Security card to obtain your license
- Two forms of Proof of Residency; water or electric utility bill, bank statements, phone bill
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.
Puerto Rico Drivers License Forms
Form DTOP-DIS-256 is the primary form to complete to obtain your Driver’s License. There is a checkbox to indicate “Licencia de Conducir” versus “Licencia de Conducir REAL ID” to indicate if you want to pay the extra fee for a recognized Federal REAL ID.
Most people will apply for the Conductor class “3” type license. This is a great opportunity to practice your colors. TEZ = skintone, PELO = Hair color, OJOS = Eye color. The residential address should exactly match your utility bill service location.
Form DTOP-DIS-260 is the Medical Form that must be completed by a medical professional.
If you do not have a utility bill in your name (dependant that utility bill in in spouse or parents name) can also complete the DTOP-DIS-263 Form for residence.
Purchase Stamps at the Colecturia
Driver’s License Fees (and many other government services) are paid by the purchase of “stamps”. These stamps are sold at the offical colecturia, which may be located in the same building at the CESCO but is a seperate department. Bring cash to pay for your stamps on-site.
For a driver’s license you will need to purchase the Sello stamp for $12, Comprobante stamp for $2, and the REAL ID Comprobante stamp for $17.
The medical form can be completed prior to your appointment. There are medical professionals at each of the CESCO offices available for “walk-ins”. Many are available until 3 PM, so be sure to go in the morning, or confirm at the CESCO desk how late they are open.
The Doctor will ask you a series of questions about your health, such as:
- Do you wear glasses or contacts?
- Do you have difficulty hearing?
- Do you have any difficulty moving your arms?
- What is your height and weight?
An eye exam is required for first time driver’s license, but was not required for renewal.
The Doctor charged $20 cash to complete and sign the form.
The medial office will be located “off-site” from the CESCO office. It may be a portable trailer (Caguas location in 2016), a small building or office, or even a wood shack (Mayagüez CESCO 2021).
There is an additional Comprobante $17 stamp to purchase at the Colecturia for the REAL ID. Even if you check the box for REAL ID on the form, without the proper stamp, the REAL ID will not be issued.
BEFORE YOU LEAVE double check the expiration date and that your identification is a “Real ID”. Data input erros happen, especially in the extremely manual process of DTOP, so verify all your information during the form input process, and triple check when they hand you the printed driver’s license before you leave the CESCO building.
Check the Expiration Date
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.
What Else to Expect at CESCO?
With the help of an Expediter, it took a little over 2 hours to obtain my Puerto Rico driver’s license in 2016.
When I renewed my Driver’s License in 2021, I used the CESCO reservation system to make my appointment. I received an email confirmed for my appointment, then follow-up emails upon check-in for my appointment, and when my name & number were called. I showed up an hour early to buy my stamps and complete the medical form, and was still out the door with my renewed driver’s license in less than 2 hours!
There are many bilingual employees at CESCO. If you are confused or have questions, ask for an English speaker for assistance. All of the forms are Spanish only. In 2016 when I got my first license, everyone 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. When I renewed my license in 2021, only a few employees spoke any English to me, so apparently my Spanish has greatly improved because I was able to answer the questions and complete the process entirely in Spanish.
Puerto Rico driver’s licenses are issued for 8 (eight) years now. Previously, they expire on your birthday in 5 years from issuance. As of 2021, the expiration date is in 8 years, on your birthday. When you renew your driver’s license you retain the same Driver’s License number, with an updated photo and expiration date.
Reservations Required due to COVID
Puerto Rico Transportation Department (DTOP /CESCO) has implemented a reservation system. If you already have a valid driver’s license from one of the Reciprocity states, then visit CESCO online here to verify your documents and request an appointment.
For Puerto Rico driver’s license renewals, make an appointment at CESCO here.
For any other Services, scroll to the bottom of this CESCO page to select your service.
- AutoExpreso Toll road paid pass
- Driving Test
- Fines – Traffic tickets, parking tickets, etc
- Renew Driver’s License (PR licenses)
- Vehicles Procedures
Download the CESCO App
Download the CESCO app to your smartphone. This helpful app makes life easier for vehicle marbete (annual car registration and insurance) renewal, plus tracks any fines that you can pay directly within the app.
The marbete refers the the full process of annual vehicle registration. But mostly when someone refers to marbete, they specifically are referring to the sticker that is placed on the inside of the window on the right side. If your vehicle is missing the marbete sticker, you do not have a current marbete sticker, or you do not have the current hardcopy registration of your vehicle renewal – you will get a fine! I learned this the hard way with a $125 fine for having the previous year hardcopy even with the current year marbete sticker.
Parking tickets are not always left on your vehicle, so these may be a surprise when you are due to renew your marbete. The CESCO app provides details of when and where you received the fine, allows you to pay it, and provides electronic proof it was paid.
The last time I was issued a traffic violation (speed traps do exist in PR), I paid my fine in the CESCO office, then when I went to renew my marbete, there was no record of the paid ticket. Fortunately, I still had the paper receipt of payment. Otherwise, I would have had to pay my fine TWICE to complete my car registration to get my marbete.