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.
Additional Forms can be downloaded directly from the DTOP site
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.
Stamps can also be purchased online at the Colecturia Digital site or via the Mobile app then printed for your appointment.
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.
20 thoughts on “How to Get a Driver’s License in Puerto Rico, 6 Easy and Quick Steps”
Thank you for a wonderful article. Do you know if two proof-of-residence documents are still required? I’m seeing conflicting information on this item, the Cesco website itself only references need one item to prove residence.
I want to change my regular license to a chofer license. no information in valid for this process…please advise.
Thanks Jen, we got ours done in Humacao in about 4 hours.
Glad you got it (somewhat) easily.
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.
Oh, wow! That is new and very helpful. Thank you for sharing.
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!
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.
Good luck with the driver’s license and your move!
Can you tell me how you found the expediter?
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.
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?
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.
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.
This is such a helpful post! I have only just recently found out about international drivers licences! Thanks so much for sharing this.
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.
Wonderful and helpful information! Thank you!