How to Obtain Your Puerto Rican Driver’s License - Relocate to Puerto Rico with Act 20 & Act 22

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How to Obtain Your Puerto Rican Driver’s License

 

Puerto Rico may be part of the US, but that does not mean that your U.S. state driver’s license is valid in the small island territory. Within 30 days of registering in Puerto Rico, new residents must apply for a local driver’s license. If you have come to Puerto Rico to take advantage of the Act 20-22 laws, you have to obtain a Puerto Rican driver’s license immediately after purchasing a property or signing a lease contract. The default procedure to apply for a PR driver’s license involves receiving a Learner’s Permit Certificate and waiting at least 30 days before obtaining the full Puerto Rico license, but the process is a bit faster for those who already hold a valid U.S. license.

 

Reciprocity categories

In the past, Puerto Rico had differing levels of reciprocity with different states, with a lucky few enjoying full reciprocity, an unlucky few subject to no reciprocity, and most in the category of partial reciprocity. However, as of 2014, all states have full reciprocity agreements in place.

 

This means that people with a valid U.S. driver’s license do not have to take the written or driving tests to obtain a Puerto Rican driver’s license. If their license is expired, they must take both the written and driving test, but they do not have to wait 30 days.

 

Applicants are required to surrender their current state license so that they do not hold two licenses. It is advised to obtain another state-issued identification card to ease procedures with ID checkers in the US, as not all realize that Puerto Rico is part of the US.

 

Necessary documents

There are several documents applicants need to bring to the CESCO (the DMV of Puerto Rico) to obtain a driver’s license:

  • Your current U.S. driver’s license
  • An official copy of your state driving record
  • A document that shows your social security number
  • Your birth certificate or passport
  • Two forms of proof of residence (e.g., utility bill or bank statement)
  • U.S. passport
  • A filled-out DTOP-DIS-256 form
  • IRS stamps ($32 in total for the license and the REAL ID)
  • Medical statement ($20–$25)

Most states will send you an official copy of your driving record for less than $10, and some states even allow you to download an official copy from the internet. Make sure you know which category your state falls under, as the CESCO will reject the document if you download and print a nonofficial copy.

 

For the IRS stamps, make sure to purchase them at the bank, where you will pay the true value. You can also find second-hand sellers near the DMV, but they add a premium, so you will end up paying more than you need to.

 

Regarding the medical statement, all you need is a doctor to officially state that you’re healthy enough to drive. You can find numerous doctor’s offices around the CESCO, and the procedure consists merely of answering a few health-related questions and having the doctor fill out a form and sign it.

 

Hire an expediter

This is optional, but it can dramatically speed up and smooth out the process. An expediter will guide you through the entire process, making sure you have the correct documentation, arranging for all the necessary paperwork to be completed, and navigating you through the CESCO building. Given that dealings with the DMV and similar institutions are generally a headache, even if you could complete the process on your own, many believe the peace of mind is worth the extra fee. This is especially useful if you don’t speak Spanish well.

 

Confirm the information

Before you leave the CESCO, double-check the expiry date and information printed on your newly issued license. Unlike the DMV in the US, the CESCO does not ask you to verify the information before they print it on the license, which could lead to mistakes in your address or name. You will need to get the license reprinted if you find mistakes, and it’s best to do so as soon as you can.

 

REAL ID

It is not mandatory to make your driver’s license into a REAL ID, but it is highly recommended. Starting in October 2020, you will need either your passport or your REAL ID to take domestic flights or enter federal facilities. The procedure is the same, and the REAL ID looks almost identical to the default driver’s license, except that it contains a star in the right corner. Make sure to bring the extra money for the REAL ID.

 

To receive your REAL ID, you must be present during the process at all times. You can receive REAL ID licenses at the CESCOs in Carolina, Arecibo, Aguadilla, Ponce, Guayama, and Humacao.

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