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Written By: Gary on November 12, 2008 No Comment

This is trickier than it sounds. Imagine trying to open an account in the US without a Social Security card and without a mailing address…

I got all my paperwork in order:

  • They normally two letters of reference from banks that I normally do business with (seemed very old fashioned to me). I ended up using a letter of reference from a local Costa Rican organization and one letter of reference from a bank. I didn’t think I even needed the letter from my bank (I thought the Costa Rican letter would supersede it) but I was told a few days before my trip I needed it (definitely in conflict to other info I was given); in hindsight I’m not certain I needed it but it’s in my file now.
  • A utility bill, I used one the same as what I was using for my local address.
  • Copies of my passport and entrance stamp page.

    Once I got all that in order I went to the bank, got sent to another building, waited, got walked back to the first building to the person who sent me to the second building. Then I bet I sat at his desk for 90 minutes while he keyed in all sorts of things in the computer kept leaving the office and coming back again. All the while I’m intermittently signing things for the accounts, on-line banking, an ATM card and I think a debit card (built into the ATM card).

    I have to go back for my ATM card and I can’t set up the on-line banking until I have that card. I’ll come back to the bank to pick up the card next week (I had other stuff going on so I didn’t go back for a few weeks and it was all ready). They possibly could have sent it to another branch, but they seemed hesitant, so I wouldn’t chance it (especially since my schedule is a little grey still).

    So now as I see some other branches I’ll do a few tests depositing a check and making a withdrawal to see how it works. Better to know now then when I have an emergency.

    No one could really explain to me if I should open the accounts in Dollars or Colones. Most people said both but couldn’t say why. It seems like I can deposit into either account in either currency and withdraw in either currency also. It’s never seemed to bother my US bank if I withdraw in Dollars or Colones. If I’m in CR, I’m only going to take out Colones (unless maybe I’m at the airport leaving the country…)

  • Written By: Gary on November 11, 2008 5 Comments

    So went to get my driver’s license today. What a bureaucracy! The only plus was that it wasn’t very busy.

    I knew this was going to be a hassle so I hired ARCR (the folks that did the relocation seminar) to take me there and work me through the process, it was $35 well spent. I would have spent that on cab rides alone.

    Here’s the process we took: Crlicence

  • Copied my passport, entrance stamp and US license.
  • Drove to the MOPT (their Department of Motor Vehicles).
  • Walked out of the huge complex and down the street to the Doctor’s office and got a blood type test $10 and then went to a different room for a “medical” for $20 (which consisted of an eye test, blood pressure and some questions).
  • Walked back into the far side of the complex and queued up.
  • Every time someone went in, we all moved down a seat closer to the door.
  • Got approved for a driver’s license for an automobile.
  • Did not get approved for a motorcycle. She didn’t accept the “CY” in my endorsement section was for a motorcycle. Says I’ll have to go to the U.S. Embassy to get a note from them. This was even after I showed her my “International Driver’s Permit” which very clearly identifies me as having a motorcycle endorsement and it’s in Spanish (FYI, Costa Rica does not honor this permit for driving so I can’t bitch too much); if Michigan defined “CY” on the back of the license I’d have been fine.
  • Went downstairs and waited but this time we had a number.
  • This was to get everything keyed in for the license.
  • Walked back to the front of the complex to pay for the license.
  • Walked back to the back of the complex to show the receipt that we paid.
  • Got my picture taken (was allowed to smile), signed the computer tablet and had my fingerprint taken.
  • Waited for a few minutes more and got my license! Good for two years!

    Throughout this process I showed my US license, passport and the copies a million times. At some point in the process they did let us leave to make a copy of the doctor’s medical test (all the way back to the front and down the street to the doctor’s) and then they stamped it certified so I don’t have to get another test ($10).

    The $35 for the escort well spent, especially since I speak barely speak Spanish. But if they had known a little more I could have gotten the paperwork I needed to get the motorcycle endorsement and gotten both. I’ve heard they are making license’s harder for non-residents so maybe I should get it now (I’m assuming they’ll let me renew it even if they change the rules) that was part of my motivation in the first place. I can go back myself but like I said before, if I don’t have a car it’s going to cost that much for cab fare. If I have a car at the end of my trip when I come back to San Jose to leave I’ll do it…

  • Written By: Gary on August 29, 2008 No Comment

    One of the things I’m doing this trip is attending a seminar by the Association of Residents of Costa Rica (ARCR). They offer this the last Thursday/Friday of every month (but December) for only $65. I’ve had this on my to do list for a while but it just hasn’t worked out previously, it is specifically why I chose now for this trip and not a few weeks later.

    It’s pretty much what I hoped for so far a bunch of short little presentations (about nine a day). Of course everyone who does a presentation passes out their contact info, but it really is more of a presentation on the topic, not specifically selling their business (although they’re hoping). The one topic I hoped for, but didn’t really expect, was about working in Costa Rica. We have about 25 people in our group, mostly from US and Canada; mostly retirees or soon to be about five of us weren’t near the retirement range but want to relocate.

    FYI: Really good snacks for break: OJ, coffee, some kind of pastry and little crustless sandwiches.

    I talked to one of the people, Ray, a few times beforehand via e-mail and telephone before coming and he was very helpful.

    I’d definitely recommend this seminar if you are thinking of relocating or retiring to Costa Rica.

    I also used these folks for getting my driver’s license.

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