San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Government streamlines ID process for foreigners with permanent residency

Foreigners will have fewer headaches when renewing their national identification cards, under a new program introduced by Costa Rica government officials on Tuesday.

Those people with permanent resident status can now renew their cédulas –government-issued identification cards – in 32 of the Bank of Costa Rica (BCR) branches throughout the country.

“There will be a reduced waiting time for an appointment…a reduction of costs (considering the process only requires one visit)…and it will become more convenient for people living outside of San José,” said Janina Del Vecchio, public security minister, during a news conference on Tuesday. “We now celebrate a better experience for foreigners.”

To apply for a cédula – which is used for everything from opening a bank account to renting a car – foreigners with permanent status should now be able to call for an appointment, make one trip to the bank and then wait 22 days to receive the card.

In times past, the process took multiple visits to the Immigration Administration and required a journey to San José for those living in outlying areas of the country, such as San Carlos, Guanacaste, Limón and the Southern Zone.

“The use of a platform of personal attention from the Bank of Costa Rica allows us to permanently improve the attention given to foreign residents of the country, significantly shortening the waiting time for renewal of identification documents…” Del Vecchio said in a statement.

Del Vecchio estimates there are 300,000 people living in Costa Rica who could benefit from this new service.

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