Vehicle Registration Process In Costa Rica
Unless you happen to be shipping an alternative fuel vehicle like an electric or hybrid car, the import taxes are very high for vehicles in Costa Rica. Though there are different levels of taxation based on the vehicle’s age, the low end still sits a relatively hefty 50%. For vehicles that are more than three years old, the import duties get even pricier.
Vehicle Registration Information
Vehicles brought into the country need to be registered as soon as possible—as of this writing, the window for registration is only a couple days. You can get the process started as soon as you arrive since the necessary paperwork is available at customs offices.
A note of caution regarding registration fees: the pricier the vehicle, the higher the fee. The import tax is also subject to increase based on newer or more expensive vehicles.
Once you have submitted all the necessary paperwork, you’ll receive your license plates and marchamo, which acts as your registration sticker. Be sure that the sticker is properly displayed on the windshield or you may risk being penalized even if you do have a valid marchamo.
If you’d like more information about shipping a vehicle to Costa Rica, including the approximate cost, requirements, and preparations, visit our shipping page! You’ll also find many helpful links and related articles there.
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Costa Rica Roadworthiness Inspection, Driver’s License & Registration Resources
The technical inspection is the main mechanical test your imported vehicle will be put through, mainly to make sure that all the key operational and safety features are in proper working order. This section covers some details of the inspection, as well as what you’ll need to get a license, and some resources to help things go smoothly when you do.
You’ll need a valid vehicle inspection sticker in order to register a vehicle in Costa Rica. This is acquired by submitting your imported vehicle for a technical inspection at a registered center, where they then examine the various components of the vehicle to make sure they are in good working order. The components checked during the inspection include the following:
- Vehicle emissions
- Braking system & shocks
- Lights & turn indicators
- Wipers, mirrors, & windshield
- Safety features
- Body & undercarriage
In Costa Rica, the vehicle inspection is known as the “Riteve” and you can learn more about the process and where to get an inspection by clicking on the link below under the resources section.
Costa Rican Driver’s License
You do not have to be a resident or citizen of Costa Rica to apply for a license. Even if you are just visiting or only staying for a short time, you can still apply for a license. To do so, you will need to present the following documents to the Cosevi (see second link below):
- Valid passport or proof of residence*
- Home country license & copy
- Medical exam paperwork
- Road test completion (only if home license is expired)
*Passport must have been stamped within the prior 90 days.
Costa Rica Vehicle Registration Resources
Riteve (Vehicle Inspection) Information - Find the latest information about vehicle inspections in Costa Rica, such as where test centers are located, making an appointment, and frequently asked questions about the inspection.
Procedures For Drivers - The Cosevi, also known as the Council For Road Safety, is where you will need to present the relevant documents to get a local license.
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