How to Ship your Vehicle from the United States to San Jose, Costa Rica .
Weather you are in the research phases of transitioning to Costa Rica, either temporary or permanent, it is clear that there can be a lot of confusion and lack of empathy to the stresses that can be endured when relocating yourself to another country. The most cost effective tool you can equip yourself with is accurate, and current information to avoid costly mistakes. The following information is provided, in order to accomplish relocating your vehicle in very best way possible.
The very first thing, is to determine if you will be needing to have your vehicle in Costa Rica for over 90 days, or longer. This will determine what type of permission you are requesting for allowance of your vehicle into the country. The second, is to contact a shipping company that provides quality shipping from the U.S, into San Jose, Costa Rica. Once you have done this step, you should find that the shipping agent can assist you and make the process much easier. The companies that provide this service are usually pretty knowledgeable. The reputable companies routinely need to abide by current laws, regulations, and security. This typically provides a much greater sense of relief with less stress and time involved.
Temporary Entry Permit- This permit is valid for (90) days. It is possible to apply for an extension if necessary, however it is highly recommended this permission is requested prior to the expiration of your (90) day permit by contacting the Costa Rica customs authorities.This permit allows for the avoidance of the taxes and importation fees. The following is needed for this type of permit.....
1) Vehicle Registration Papers
2) U.S Drivers License
3) Valid Passport
IMPORTATION - This is the option that you would choose, should you decide on a time period longer than 90 days. This option meets the requirements of Costa Rica for importing your car into the country with more permanent intentions.
1) Proof of Ownership
2) Document showing proof of the VIN
3) Original Purchase Invoice
4) Current Emissions test certificate
Once your Vehicle has arrived in Costa Rica, it is the responsibility of the owner to retrieve it from the point of entry in San Jose, Costa Rica for the customs clearing process. If this is something you would like to avoid, it is recommended using a broker or clearing agent to take care of the clearing of your vehicle through the customs process for you. This gives the assurance that all taxes, duties, and requirements are met quickly and correctly. You can simply obtain a Clearing agent / Broker by requesting one, when making arrangements through your shipping agent of choice.
Yes, unfortunately there are multiple Import taxes due when you choose to import your vehicle. However having your personal vehicle can eliminate many other things that can definitely outweigh the expenses of the alternatives. The Ministry of Finance, is the collector of taxes for all vehicles imported into the country. The taxes vary greatly, depending on many factors. Age of vehicle, Value, cost of shipping & insurance, are all considered in determining the import taxes due. The Ministry of Finance has provided a valuable calculation tool to help you, and them, to determine what will be required for the taxes on your vehicle. This tool and calculation, unfortunately is not to the benefit of the importer, and is very much manipulative proof in any attempts to minimize the value of your vehicle, hence the import taxes that will be due.
*The only avoidance of taxes, is the importation of an Electric powered vehicle. This exception is granted through the Ministry of Environment, Energy, & Telecommunications
Registering & Insuring your Vehicle.
Once you have cleared customs, the next step is to Insure your vehicle with the minimum liability insurance required. Proof of this insurance is necessary in order to register your vehicle in the country. You can visit www.ins-cr.com for all insurance information and options for a policy that suits you, along with calculation of fees and costs to obtain your policy. In order to begin this process, you must provide the following.
• Proof of Import ( this shows you have met the clearing requirements by customs)
Note- The RTV needs to be renewed every year if your vehicle is over 5 years of age, and every 2 years if your vehicle is under 5 years of age.
Once you have Registered & Insured your Vehicle.
The last and final step once you have completed obtaining your registration and obtaining insurance for your vehicle, is to pay what is called your "Marchamo". The "Marchamo", is an added annual road tax that is implemented by Costa Rica and is to be renewed/paid on an annual basis. The proof of your payment of this tax, is a sticker that should be placed and clearly visible on your front windshield. Failure to have this current sticker is illegal, and unfortunately not taken lightly. In most cases, impounding of your vehicle with substantial fines will be implemented until the taxes are paid.
Driving Laws & Regulations in Costa Rica.
Congratulations, you should at this point be in legal, lawful possession of your vehicle to drive in the country. You are permitted to use the valid drivers license of your original country. However, it is of course highly recommended that you familiarize yourself in advance, with the specific rules/laws, signs, customary practices ( lawful & unlawful), and road etiquette you may encounter in your travels.
Drive Safe & Pura Vida!!
Written By:Joe Webster
Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.
After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.
With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.