Importation of left-hand drive vehicles is permitted in the country.
Importing is a regulatory process, each country has its own rules and regulation regarding this. These rules are based on the type of terrain, roads of the concern country and environmental conditions. Likewise, Costa Rica is a rugged, rainforested Central American country with coastlines on the Caribbean and Pacific.
Costa Rican customs procedures are complex and bureaucratic. It is highly recommended to check with your embassy, and ensure the updated information on the rules and regulations of your country.
In Costa Rica an importer can import used vehicles in one of two ways
The temporary entry permit is issued to tally with the length of tha stay, usually for a 90- day period. When this period expires, the imported car must be taken out of Costa Rica permanently, or must be registered with Costa Rican license plates. Those vehicles are not allowed to leave the country within the time period expires,and also Vehicles that do not leave the country within the time period specified to import taxes.
Note: It may be possible to renew the temporary entry permit for a further 90 days.
To collect a vehicle after it has been shipped to Costa Rica, the owner should go in person to the vehicle’s point of entry. This is likely to be Puerto Limón, Puerto Caldera or, if a supplement has been paid, San José.
All taxes and duties must be paid before the vehicle can be released. It is recommended that a customs broker or agent is used to assist with the customs process. Shipping companies usually provide a clearing agent in the destination port, often for an additional fee.
Once the vehicle has cleared customs, it must be registered with the National Registry (Registro Nacional). It is advisable to use the services of a lawyer to register a vehicle, as the procedure can be complicated.
Once you have your RITEVE documentation in hand then you will have to hire the services of a Notary Public so that they can draft the legal document which requests the National Registry to register the vehicle. To do this the owner of the vehicle will have to personally appear before the Notary Public or have provided a third party with a Power of Attorney to do so.
The amount of registration costs and fees is based on a sliding scale of the value of the vehicle as it was determined by the tax department. A rough estimate expect to pay around 4.5% of the value of the vehicle to get it registered.
In addition to the registration fees you will also need to pay the vehicle Marchamo which is the annual road circulation tax and mandatory liability insurance. The Marchamos is handled by the National Insurance Institute (INS) and you can determine the amount that needs to be paid on their website.
It can take anywhere from ten to thirty days to get the vehicle registered. This depends if the deed is accepted during the first presentation or if it is defected for any reason and requires correction. Once the vehicle is registered it is inputted into the recording system and assigned a license plate number. Once that is completed then you can request the issuance of the license tags for the vehicle.
You are not done yet. Once you have completed the registration, paid the marchamo and have your license plates you need to go back to the vehicle inspection station RITEVE so they can issue you the final report and the actual sticker proving that the vehicle is now compliant.
You are now done ! At then end of the process your vehicle will have
There are a number of taxes due when a vehicle is imported into Costa Rica
The taxable amount is based on one of the following: