is not wise to import a vehicle that is not in
The formula to calculate the duty is based
on the year, make & model and accessories, but
not the condition.
It is a complicated formula, so it is best
to get a quotation in advance of importing.
The ARCR does this for members. As a
Costa Rican resident you will not be permitted to
take delivery of the car from the shipper until
all taxes and duties are paid.
It may be best to hire a customs broker to
is the obligatory liability insurance carried on
all vehicles in Costa Rica.
It must be renewed annually between
November 1 and December 31.
A car without an insurance decal on the
windshield is illegal after the 1st of January.
When the marchamo is paid, it is necessary
to pay any parking or traffic tickets (plus
interest) that were issued against the car during
the year and to prove that the vehicle inspection
sticker is current.
This can be done at MOPT offices, or at a
number of private locations including some banks.
The cost of the marchamo depends on the
year, make and model of the car.
Vehicle Technical Inspection
vehicle must have a certificate in the car and a
decal on the windshield that proves the vehicle
inspection is current.
Inspections are done at one of the many
specially constructed locations around the
were built and are operated by the Spanish firm
Reteve that won the contract to perform motor
month of the inspection depends upon the last
digit of the license plate.
Vehicles are tested for exhaust emissions,
brakes, lights, turn signals, windshield wipers
and a list of other safely related features.
Vehicles without a valid decal on the
windshield and document in the car are subject to
a fine. It
is not possible to get the next marchamo without
proof that the inspection is current.
There is a charge for the inspections.
Inspections are necessary each year on
older vehicles, and every two years for newer
car dealer will assist a purchaser to acquire the
metal plates for the first time, but you will be
able to drive the car with a temporary permit that
must be displayed in the window.
is illegal to operate a motor vehicle without a
valid cédula or passport (or a copy certified by
a lawyer), a valid drivers license (either Costa
Rican or foreign) and the original of the paper
license if metal plates are not on the car.
A foreign driver’s license is valid for
tourists only if their visa has not expired.
The entry stamp in the passport determines
the start date of the visa.
It is possible for transit police to
impound a vehicle if any of the documents are
expired or are not in the vehicle. With
a rental car the rental agreement needs to be
pick up a rental car you will need your driver’s
license, passport and credit card.
enforcement falls to the transit police.
Most speed enforcement is done with a hand
held radar gun from the side of the road.
If you are exceeding the speed limit the
officer will motion you to stop.
He may request the paperwork mentioned
previously and is required to show you the radar
gun to confirm your speed.
fines are paid before the end of the year when the
marchamo is purchased it is necessary to pay at a
specified bank in the national banking system.
A service charge for receiving the payment
is in addition to the fine.
limits are usually 80 KPH on major highways, and
are 60 KPH at all intersections and in populated
zones are usually 25 KPH when students are present
and 40 KPH at other times.
Most transit police are
polite, and if they feel the driver is a confused
tourist, they may simply give a warning provided
all papers are in order.