Buying or Importing a Car

Buying or Importing a Car


Are you thinking of buying or importing a car in Costa Rica? Importing a car can be a relatively costly process, but may be worth it in the long run since the quality of used Costa Rican cars varies wildly. Import duties in Costa Rica run from 52% to 79% of the value of your car, and freight charges can be anywhere from $500 to $800. Once the car arrives it will be inspected, and you must purchase liability insurance, or Marcharmo, which is obligatory and must be paid annually.

It’s also important to keep in mind that importing a car that isn’t made in Costa Rica can be problematic if it requires repairs or new parts, and warranties are typically invalid once the vehicle leaves its country of origin. On a more positive note, vehicles in Costa Rica tend to hold their value far longer than those in other nations. If you bring in an older vehicle and choose to sell it, you can typically offset the cost of import to some degree.

Your Rights

Similar to real estate law, foreigners have the same rights as locals when purchasing a vehicle in Costa Rica. Buying a new or used car requires a full inspection via a competent mechanic and a bill of sale before a notary public. A transfer tax of 2.5% and registration fee of .05% of the purchase price must be paid by the buyer, along with various documentary fees.

Oh, and by the way – importing or buying a car isn’t the only way to get around! Puerto Viejo and the surrounding area is known for being bike-friendly, and many residents choose to walk and/or use public transportation to move from place to place.