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Buying a Vehicle in Costa Rica? Steps to follow

    I was looking into buying a car or motorcycle. What do I need to do to accomplish this?

    The vehicle may be already registered in National Registry or not.

    a)      In most of the cases the car is already registered.
    If such case, get the license plate number and give it to us. Then we can make a title search. We will also check for traffic tickets and debts for “marchamo” as part of the title search. (The “marchamo” is the payment of the yearly tax and obligatory vehicle insurance).

    If everything goes fine with it and you decide to buy it, then the owner (seller) and the buyer must go to a Costa Rican Notary office to grant the Notary public writ by which both parties will be asking National Registry to make the transfer of ownership. Registration may take approximately one week. If you are buying in the name of a Corporation, then you may provide to the Notary with something called “personerìa”. This is a certificate issued by National Registry showing that you have enough power of attorney to sign the document on behalf of the corporation. However, if you provide such Notary with the Corporate official iD number “Cedula Juridica”, the Notary must be able to get the “personeria” in National Registry web page.

    In this case, since the vehicle is already registered in National Registry, you can drive it on the road since it already has license plates. (But you must make sure that it also has a non expired Technical Inspection and the Sticker (“marchamo”) on the windshield).

    b)      If it is not registered, then you will have to check for customs documents to confirm if custom taxes have been paid and to know who pays them. Whoever paid them is the one who may require the registration. Or that person may transfer the documents to you (some known as “DUA”) and then you may require the registration. If you buy a vehicle in this condition, then you are not having the National Registry guarantee since the vehicle is not registered yet. (But most of the times there are no problems. However, it is important to check those documents carefully and confirm them online)

    In addition to the “DUA” and its transfer to you, it will be needed to get and present to National Registry a Vehicle Technical Inspection (also known as RTV). Seller is supposed to provide it to you as a guarantee that the car is o. k. for registration. If you accept to do it by yourself, you may get it and bring the vehicle to a RTV Station. It is advisable to get a previous appointment in the following link: www.rtv.co.cr/CitaPrevia.aspx?Seccion=4

    In that link you may also choose what station you will want to use for the vehicle inspection.

    You will also have to present what is known as “Marchamo”. This is a receipt that INS (“Instituto Nacional de Seguros”) will give you when you pay the yearly taxes and obligatory insurance for the vehicle. Without this document National Registry will not give you license plates and will not make the registration. For Registered cars with valid Inspection, this document comes with a sticker to put on the windshield. In this case, since it is not a Registered car, they will not give you such sticker yet.

    In this case, the car does not have a license plate number. So, you will not be able to drive the car on the road until they give you the license plate and complete the steps below.

    National Registry usually gives you the plates 2 or 3 days from the date in which all documents are presented in order.

    Once you have the license plates, you must go to RTV Station with a proof of registration (a certificate issued by National Registry showing the registration. This certificate may be bought online). Then RTV Station will give you a proof of Technical Inspection. You must present such Inspection to the INS with the “marchamo” and then they will give you the sticker for the windshield. (see above).

    © Copyright E&T ESCROW & TRUST SOLUTIONS S. R. L. Costa Rica. ( www.escrowtrustsolutions.com )
    Please Note: This material is for personal use only and is protected by Copyright Law. It is provided as general information only and does not constitute and is not a substitute for legal or other professional advice. Reliance on this material is solely at your own risk. Always consult your own legal or other professional advisors and discuss the facts and circumstances that apply to your specific case.

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