Get a Vehicle Property Title Replaced

A sample Property Title for a vehicle registered in Costa Rica

Partial view of the document and seal.

First of all, keep in mind that the property title is not a vital document in Costa Rica.  Vehicle ownership must be transferred with the help of a lawyer / notary, and regardless of any additional paperwork the information in the National Registry is what matters.

There isn’t a case where you are asked to produce a property title to prove ownership. In a traffic stop, for example, you must present your current “marchamo” and the RTV technical inspection report, plus your driver’s license.

That said, most of our clients come from the US and are very concerned with getting the registration paper in their hands.  Conversely, many attorneys are very lackadaisical about following through with this.  IF you are in an outlying area, or have a hard time getting the lawyer to follow through, then you may wish to go to the National Registry and get a replacement or duplicate title.  Registry offices are located throughout the country and it may be easier — and even less expensive to get a title there.

Here is the procedure (documented on the National Registry web site)

Procedure for Replacement of Vehicle Property Title

The solicitud must be made by the proprietor of the vehicle in person at the Registry office and must meet the following requirements:

  1. Complete the form and present valid identification, WHICH MUST MATCH THE INFORMATION IN THE REGISTRY. If the owner’s current ID is not the same as that shown in registry records, then the owner must present a publicly sworn statement (DECLARACION JURADA EN ESCRITURA PUBLICA), indicating that the the two documents identify the same person. If the person cannot appear in person, the form may be presented signed and with a notary’s seal that authenticates the signature, as well as with the official stamps corresponding to the authentication.
  2. If the vehicle is owned by a corporation, then the registry report of a corporation must be presented (called a personería jurídica). The report must be less than two months old.
  3. For applications in the name of state owned vehicles, diplomatic vehicles or state univerisity vehicles, the application must be presented on the letterhead of the institution and the seal of the corresponding department, and the registry report of a corporation must be presented (called a personería jurídica).
  4. If the applicant is acting under a special power of attorney, then they must present the original testimony (ESCRITURA PÚBLICA) of that power of attorney.
  5. If the vehicle has a pending sales transaction noted in the registry, then the replacement property title may not be issued. The registration of the pending sale must be completed first and a new title will be issued.
  6. Present the form (Download the Form as PDF)

Time of Delivery
The property title is delivered immediately, once all the necessary documents are presented.

Stamps and Fees

  • ¢ 6000 Registry Fees
  • ¢ 250 Bar Association Stamps (if application is authenticated)
  • ¢ 5   National Archives

 

New License Plates Revealed

New Sticker - must match new plates

Yet another sticker for your windshield

Starting in January of 2012, the National Property Registry began using the new license plates for cars being registered in the country for the first time.

The most distinctive feature of the new plates is that they have letters!  Prior to this year, the plates were numbered in consecutive order.  Late in 2011 the numbers were over 900,000, so the question was would the registry move to 7 digit plates, or do something else.

The powers that be decided to go with the new plates and add letters to the mix.  If you know your statistics, you know that a 6 digit passcode made up of only numbers has a possible 1 million combinations.  Whereas a 6 digit passcode, made up of 3 letters and 3 numbers that may be repeated, has a possible 8,000,000 combinations. (only 20 letters may be used – since the registry excluded vowels)

However, the new license plates aren’t just pretty permutations.  They have other new features as well, intended to prevent falsification and “cloning”. Read More

Import Duties on Shipping a Car to Costa Rica

The Galloper was never sold in the USA, but offers good value and economical operation.

If you have a vehicle that you have owned and that is commonly imported to Costa Rica, you may consider shipping the car to Costa Rica. This article explains the reasoning behind the high import duties, as well as some exceptions, including updated information on environmentally friendly taxes.  Read More

Permit for vehicle to leave Costa Rica (temporary exit)

Tico Plates, Exit Stamps for Vehicles

Getting an Exit Permit for Costa Rica Registered Vehicles

If you want to go see the Panama Canal or take a weekend trip to Nicaragua, then your car, truck, SUV or motorcycle with Costa Rican plates, must get a permit to leave the country.  This is something you can do yourself, although someone else can do it for you with a notarized letter.  The cost of the permit is about $11, but it is only  good for 15 working days, so you have to leave the country within about 3 weeks of the time you get the permit. Following is the low down on the procedure, which varies according to whether the vehicle is owned by an individual, company, NGO, government agency, or if it is in the process of being registered to a new owner. Read More

Importing a Car to Costa Rica vs. Buying a Vehicle Here

On some web sites people recommend importing a vehicle yourself rather than buying a vehicle that is already in Costa Rica.  A common concern cited is that cars coming in are flood damaged — Katrina Kars — or wrecked vehicles.  But, often the person giving this advice is a customs broker !  To be fair, we also earn money providing a service to people who buy cars here, so if you import a vehicle yourself, then we obviously can’t help you or earn our keep. This article attempts to objectively look at the issue and offer you advice depending on your situation. Read More

Should I use a company to buy the car ?

Two door version Toyota RAV4 1998-1999 models

A lot of people have been told to use an S.A. to buy the car, for the purpose of asset protection. This may or may not be good advice. Some lawyers charge $500 and more to set up the company and there are some disadvantages you will encounter:

  • You will always need an up to date “personería juridica” when you do something with the car (RTV inspection, insure it, pay the annual marchamo – property tax, base insurance)
  • The company has to file a tax return each year in September and pay a stamp in March. This is obligatory, whether or not you have economic activity in the company.
  • The legislative assembly is discussing a tax bill that will charge $200 annually for companies.
  • Being in an S.A. protects the car in case you are sued, but the vehicle is more likely a source of liability (due to accidents) so in most cases the protection is limited.
  • Board members – you need to have different members of the board and a legal representative. This can cause problems later, for example if the lawyer fires his secretary and she is on your board, then you will have to replace her. An unscrupulous or careless attorney can cause you to lose control of the company that will own the vehicle if people are granted powers in the incorporation that they should not have. Ask your attorney about making a Responsibilidad Limitada (partnership or sole proprietor) rather than a Sociedad Anonima (S.A.) to avoid this.
Advantages
Are there advantages to having the company own a car? You may want to have the car in a company name if it will mean you can declare it for local taxes or you are using it for a business. It does protect the vehicle if you are faced with a civil suit for some reason not related to the car, so if it is a very expensive car and this is a consideration, you may want to have it in a company. If you are arrested for some reason having the car in a company name could protect it. If you have an accident with the car, the car could not be placed under a lien as a part of the civil suit arising from the accident. If you do decide to use a company, make sure:
  • The company should not own bank accounts or real estate, only the vehicle. (unless it is a related business enterprise)
  • Consult with your lawyer or CPA about what documents you must file for the company and when.
  • Get a personería jurídica from your lawyer. This can also be obtained when necessary from the service window at the Registro Nacional, it is pretty straightforward process that anyone can do.

Costa Rica Vehicle Registration – Transfer Process

VW Beetle (new style)

Vehicle registration in Costa Rica goes through the National Registry

In Costa Rica, vehicle registration or transfer done using a lawyer one of 2 ways.  Transfer costs are roughly 3.5 % of the fiscal value of the car according to tables the Registry uses; which may be higher, lower or the same as market value. You can base it on market value to get a rough estimate, this should include lawyer’s fees and all taxes. Read More