Permit for vehicle to leave Costa Rica (temporary exit)

feature image river crossing

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.

Basic Procedure for individual owners (physical persons)
1) All applications must be signed in the presence of the National Registry worker who receives the document.  Each applicant must present their identification.

Getting an Exit Permit for Costa Rica Registered Vehicles

2) If the registered owner is unable to present the application, it must be signed by the owner and the signature authenticated by a notary.
Download the Form You Need (right click recommended)

Time required: The permit is delivered immediately by the Registry if all requirements are met.

Fees & Stamps:
¢5000 Nacional Registry Fee


– ¢2,50 Nacional Registry
– ¢300,00 Nacional Registry
– ¢12,50 Fiscal
– ¢5,00 National Archive

If the application is notarized, a stamp of ¢250 from the Bar Association is required.

Consulting Validity of Permits:
Permits may be consulted in the Consulting Module of the National Registry, however consultations must be made by permit number, they are not available according to license plate. The screen will indicate the permit’s place of issue, date, time, expiration date, and name of issuer.

Special cases:

Your ID on title doesn’t match actual ID If the identification number is different from that which appears in the registry, then the applicant must present a notary certification that declares that it is the same person, or a sworn statement indicating to the Registry that indicates the circumstances, as well as freeing the National Registry from any responsibility, this must be notarized.  An authenticated copy may be presented, or the original and a copy which the registry worker will authenticate.

Vehicle Held In Company Name If the vehicle is registered in the name of a corporation, which is registered in the database of the National Registry, then the person applying for the permit does not need to present the “personería jurídica” (articles of incorporation). However, if the the entity which owns the vehicles is written into the TOMES archives, then there is a 5 work day waiting period due to the registry study that must be performed.  OR the applicant may present the articles of incorporation certifying who holds the power to act in the company’s name, this certificate must be notarized and less than 2 months old and a notarized copy may be presented.

Multiple Permits, Same Company If multiple permites are solicited in the name of the same company, only one “personería jurídica is necessary, but a copy of the identification of the person authorized to apply for the permit is needed.

Changes to Title Information in Progress Exit Permits may be processed even though changes in the characteristics of the vehicle are in process, for example color, motor number, etc.  Therefore copies of these requests are not necessary.

Car Loan Registered If the vehicle has a lein, then the lein holder must authorize the exit of the vehicle from Costa Rica. This authorization must be notarized, and a “certificación de personería jurídica” less than 60 days old must be presented. If there are several vehicles with the same lein holder, then only one authorization is needed if the applications are presented at the same time.

Taxi or Buses Vehicles with taxi or bus license plates, must also present the MOPT authorization, and the INS certification that the vehicle has extraterretorial insurance, both with an age of less than 1 month.

Tourism Vehicles Vehicles with tourism license plates, must also present the ICT authorization, and the INS certification that the vehicle has extraterretorial insurance.

Government or Public Institution Owned Vehicles with public institution or government plates, must present a letter requesting the permit from the appropriate administrator, on institution stationary and with an official seal.

University & Autonomous Institutions Vehicles with state university or autonomous institution plates, must present a letter requesting the permit from the representative, on institution stationary and with an official seal, plus “certificación de personería jurídica”.

Diplomatic or NGO Vehicles Vehicles with embassy or international organization plates, must present a letter requesting the permit from the representative or ambassador, and a note from the Ministry of Foreign Relations.  If the vehicle is in the name of an individual, then only a letter on institution stationary and with an official seal is needed.

Pensioner Cars Vehicles with Pensioner plates, must present a letter and a note from ICT certifying that the individual is up-to-date with their obligations.

Blocked Transfers of Ownership Any vehicle that has a defective transfer of ownership status, must supply a certified microfilm or digital copy of the transfer.

Applications via Power of Attorney If the application is presented with a limited power of attorney, it must be written into the public registry, either the original or a certified copy may be presented, or a plain photocopy may be presented with the original and certified by the Registry functionary.

Vehicles Named in Court Documents or Traffic Violations In accordance with Article 95 Paragraph d) of the National Property Registry Regulations, exit permits will not be granted for vehicles that are subject to judicial annotations (embargos, collisions, traffic violations, etc), the interested party must eliminate the annotation through normal channels or present authorization of the authority which created the annotation.

If you are looking to purchase a used or new car in Costa Rica, can help you with our PASS service. Click here, used car buying assistance in Costa Rica for details. Click here, New Cars in Costa Rica for information on the peculiar process.

If you would like to see information about other vehicle types and models, click here — Vehicle Makes and Models in Costa Rica — for a list of articles on our site.

Published by Russ Martin

Helping expats locate reliable used vehicles since 2006. I have lived in Costa Rica since 1994.

4 thoughts on “Permit for vehicle to leave Costa Rica (temporary exit)

  1. Good info but you never mentioned where you have to go to get it done. Is this in a bank or only at the border?

  2. Thanks for the info! Do you happen to have a link to a list of National Registry locations?

    I would particularly interested in locations at Puntarenas and Liberia.

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