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.
Update: In 2020 the National Registry stopped issuing new property titles full details below
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.
Update 2021 — Fully Digital Titles
Digital property titles became the standard in 2020, the National Registry stopping issuing new physical property titles for new vehicles or transfer of title to new owners. Traffic police can no longer require you to show the property title, but the information is online if they need to check for some reason they have the information. The RTV technical inspection no longer requires you to show the title either, they look it up online as well.
IF you really want the physical title, 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 (as documented on the National Registry web site)
Procedure for Replacement of Vehicle Property Title
The application must be made by the proprietor of the vehicle in person at the Registry office and must meet the following requirements:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
If you are looking to purchase a used or new car in Costa Rica, wheelsCR.com 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.
Click here, General Information, for answers to the most common questions on a variety of topics regarding vehicles in Costa Rica.