In January of 2018 Costa Rica passed legislation to promote the use of electric vehicles in the country. In brief, the law offers many incentives that lower the price of electric vehicles and also offers incentives to the drivers of electric vehicles. These provisions mostly apply to new and used vehicles that are just arriving to Costa Rica, not those already circulating. You can click here, Law 9518 The Promotion and Development of Electric Transportation, to see the full text in Spanish. Following is a summary of the contents in English.
Law 9518 obliges many government institutions to take specific actions that will promote the use of EVs and ease the transition to this type of vehicle. The Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) must make policies and publicize information that promotes the use of EVs. MINAE also must foment and coordinate inter-institutional cooperation among government agencies, municipalites and public institutions to promote EV use and acceptance.
The Ministry of Transportation and Public Works (MOPT) must issue directives to ensure compliance with the law and establish objectives regarding the substitution of ICE vehicles with EVs, this applies to public and private fleets. Provide certification for EVs imported to Costa Rica, to ensure they meet the requirements and may receive the benefits outlined in this law.
The National Learning Institute (INA) must formulate courses that will train people to work in the maintenance and repair of EVs.
Incentives and Tax Benefits
All used cars are exempted from the VAT of 13%, while new cars pay this tax. New EVs are exempted from the 13% VAT. Both types don’t pay taxes in customs, 20% on brand new vehicles and up to 80% on used cars. However the 100% exemption only applies to the first $30,000 of the customs valuation of the vehicle. This amount is the retail value of the vehicle overseas, plus maritime insurance value, plus shipping. For cars over $30,000 the next $15,000 of value receives 50% exemption on VAT and 75% to 100% on customs taxes. The $45,000 to $60,000 range must pay VAT, but still receives a %0% to 100% exemption on customs taxes, while the amounts over $60,000 pay all taxes. These exemptions are valid for 5 years from the law’s publication.
EV parts are also exempted from customs and VAT tax, but only batteries and the electric motor that provides the propulsion of the vehicle. Equipment used to assemble or manufacture EVs also is exempted from the VAT, as long as the added value is over 20%. These exemptions are valid for 10 years from the law’s publication.
The annual property tax charged within the vehicle circulation permit (marchamo), is exempted for EVs when they are produced in Costa Rica or assembled here. This exemption is for the first 5 years, 100% the first year and then 20% less exemption each year.
The license plate restriction for downtown San Jose doesn’t apply to EVs. Municipal governments may exempt EVs from paying parking fees in city spaces. EVs may park in designated blue spaces in shopping centers, public parking lots, supermarkets, and other private parking areas. Although these spaces may not displace the mandatory spaces outlined in law Number 7600 – equal opportunities for handicapped persons.
Obligations of the Executive Branch and Public Institutions
MINAE will emit directives to facilitate the use and circulation of EVs. Public Institutions are authorized to promote the replacement of their fleets with EVs, for this purpose competitions for public projects must give 10% additional value in the scoring system to bids offering EVs. Also public institutions must elaborate their projects to contemplate reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, improved vehicle technology, renewable energy sources and fuel savings over fossil fuel powered vehicles.
Public institutions must realize the investment in infrastructure necessary to strengthen and promote transportation using EVs. This includes charging stations, exclusive traffic lanes, rail lines, parking spaces and others.
Public institutions must make educational campaigns that promote the benefits of electric transport, and other means of efficient transportation.
Obligations of EV Importers
MINAE must maintain a list of EV models offered by importers in Costa Rica. ( Actual Statistics and List of New EV models ) Importers must offer the latest generation models, and maintain a supply of accessories and parts for models they offer. Importers must also offer the service of repair and maintenance checks for models they offer, and must ensure compliance with Law Number 8839 – Integrated Waste Management – with regards to EV batteries.
This law requires that renewable energy be a priority in public transportation. The government must promote the importation and local production of these types of technologies used in transportation.
Electric trains must be available nationwide. Bus lines must slowly replace their buses with electric buses, the replacement criteria must be developed by MOPT, according to financial possibilities and technology/logistics applying to each route.
Student and tourist transportation companies are subject to priorities to be established by MOPT, so that in time only EVs may offer this transportation.
Taxis – are specifically included in the tax benefits and incentives under this law. When MOPT issues new permits, 10% must be EVs.
The construction and implementation of charging stations is the responsibility of the electricity providers. MINAE must supervise the functioning of these stations. National roads must have a charging point available every 80 kilometers. County roads must have a charging point every 120 kilometers. MINAE may adjust these distances via regulations, and charging stations must provide statistics on their use within their premises, and also information regarding the next or nearby charging stations.
Sale of Electricity in Charging Stations
Only the authorized distributors of electricity may sell electricity for charging stations. These distributors may form alliances with other entities under various business models to install charging stations.
MOPT will create regulations to include charging stations in new parking areas. Public institutions must implement charging stations in their facilities.
The national banks are authorized and obliged to create favorable financing for EVs
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