Helpful reminders when living in Costa Rica: Regarding Vehicles

Helpful reminders when living in Costa Rica: Regarding Vehicles

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Before December 31st to pay without penalties: Payment of your Marchamo (or right to circulate in motor vehicles in Costa Rica). This is similar to paying for your yearly license plate taxes in the United States. This can be paid at almost any bank and is required for all vehicles registered in Costa Rica. The Costa Rican banks give you the option to pay online if you have an account with them. It does vary yearly since the price of the marchamo is determined by your vehicle model, year and brand.  Note: If you received tickets for driving infringements and have not paid them, you will need to pay them along with the Marchamo. You can find the amount to pay online here

Who can pay the Marchamo?

Anyone can pay for the marchamo by simply providing the license plate number; it doesn’t have to be paid by the owner of the vehicle. To pay the marchamo, your vehicle has to pass the RTV (Riteve) inspection (see details below). After paying for the marchamo at a local bank or directly at INS, they will give you a new official circulation card. You cannot lose this card and you have to have it in your car at all times. This card comes with a sticker that is required to be placed in the corner of your windshield. The sticker may distort or lose color from the sun, but you will have the card to show that you are current. Keep the card in the glove box and the sticker on the windshield. If you lose either one of these or your card is stolen, you will need to go to INS and request a new one, with specific documentation.

Riteve (RTV):

This test is equivalent to the emissions testing in North America. You are required to do this each year for your vehicle; for older cars and for almost brand new cars every two years. You have to make an appointment to have your vehicle run through the tests. This should be done by the latest during the month of the last digit of the license plate number of your license plates.  To make the appointment Click Here and You have to enter your license plate number. The other option is to call the RTV office to make an appointment.  Appointments: 905-RTV-0000, 905-788-0000 – Questions: 800-RTV-0000, 800-788-0000. Generally individuals can get an appointment within the first two weeks after making the appointment. You will get a confirmation date and time together with a list of requirements to present the day of the appointment. The cost of the test is around 12,000 colones or $24.00.  (Us dollars)

Required Documentation:

  • Title deed to the car (Titulo de propiedad) or Certification of the deed issued from the National Registry.

  • Registration card from INS (Marchamo or Tarjeta de circulación)

  • Your passport or Residency Card.

RTV checks on your car’s CO2 levels, lights, breaks, shocks, tires and so on. Your car will go through various tests. It is recommended to have your car inspected and fixed before going to your RTV appointment in order to avoid failing the test or you will have to do it all over again.

Other important tips:

You should always keep a copy of the deed to your car (preferably a certification issued from the National Registry) in the glove box of your car along with your Marchamo card and your Riteve card. Keep the original deed for your vehicle in a safe place.

If you are leaving the country with your vehicle, you have to get a permit to exit the car from the country. This can be done at the nearest national registry branch and you should have your car documentation and corporate if applicable to the ownership of the vehicle with you.

Helpful Reminders When Living in Costa Rica

By Kristi Penland
Attorney at Law / Abogada
Uvita, Osa, Puntarenas

* These are helpful reminders made intended to assist with yearly items. Such items, laws, amounts and contact links and numbers are based on current information at the time of writing this document and therefore all items are subject to change. Any links or professional services referenced in this document are entirely separate from our offices and are intended to help, but is left up to the receiving Party to decide to use such services or not. Furthermore, this may not be the entire realm of information on any given subject;

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