Japan Used Car Import Duty / Regulation in Costa Rica

Year Restrictions

No Age Limit

Destination Port


Time of Shipment

31 to 41 Days (RoRo)

Vessel Schedule


Shipping Line

RoRo (Monthly)


No Inspection Required

Left-Hand Drive Vehicles:

Importation of left-hand drive vehicles is permitted in the country.



Importing is a regulatory process, each country has its own rules and regulation regarding this. These rules are based on the type of terrain, roads of the concern country and environmental conditions. Likewise, Costa Rica is a rugged, rainforested Central American country with coastlines on the Caribbean and Pacific.


Costa Rican customs procedures are complex and bureaucratic. It is highly recommended to check with your embassy, and ensure the updated information on the rules and regulations of your country.


In Costa Rica an importer can import used vehicles in one of two ways

  • Temporary Entry Permit
  • Importation

Temporary Entry Permit:

When a person import on temporary entry import then the application can be made at the port of the entry. This is in a case if the owner of the vehicle is on a tourist visa, there are no import duties to be paid. The vehicle owner must provide the following documents

The temporary entry permit is issued to tally with the length of tha stay, usually for a 90- day period. When this period expires, the imported car must be taken out of Costa Rica permanently, or must be registered with Costa Rican license plates. Those vehicles are not allowed to leave the country within the time period expires,and also Vehicles that do not leave the country within the time period specified to import taxes.


Note: It may be possible to renew the temporary entry permit for a further 90 days.

Documents Required:

The Vehicle Arrives in Costa Rica:

To collect a vehicle after it has been shipped to Costa Rica, the owner should go in person to the vehicle’s point of entry. This is likely to be Puerto Limón, Puerto Caldera or, if a supplement has been paid, San José.

All taxes and duties must be paid before the vehicle can be released. It is recommended that a customs broker or agent is used to assist with the customs process. Shipping companies usually provide a clearing agent in the destination port, often for an additional fee.

Vehicle Inspection:

After you import used car in Costa Rica from Japan, it required to have a valid inspection sticker to circulate on the roads of Costa Rica. The process is referred to as RITEVE. To get the vehicle inspection one need to contact Riteve or make an appointment on their website. Initially you will only be given a temporary document for registration purposes. You will then need to return when the registration of the vehicle is complete. It is very important that you verify that the information contained in your DUA matches exactly the information for your vehicle. If RITEVE determines that there is an error in information during their inspection they will send you back to customs to have it corrected. This correction can take months so do not leave customs until you’re satisfied that all the information in the DUA is correct.

Registration of the vehicle after the arrival of the Vehicle :

Once the vehicle has cleared customs, it must be registered with the National Registry (Registro Nacional). It is advisable to use the services of a lawyer to register a vehicle, as the procedure can be complicated.

  • Registro Nacional
  • At: 215, Curridabat 11801, Zapote, San José. The following documents are needed to register a car (inscripción)
  • Proof of import
  • Valid roadworthiness test

Hire a Notary Public:

Once you have your RITEVE documentation in hand then you will have to hire the services of a Notary Public so that they can draft the legal document which requests the National Registry to register the vehicle. To do this the owner of the vehicle will have to personally appear before the Notary Public or have provided a third party with a Power of Attorney to do so.


The amount of registration costs and fees is based on a sliding scale of the value of the vehicle as it was determined by the tax department. A rough estimate expect to pay around 4.5% of the value of the vehicle to get it registered.


In addition to the registration fees you will also need to pay the vehicle Marchamo which is the annual road circulation tax and mandatory liability insurance. The Marchamos is handled by the National Insurance Institute (INS) and you can determine the amount that needs to be paid on their website.

It can take anywhere from ten to thirty days to get the vehicle registered. This depends if the deed is accepted during the first presentation or if it is defected for any reason and requires correction. Once the vehicle is registered it is inputted into the recording system and assigned a license plate number. Once that is completed then you can request the issuance of the license tags for the vehicle.


You are not done yet. Once you have completed the registration, paid the marchamo and have your license plates you need to go back to the vehicle inspection station RITEVE so they can issue you the final report and the actual sticker proving that the vehicle is now compliant.

You are now done ! At then end of the process your vehicle will have

  • A valid title registration
  • A RITEVE inspection document and window sticker
  • A valid Marchamo and Tarjeta de Circulación (road tax plus mandatory insurance

Vehicle Import Taxes:

There are a number of taxes due when a vehicle is imported into Costa Rica

The taxable amount is based on one of the following:

Import tax rates vary according to the age of the vehicle:

When is the Vehicle Released?

Once the DUA has been accepted by Customs and the taxes for the vehicle have been paid then the vehicle is either sent to verification system where it is generally assigned a green, yellow or red light. Green means you don’t have to do anything else and you can proceed to the next step. With a yellow light it means that a customs officer will manually review all the documentation to ensure that it complies with the information provided. With a red light the vehicle will be subject to a physical inspection by a customs office who will check the vehicle to ensure all the information provided matches up with their physical inspection. Once the Customs Officials are satisfied with the inspection then they will authorize the release of the vehicle and issue a document authorizing the vehicle to leave the bonded warehouse. At this stage you will also have to pay for the services provided by the bonded warehouse and that amount depends on the amount of days the vehicle spent in their custody.
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