Considering a Car in Costa Rica: Should You Ship Yours or Buy Locally? - Expat Community

Considering a Car in Costa Rica: Should You Ship Yours or Buy Locally?

Sep 8, 2023 | Costa Rica, Knowledge Base | 0 comments

Pondering whether to bring your own car to Costa Rica or to buy one locally? Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you decide.

Purchasing a Car in Costa Rica:

Buying New: Internationally recognized car brands offer the most reliability when buying new in Costa Rica. However, it’s not the cheapest option, especially given the high import taxes. For context, a new Toyota 4Runner starts at a staggering $68,000 because vehicles are roughly double the U.S. price due to these taxes.

Buying Used: Used cars can be found via message boards, word of mouth, or third-party agents. For instance, a 2005 Nissan Xterra with 130,000+ miles may cost around $9000. However, anticipate potential mechanical issues. It’s crucial to have a reliable mechanic, who can also assist with the mandatory annual inspection, Dekra, for around $80.

Shipping Your Own Vehicle: Considering shipping your car? Ensure you own it outright and have the title. Shipping costs range between $2000-4000, affected by distance from major ports and whether you choose roll-on roll-off (RORO) or container shipping. RORO doesn’t allow additional items, while container shipping might, and is generally safer for your vehicle. Import taxes, calculated on the perceived value of your car, are steep, with vehicles less than three years old taxed at 52.29%, four to five years old at 63.91%, and six years or older at 79.03%.

Additional Points:

  • Dekra is the annual inspection process, and Marchamo is an annual insurance-related fee.
  • Consider fuel efficiency and maintenance costs, as diesel offers better mileage, especially for 4WD SUVs. However, gasoline engines might be more cost-effective in the long term.
  • Always use an attorney for purchasing in Costa Rica. Some recommended names are Quatro Legal and Outlier Legal.
  • Ensure to get third-party insurance, which costs around $250/year for a typical vehicle, increasing with added coverage.
  • In summary, whether importing or buying locally, owning a vehicle allows you to fully explore Costa Rica’s diverse landscapes. Always factor in hidden costs and ensure you’re well-informed before making a decision.

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