The Arenal Area Magazine

Costa Rica Auto Shipping


Costa Rica Auto Shipping

Whether you want to ship your car by air, sea or by land, there are certain regulations that need to be met, and rules that need to be followed. You will find details of all of these here.

Before you begin, you need to decide which mode of transport you are going to choose. Then you can narrow the field of international auto shipping agents to choose from. Sea freight is the preferred method, and there are 3 ports where your vehicle can enter Costa Rica: Puerto Limon largest port, Puerto Caldera and San Jose.

Once you have decided on your method of transport, you will need to take note of and be able to meet the following points:

Documents Required:

* Original receipt of purchase for the vehicle being transported
* All registration documentation pertaining to the vehicle

Fees and Taxes payable:

There is a high tax charge when bringing your vehicle into Costa Rica using international auto shipping. Some examples of the taxes charged are: Import tax; sales tax; consumption tax etc. No amount is set as there are various items that are taken into consideration when calculating your tax payable. For instance:

* The value of your car
* The model of your car
* The year it was purchased
* Consumption levels and engine capacity

These are all take into account and a unique amount is presented to you.

It can be arranged, upon your physical entry into Costa Rica, that you drive your vehicle for 3 months without paying tax. This can be discussed with the Consulate of Costa Rica.

Gas Emissions Certificate:

You will need to obtain a gas emissions clearance certificate that has been issued within 30 days of the vehicle arriving in Costa Rica. Without this document stating that your car has been cleared for entry based on its levels of gas emissions, you will not be able to transport your car via international auto shipping into the country.

Customs Procedures:

One more decision you will need to make is: are you going to import the car by yourself, or will you use the services of a freight forwarder? Most people choose to use the services of freight forwarders as they will know exactly what is required and have all the relevant contacts. Added to this, they will be local and able to speak the language.

However, if you choose to import the car yourself, it is strongly advised to do so in San Jose. The reason behind this is that your vehicle will be cleared far quicker here than at the other two ports where you would probably be required to stay overnight.

New Safety Equipment Required for Vehicles in Costa Rica

A new law (”Ley de Transito”) will take effect in Costa Rica, causing sweeping, dramatic changes for drivers of vehicles in Costa Rica.

Safety and Booster Seats: Perhaps the most costly change for parents

(and those who regularly transport minors) across the nation. As

mentioned above, the following details are certain to be challenged and

adjusted. (An example given is, people obligated to travel with several

children falling in the same age group might immediately be forced to

acquire a car with more than one rear seat, or risk a loss of the driver’s

license for two years, according to these new changes. Some wonder if

certain children will be left with no options to get to school legally, and

others are concerned the change will flood the roadways with large,

inefficient vehicles.) But as it was written, these are the new requirements:

Infants to one year: Must travel in an infant car seat located in

the rear seat behind the driver, and with the infant facing the rear

window.

Children 1 – 4 years: Must use a safety seat according to age

and weight. Must be located in the center of the vehicle and

secured with a two-point seat belt.

Children 4 – 12 years: Must use a booster seat (“cojin elevado”) which must be

located in the lateral seats and secured with a three-point seat belt.

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Older than 12 years: May travel in the rear and without a booster seat if the seat

belt of the car does not reach their neck. The seat belt should always go over shoulder

and crossing the chest. If the seat belt touches the neck, they may be strangled or cut in

an accident.

Booster seats may not be used in the central seats where two-point seat belts

are the regulation. MOPT has yet to elaborate on specifications for required

safety seats. Violations of safety seat regulations carry a fine of c227,00 and a

loss of the totality of 50 license points, and thus a loss of the license for two

years.

Hands-free cell adaptors: Few are arguing with this change, which although it’s not a new

law, will bring a new steep sanction. Required: a hands-free (“manos libres”) adaptor for cell

phone usage while driving. Fine: c170,250 Points lost: 20

Reflective vest and triangles: Vest (“chaleco retroflectivo”) may be green, orange, or red,

and must be used when performing any roadside maintenance, and is required clothing for

cyclists of any kind (motor or otherwise) from a half hour before sunset to a half hour before

dawn. Triangles must also be placed in the roadway prior to performing any maintenance. Fine:

c68,100 Points lost: 15

Tool kit: Tire tool (“llave de ranas”), jack (“gato”), jumper cables (“lagartos”), and a

questionably-termed “basic tool kit” (“juego de herramientos basicos”) which may or may not

just be the tire-changing tools. Fine: c68,100 Points lost: 15 (same infraction as above, not

separate infractions).

Fire extinguisher and First Aid Kit: Also included in fine above. There are no specifics of

what size the extinguisher (“extintor de incendio”) must be, nor the exact contents of the first

aid kit (“botiquin”). Included with infraction above.

Airbags: (“Airbags”) For those automobiles designed with airbags, although many are

wondering how or if a Transit Official will inspect for a working airbag prior to an accident. Fine:

c68,100 Points lost: 20

Three-point seat belts: For lateral seats and two-point seat belts for central seats.

(“Cinturones de seguridad de tres puntos/dos puntos”) Must be worn. Fine: c170,250 Points

lost: 20

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Helmets: (“Cascos”) Regardless of age or whether the rider or cyclist has a driver’s license. It’s

not yet determined how or what to fine minors who do not comply. Fine: c170,250 Points: 20

Bicycles: Cyclists must wear reflective vests from a half-hour before sundown to a half-hour

before sunrise Fine: c90,800 Points: 10, affix reflectors to the frame of the bike and have a red

light in the rear, and use a yellow or white light during the same hours. In rainy or foggy

weather they must wear a yellow jacket/cloak/raincoat and illuminate the bicycle with a white

or yellow light. Fine: c22,700

Reflective tape and triangles for heavy vehicles: Heavy vehicles must affix red and

white reflective tape on both sides and affix reflective triangles to the rear of the vehicle. Fine:

c68,100 Points: 15

Transponders for cargo vehicles: Starting in June 2010, all cargo vehicles will be required

to circulate with GPS Transponders on board. The devices are intended to register load, speed,

location, and travel times and will allow the Transito to fine violators without being present at

the time of the violations, or determine culpability in a transit accident. Transit Officials will be

able to perform surprise inspections of any business with heavy vehicles and request the

Transponder data, download it to a central computer, review it for violations of zones, hours,

speed, load, and issue infractions. The cost for each transponder is estimated at between $350

and $595. Fine for not carrying a transponder or for excess load: c90,800 Points lost: 10

* Safety and Booster Seats:
o Infants to one year: Must travel in an infant car seat located in the rear seat behind the driver, and with the infant facing the rear window.
o Children 1 – 4 years: Must use a safety seat according to age and weight. Must be located in the center of the vehicle and secured with a two-point seat belt.
o Children 4 – 12 years: Must use a booster seat (“cojin elevado”) which must be located in the lateral seats and secured with a three-point seat belt.
o Older than 12 years: May travel in the rear and without a booster seat if the seat belt of the car does not reach their neck. The seat belt should always go over shoulder and crossing the chest. (If the seat belt touches the neck, they may be strangled or cut in an accident).
o Booster seats may not be used in the central seats where two-point seat belts are the regulation. (MOPT has yet to elaborate on specifications for required safety seats. Violations of safety seat regulations carry a fine of 227,000 Colones (about $390 US) and a loss of the totality of 50 license points (more about these “points” in a future posting), and thus a loss of your license for two years!)
* Hands-free cell adaptors: Required: a hands-free (“manos libres”) adaptor for cell phone usage while driving. (Fine: 170,250 Colones; Points lost: 20).
* Reflective vest and triangles: Vest (“chaleco retroflectivo”) may be green, orange, or red, and must be used when performing any roadside maintenance, and is required clothing for cyclists of any kind (motor or otherwise) from a half hour before sunset to a half hour before dawn. Triangles must also be placed in the roadway prior to performing any maintenance. (Fine: 68,100 Colones; Points lost: 15).
* Tool kit: Tire tool (“llave de ranas”), jack (“gato”), jumper cables (“lagartos”), and a vague “basic tool kit” (“juego de herramientos basicos”) which may or may not just be the tire-changing tools. (Fine: 68,100 Colones; Points lost: 15) (Apparently, this is the same infraction as that immediately above, not a separate infraction).
* Fire extinguisher and First Aid Kit: Failure to carry these items is also included in fine set forth above. There are no specifics of what size the extinguisher (“extintor de incendio”) must be, nor the exact contents of the first aid kit (“botiquin”). (I have read on some blogs that fire extinguishers are required only for commercial vehicles, but no one seems to be certain of this).
* Airbags: (“Airbags”) For those automobiles designed with airbags. (How will a Transit Official inspect for a working airbag prior to an accident? Hmmm?) (Fine: 68,100 Colones; Points lost: 20).
* Three-point seat belts: For lateral seats and two-point seat belts for central seats. (“Cinturones de seguridad de tres puntos/dos puntos”). These must be worn. (Fine: 170,250 Colones; Points: 20).

With respect to motorcycles and bicycles, the new requirments are (apparently):

* Helmets: (“Cascos”) These are required regardless of age or whether the rider or cyclist has a driver’s license. (I’m not sure how minors who do not comply will be fined?) (Fine: 170,250 Colones; Points: 20).
* Bicycles: Cyclists must wear reflective vests from a half-hour before sundown to a half-hour before sunrise. (Fine: 90,800 Colones; Points: 10). You must affix reflectors to the frame of the bike and have a red light in the rear, and use a yellow or white light during the same hours. In rainy or foggy weather you must wear a yellow jacket/cloak/raincoat and illuminate the bicycle with a white or yellow light. (Fine: 22,700 Colones).

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