vehicle prices in Costa Rica

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    We are evaluating the possibility of retiring in CR. We have vacationed there and obviously would have to actually live there for a year or so before REALLY moving.

    Being from the USA where everyone has 3 cars in the garage, I am curious about the situation over there. I am aware that it is not practical to bring a car from the states and it’s certainly not realistic to have more that one vehicle(if any) but what are the options and what would it cost?

    For example take a Toyota Rav 4 which retails for about $22000 here. What would something like that cost new in CR and would you be able to find a 2 or 3 year old vehicle and at what cost? I guess I am reluctant to sell my “security blanket on wheels” and end up having to buy a 10 year old vehicle with a bizillion miles on it. Based on our desire to live out away from the city and away from sterile gated “American Only” communities” I feel that a vehicle would probably be necessary. I am using the Rav 4 as an example for this but it could be any vehicle. Can anyone give me any insight into this??(For some reason I cannot seem to download any classified newspaper ads.) Thanks


    try tico times. they have A classified section. I read it all the time to gleen info.


    New cars appear to be about 20%-25% more expensive than here in the states.


    I bought a new Toyota RAV here in 1999, they are currently selling for $32,000 – Great car!



    Just wanted to clarify, when you say $32,000, do you mean that the 1999 RAV 4 is selling used for $32,000 or for a new 2006 model?
    Thanks, Debbie


    I thought that you could import one car every 2 years economically? Shipping via miami is around 800. Then there’s just the paperwork? RIGHT?? Please help me out here


    “Then there’s just the paperwork” has taken three months for some people. There are also import duties whcih can be considerable depending on the age and model of the car.

    The ‘Costa Rica Cars – New or Used?’ is an important article and talks about import duties at:



    I imported my used Jeep Cherokee a couple of years ago. Cost $495 to ship from Tampa to Limon, which includes all the paperwork. Shipping costs about the same from Miami. Costs more if you want to ship it in a container.

    Tip #1: Remove your radio. Otherwise it will probably get stolen.
    Tip #2: Get a Costa Rican customs broker to handle getting it through Costa Rican customs.

    It costs me $5,500 for the car (book value was around $8,000) and $6,400 for customs.

    You can buy a new car in Costa Rica much cheaper than buying in the U.S. and importing it yourself.

    I would never buy a used car in Costa Rica. Costa Rican dealers buy high milage used cars at auctions in Tampa, cars U.S. dealer won’t touch. Discovered this when I went shopping for a used car for a friend. I wrote down the VIN’s at the cars we looked at a checked them out with Carfax.

    Pro of buying a new car in Costa Rica is that is the most economical.
    Con of buying a new car in Costa Rica is the high cost of insurance and the difficulty of getting paid if the car is in an accident or is stolen. Most people in Costa Rica don’t have auto insurance. I don’t, although I do carry the the towing insurance. $52/yr and well worth it.



    Due in part to the convenience of having a car waiting for us when we arrived, we opted to go the new car route. Arranged the whole thing via the Internet. I’m not sure we got much of a discount from list price, but I still can’t tell if new cars here are ever discounted.

    The shocks (2) came when we decided to go for the optional insurance and when we paid this year’s “marchamo”. The optional liabiity insurance (public liability and property damage) were cheap, but the collision and theft insurance were heartstoppers. Still, the risk of losing this expensive (to us) car and having no coverage made it a no-brainer.

    The “marchamo” is the annual cost of renewing your registration. It includes the legally required minimum (and very minimal) public liability insurance and a handful of taxes. The taxes are based upon the value of your car. The more valuable the car, the higher the taxes. You can’t drive without paying the marchamo, so there’s no use crying about it.

    I think I know that the marchamo goes down a little each year as your vehicle declines in value and that the optional insurance declines, too, if you make no claims. Sound familiar?


    Can you tell us how to arrange purchasing a car by internet? What site would that be? Thanks.


    Jessica, do a Google search on “new cars + Costa Rica” and you’ll find a site that lists most brands available here. Decide what you’re interested in, then send the importer an e-mail and get the ball rolling. You’ll have to send money via international wire transfer.

    I was not able to discern if prices are at all negotiable. I asked the dealer for his lowest “Ticos only” price, but I don’t know if I did any better than list or not. New cars here don’t have window stickers like in the States. Also, there appears to be only one importer of new cars of each brand, so you’re stuck with that source.

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