Importing a car, SUV or truck is very expensive, one of the biggest drawbacks and mistakes many make. The government has this “Black Book” of value (which changes all the time) to value a vehicle’s import fees. But to get a general idea, expect to pay between 40-70% ON TOP of what your vehicle is worth (and here is the catch), depending on year/make/model at its new car value. And who is to say, What that Value Is that is placed by the Costa Rica government?
Example: Lets say, you bought your car NEW in 2009 for around $20,000US, it could cost you around $14,000US in import fees. Or lets say you bought it USED at $20,000 and it sold for NEW at $30,000US, the import tax could be as much as $21000US and this ALL depends on the “Black Book Value.”
Here is a quote from a Yahoo Answerer who shared her experience on shipping a truck: We brought a 1994 Chevrolet 6.94 liter turbo diesel, extra long bed, king cab into the country in 1998 in a container by ship freight. We paid a fortune (almost the price of the used car again). This is if you plan to drive there as a resident. This is not just passing through to the next country. It will have to get some kind of emissions test too. Payment is in cash.
Now add the shipping costs which depends on which port you are shipping it from and type of shipping (share or private container) … Ouch!
Now, so when is this import tax due? All import tax and fees are due at the time of entry. And you had better have all the paperwork (title, pink slip, register etc) and it must be in your name. If the vehicle is in the possession of a lien holder, you WILL have problems.
Payment can either be cash and/or bank note from a credited CR Bank. You will not be able to take the car until payment is made. I believe (but do not quote me on it because it changes under certain circumstances) the car will be held for 30 days, then afterward it is sold at a auction to cover the import fees.
And one of the reasons why many see a ton of vehicles abandoned when people are confronted with the costs and can not pay.
And even when paid, it can take up to 2-6 day nightmare to get all the necessary paperwork to get it released and that is why many hire a broker who takes a percentage of the value of the car and/or will do it for a flat fee.
And do not expect CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement) or Costa Rica’s Free Trade to change this in the future.
See a related article: Moving to Costa Rica