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Old 9 Jun 2010
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Talking Selling a US registered bike in Central America

Can anyone tell me whats involved? Im on my way to Costa Rica and would like to sell my Delaware registered bike there. Its a trooper of an old Kawasaki KZ750 Spectre if anyones interested
Cheers, Colm
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Old 10 Jun 2010
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I do not have Costa Rica-specific experience on this subject, but I do have substantial experience in other Central American countries, most specifically Honduras. Perhaps someone else has some Costa Rican experience.

When you enter Mexico and each Central American country with your U.S.-registered motorcycle, you are going to obtain from that country's customs office a temporary vehicle permit. The main reason that this permit is temporary is that the customs office's biggest concern is that you are going to sell your motorcycle in their country, and do so without paying import taxes on the motorcycle.

In order to sell your motorcycle, you will first need to "nationalize" it, which is a process that usually takes weeks or months. You will have to pay import taxes which are typically 25-45% of the value of the bike, you will have to have the title and serial numbers on the bike verified by customs, and you will have to fill out forms and make processing payments to the government, usually by depositing money in a government bank account.

Once the bike has been nationalized, you can sell it in that country.

In your case, an additional issue may be that many of the countries have an age limit on vehicles that can be nationalized. Typically, a motorcycle can only be nationalized if it is less than ten years old. If it is older than the age limit, you can still obtain a temporary permit, but you must leave the country with the bike prior to the expiration date.
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Old 10 Jun 2010
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Same here in El Salvador have to pay all import taxes and iva, with 7 year old maximum for any kind of vehicle
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Old 13 Jun 2010
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Selling Moto in Costa Rica


Costa Rica is unique amongst Central American countries when it comes to the purchase/sale of all vehicles. The reason is an ´import tax´ that is about 40-60% of the black book value of your bike. Not what the bike sold for or is actually worth, but a historical and arbitrary value determined by the CR beurocracy. That is why even older, used motorcycles are considerably more expensive here than in the US. Check the Import Tax on this site:

Auto Valor

You will be allowed to legally operate your moto down here for a 90-day Grace Period.

If you tell them at the border that you want to sell the moto in CR or are moving to CR then they will probably insist you pay the import tax and register the vehicle at the border. If they do ask, tell them you are continuing south after a nice tour of their beautiful country, then you will only have to pay for local liability insurance (about $15 for 90 days). You can operate your moto in the country for the entire Grace Period as long as you have a valid motorcycle license from your own country. (Your drivers license will be honored here for 90 days, the same time frame as your passport.)

Trying to sell a bike here?

Rule 1- Bikes larger than 250 cc are considered big bikes and the market is small for them. Ticos like smaller bikes because they are fuel efficient and they are much cheaper to register and operate. The reason is that wages are not good in CR and most ticos don´t make enough money to afford even a smaller moto. Alot of guys have to finance even a ´used´150 cc. (At about 15% interest!) Plus small bikes cut through city traffic easier and most roads down here are not designed for large bikes.

Big bikes are found here but the demand is very small. They are owned by the few guys around Escazu and San Jose who have money. (Down here, there is a large gap between those with money and those without.) Those with money own late model Adventure style BMW´s, KLR´s and a few V-stroms and KTM 990´s.

Your bike doesn´t really fit either of these local consumer markets.
You can study Craigslist to learn gringo demographics.

costa rica motorcycles/scooters classifieds - craigslist

And study CRMOTOS to study Tico demographics.

Clasificados CR Motos

Better yet, post your bike on these sites today and see what kind of responses you get.

If you are operating your moto beyond the aforementioned Grace Period, your moto will be confiscated at one of the several Transit Police roadside stops. To get your moto back, you will first have to register your moto in CR. This means paying the Import Tax, and the Marchamo (annual registration) and the RTV (vehicle safety/emissions inspection) and the fines.

Confusing? Sorry.

Now, lets say you wish to move here or you wish to register your bike here to expedite selling it. OK. First off, you will have to have your title from the US and your passport and cash.

All title transfers must be performed in front of an attorney/notary public.
You can´t just sign the title over to a private party in your driveway like you can in the US. The attorney will process your application and forward all the paperwork to the MOPT (Costa Rica DMV). The attorney will expect payment at time of service, this will include the attorney fees as well as the Import Tax and Marchamo. As soon as you pay the attorney, then he will provide you a copy of the paperwork and this will allow you to operate your moto legally as long as it has passed the RTV or Riteve inspection.

The RTV (Riteve) is a privately operated inspection facility that enforces the safety and environmental regulations of the country. A current RTV sticker must be displayed on a vehicle operated on public roads. They are valid for one year. The inspection process includes checking the brakes, all lighting, tires, i.e. mechanical worthiness. The second part of the inspection involves checking the emissions.

The attorney costs are typically paid for by the buyer. The buyer will only pay you for the moto once the attorney has determined you are the legal owner of the moto and there are no encumbrances against it like outstanding tickets, etc.

Your new registration and title will arrive at the attorney´s office in about 4-6 weeks.

Clear as mud?

Also, if anyone sees any errors in what I have said, please point it out. I´ve been typing so long I have become cross-eyed. Thanks.

Last edited by ArcticRider; 15 Jun 2010 at 17:25.
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Old 15 Jun 2010
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Import Tax

This is an approximate cost of the Import Tax (as of 14/10/2009).
This does not include the Marchamo (annual registration).

Exchange rate: 540 colones =US $1 (approximate).

Kawasaki KZ750.

Year................ BlackBook................. Import Tax

1984................290,000.....................15 1,090

1983................250,000.....................13 0,250

1982................220,000.....................11 4,620

1981................190,000......................9 8,990

1980................170,000......................8 8,570

1979................150,000......................7 8,150

1978................130,000......................6 7,730
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