All legally registered vehicles in Costa Rica are recorded in the Vehicle Section of the Public Registry. As such your first step when you are purchasing a vehicle is to have a vehicle title search to ensure the vehicle is free from any liens or encumbrances. You can search the vehicle database at the National Registry web site which is rnpdigital.com (You can watch our video on how to access the National Registry in our website video gallery)
You also need to verify that the vehicle registration (Tarjeta de Circulacion – Marchamo) is up to date when you purchase the vehicle. All vehicles in Costa Rica also require an inspection referred to locally as Riteve. Make sure you vehicle inspection is up to date when you purchase the vehicle.
In order to transfer title to a vehicle in Costa Rica, it is necessary to execute a formal bill of sale before a Notary Public. The Notary Public will issue a bill of sale document (Escritura de Traspaso). The Notary Public will then record that bill of sale in the National Registry. It generally takes about 30 days for the sale to be recorded. When the process is finalized the Notary Public should return to you the original deed and the new Certificate of Title (Certificado de Propiedad).