Ship a Car to Costa Rica


How to Ship a Car to Costa Rica

Faced with the prospect of shipping a car to Costa Rica, you may be feeling a bit apprehensive. How will you know what to do? Where will you start? How does the whole thing work? Can you afford it? We know it seems daunting, but with our experts guiding the way, the process will be a breeze. Keep reading to learn more about shipping a car to Costa Rica from the USA.

It may put your mind at ease to know we have been shipping cars to and from Costa Rica for more than 35 years. To make the process easier to digest, we have compiled this page brimming with information on everything you need to know about shipping cars from the USA to Costa Rica.

It all begins with a free quote. Please provide the Year/Make/Model of your car, Pickup Zip Code or Departure Port, and Destination Country in Costa Rica so we can give you the most accurate estimate possible.

How Much to Ship a Car to Costa Rica?

  • Costs to ship a car to Costa Rica range from $866 – $1000 for sedans and regular sized SUVs.
  •  Tourists can drive for 3 months without paying taxes. See details below.
  • To qualify for shipping, you car must have a clean Title of Ownership with no liens.

Costs will depend on how big or small your vehicle is.  Another example: it costs more to ship a large SUV or pickup truck than it does a compact car.

Another area regarding pricing is how the car is driven to the port. You’ll pay more if we pick it up from you and get it to the port, vs. if you just bring it to the port on your own. Note: if you choose the latter option, you must arrange transportation back home from the port.

Additional Information

  • As a tourist, you are afforded the right to drive the vehicle for three months without paying taxes. The time begins when you enter the country, not when the vehicle enters the country. For example, if you enter Costa Rica on the 1st of October, but your vehicle enters on the 1st of November, you will only have two months to drive the vehicle, not three. This is very important to keep in mind.
  • You will be required to pay a local tax, some additional fees, all of which add up to around $90.00 US (normally this is all part of the customs procedure). At the end of three months, you have the right to extend the right to drive the vehicle for an additional three months.
  • You have to leave the country prior to the three month limit, anywhere for 48 hours. When you re-enter, they will re-stamp your passport, which will allow you to drive the vehicle for three additional months. If you wait until the three month period is up, theoretically you are required by law to pay the taxes on the vehicle.
  • A clear Title of Ownership with no Liens on the Title.
  • If you bought a car new, then your name must be listed on the front of the Title as the registered owner.
    If the vehicle has been sold, then both the Seller and Buyer have to sign the back of the Title in the spaces as detailed on the back of the Title.
  • For safety reasons, the vehicle cannot have more than a ¼ tank of gas.
  • There are 3 main reasons people ship cars to Costa Rica.
  • A Costa Rican Resident bought a car in USA and needs to import it
  • An American, who retired and now resides in Costa Rica, needs to ship their car
  • A traveler just wants to ship their car from USA to CR and drive back.
  • The fist two situations will have to pay import duty. The traveler won’t have to pay import duty.

Vehicle Import Duty For Costa Rica

If you are in USA, contact the Costa Rica Embassy by phone.

Embassy of Costa Rica
2114 S St NW
Washington, DC 20008

If you are in Costa Rica, please visit the Costa Rica Aduanas Website

Offering weekly sailings from ports in the USA to Costa Rica

Our shipping vessels depart on a weekly basis from U.S. seaports to the ports of Puerto Limon and San Josein Costa Rica.

To get it there, you can choose from these two options:

RoRo Shipping – These vessels are specifically designed to ship wheeled cargo such as cars and motorcycles. In order to choose this option, your vehicle must work because it will have to be driven onto the ship via a ramp.

Container Shipping – Vehicles are placed in a container for transport. Under this option, you have two more choices to make: shared or exclusive. More on all this later.

Puerto Limon

This is the capital city and main hub of Limón province and the second largest city in Costa Rica. The city itself is home to 55,000, and the port is located on the eastern coast of Costa Rica. It’s easily accessible, which makes it such a popular port for car shipments from the USA and elsewhere.

San José

The capital and largest city of Costa Rica, San Jose is situated in the mid-west portion of the Central Valley. Not only is it the seat of national government, it’s also a major transportation hub. The metro area is home to more than two million, and is a popular tourist destination. We ship cars here all the time so we know the process inside and out.

Two Types of Shipping Methods

If this is your first time attempting to ship a car to Costa Rica, sit back and relax. Read through the two main options you have in regards to shipping methods.

RoRo Shipping (Roll On/Roll Off)

First, we have Roll On/Roll Off. This is affordable and convenient,and it happens to be the most popular option for the most amount of people. It’s used for wheeled vehicles such as motorcycles and cars because they are driven onto the ship of their own power. Before choosing this option, please note that your car must be able to make it up and down the ramp without assistance. Your vehicle will be securely tied down in its own spot once loaded onto the vessel.

We don’t just ship cars. This is also a great method of shipping motorhomes, campers, trailers, buses, construction vehicles and even boats. Use this if you only have one vehicle to ship to Costa Rica. With this method, you get efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and reliable departure and arrival dates.

It’s such a popular method that new car manufacturers choose this for shipping their own vehicles, which are tied to the deck with little exposure to the ocean. The result? Good protection against external elements.

Container Shipping

With this method, you are allowed to ship additional items in the trunk or the backseat of your vehicle at the same time. You can’t do that with RoRo. Plus, you can ship vehicles that do not work. For example, we have many clients who buy broken-down classic cars in the USA for shipping to Costa Rica.

Here’s how it works: your car is placed into a container with three other cars (four total)and then is loaded onto the ship. While you get the best protection from the elements, you aren’t guaranteed a fixed departure date as with RoRo, owing to the fact that the container must be filled with vehicles for it to be loaded.

It’s harder to plan the journey with this method, as you could wait an extra week or more until the container is completely filled. However, it’s a wise decision if you plan to ship two or more vehicles.

Shared Container Shipping

This is just like it sounds: your car shares a container with other people’s cars. Each container fits about four vehicles. You are also allowed to ship additional items in the trunk or the backseat of your vehicle, a big advantage over RoRo, where you cannot do this.With shared containers, you can also ship vehicles that do not work. For example, those who buy classic cars in the USA that need repair often choose shared container shipping when shipping to UAE.

Now the drawbacks. Each container must be filled with vehicles in order for it to be loaded onto the container ship and to set sail. Translation: you can’t be guaranteed of a fixed departure date like you are with the RoRo method. This makes it more difficult to plan, as you could be waiting an extra week until the container is filled with the rest of the vehicles.As a result, you would be best off choosing this method when shipping two or more vehicles.

Exclusive Container Shipping

Exclusive container shipping is when your vehicle is the sole vehicle in the container. This option is more expensive compared to RoRo and shared container shipping, but if your budget is generous and you want the peace of mind that comes with protecting your investment, exclusive is the one you want.

Your vehicle is treated to added protection and attention to detail, so if you have a high-end and exotic vehicle like a Bentley, Ferrari, Aston Martin, will want to select this option. Like with shared container, you may also place personal belongings along with your car for the ride and you may ship vehicles that do not work.

Trusted Military Partner

We are glad to serve the Active Military community,backed by expertise in shipping cars from the USA to Costa Rica and importing cars internationally into the USA from Costa Rica. Ship Overseas has been ago-to provider of international car shipping services for more than three decades, making us a leader in the freight forwarding business. This is why so many military members choose us to ship their cars, SUVs, RVs, motorhomes, heavy machinery, boats, yachts and motorcycles.

Active members of the military who are looking to ship their cars to Costa Rica from the U.S. should give us a call for more information. We can review critical factors such as modifications, weight, time limits and licensing.