Used vehicles: Controversy Over Import Controls

Arguing that the objective is to ensure that used cars into Costa Rica are in optimal condition, the new Customs authorities are tightening controls on imported units.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Importers of used vehicles in Costa Rica report that since the new General Director of Customs took office in January this year, is promoting a new guideline that generates uncertainty in the sector.

You may be interested in "Automotive Market: Figures in Costa Rica"

After a demonstration held on February 13 by several importers of used vehicles, Jose Carballo, president of the Costa Rican Automotive Chamber, explained to that "... a new directive of this unit of the Ministry of Finance generates uncertainty in the sector and has about 900 vehicles stranded in customs. Another 3,000 are detained in several U.S. ports, since importers do not want to run the risk of being prevented from entering Costa Rica."

The main complaint of the guild is that at the end of last year Customs took the decision to block entry to vehicles that are identified with the label "Export Only". According to the importers, the label is misinterpreted because it is assumed that the vehicles are not in conditions to circulate.

Also see "Auto Brands in Central America: Figures at the end of 2018" and "Auto parts market figures up to 1st Semester - 2018"

Juan Carlos Gomez, general director of Customs, said that "... no directive has been issued regarding this label, although some changes have been implemented to ensure that used vehicles entering the country have all the security conditions. We need the vehicle arriving in the country to guarantee the consumer that it is a car in good condition, which meets the security required."

According to Article 5 of the Transit Law "... It is prohibited to import for the registration of vehicles that:
a) Have been declared a total loss.
b) Have non-authorized structural chassis connections.
c) Have been tampered with in their identification number, VIN or chassis.
d) Have been taken out of circulation in their country of export.
e) Fail to comply with the general traffic requirement laid down in the paragraph of Article 32 relating to the location of the driver's steering wheel.

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More on this topic

Costa Rica Imports 192 Vehicles Per Day

September 2015

Although it has not yet reached pre-crisis 2008 figures, imports of vehicles continue to grow, with 47,750 units imported in the first eight months of the year.

The Association of Importers of Vehicles and Equipment reported the entry between January and August of 47,750 units, of which 26,561 correspond to new cars and the remaining 21,190 were used ones.

Importers Demand Lower Taxes for Used Cars

July 2013

Sellers of used cars in Costa Rica believe there is discrimination in the way the Ministry of Finance estimates import taxes on cars.

According to Jose Carballo, president of the Costa Rican Automotive Chamber, the industry complains that 52% is charged for new vehicles, while used cars which are over six years old are charged 79%.

Used Car Imports Plummet

December 2012

Affirming the downward trend of recent years, the number of used cars imported into Costa Rica in 2012 was 30% less than in 2011.

The main reason given for less cars being imported in 2012, only 27,000, 8,100 fewer than in the previous year, was a drop in new car prices following the Japanese crisis.

Costa Rica: Vehicle Imports Down 57% in June

August 2009

When compared to 2008, 25.000 less vehicles were imported in the first half of 2009.

Causes include greater requirements by banks when granting loans and more cautious customers, said spokesperson of car selling companies.

"For the remainder of the year, salesmen are expecting a 50% drop when compared to last year", reported newspaper

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