Frequently Asked Questions
Can I ship my car/quad/moto?
Yes. If you are interested you should email us with the following
- Vehicle year, make, model and trim level (XLT, etc)
- Motor size
- Type of transmission
- Drive type: 4x4, 4x2, AWD ?
- Will you drop it off in Miami or where do you want it picked up (exact address)?
- Do you want to pick it up in Cartago or have it delivered to you.
- A picture can be useful if available
How are vehicles taxed?
In general, licensed vehicles are taxed according to a class and two related values assigned by Hacienda, by age, make, model and trim level. Vehicles are inspected to ensure that they are road worthy, safe and not salvaged but, otherwise, the conditions of the vehicle, the odometer reading or the value outside of Costa Rica are not considered in that valuation. A tax rate based on the age of the vehicle is applied to a special 'importation value' listed in the applicable class to determine the import taxes.
Why would I want to or not want to import a car or truck?
Whether one "wants to import" or "doesn't want to import" more often than not boils to to a matter of cost. The answer to whether it makes sense to import or not is very case specific involving questions such as where the vehicle is in the US, the age, make and style of vehicle, and the customers particular needs and budget. If you are purchasing a vehicle that is new, or less than say 2 or 3 years old, then I lean strongly in favor of purchasing in Costa Rica -- if you can locate the vehicle you want. Otherwise, importing your vehicle affords three primary advantages: 1) there is a better selection of vehicles to choose from in the US; 2) you can be more confident in what you are getting given a much higher probability of a correct odometer and of repairs being made by qualified technicians with the proper parts; and 3) there is a national database of accident and repair history that you can consult before purchasing. Contrary to most "internet wisdom" the primary argument against importing is actually the hassle factor. If you already own the vehicle you have to get it to Florida and you will be without it for 6 weeks or more. If you will be purchasing the vehicle specifically to import it then there are the issues associated with inspecting and purchasing remotely, or getting yourself to the vehicle to inspect it. The most vocal commenters arguing against importing cite the "high taxes". This is not a valid argument for the most part and more often than not is advanced by folks who have no actual personal experience with importing a vehicle. Yes taxes are high. No one will argue that. What one must remember however is that no cars are made in Costa Rica. That means that ALL cars in Costa Rica have paid the "high taxes" at some point. Paying taxes on a vehicle does not mean you are throwing it away. That value is carried forward to the resale. In general, assuming some mindful attention to vehicle selection, the total sunk cost of importing a given vehicle is what you would pay for the same vehicle in Costa Rica. This is a general statement and, as I noted earlier, it is very case specific. One pointed exception is older vehicles. While the taxes are very low on a $2,500 beater, the cost to actually get it here and process all of the documents, get it registered and inspected are exactly the same as for a $50,000 vehicle, roughly $3,000. That means that you now have $5,500 into your beater and that vehicle you would have a hard time selling in CR. This is only a summary of a "should I import" discussion. There is much more to be said about any particular case. We invite your questions.
How often do you ship?
Presently air cargo leaves weekly and ocean cargo every other week.
What are the taxes and duties on my item?
Costa Rica has categorized almost every possible product using a system of nearly 20,000 categories and classifications. For any given item we must sort through those to arrive at one of 10,677 tax classifications, each of which dictates some combination of 11 different taxes that can be applied. The tax classifications can be divided by characteristics as seemingly minor as country of manufacture, color or some performance capacity or another. For that reason we cannot possibly provide a comprehensive list of tax rates. While the final tax rate can range from as little as 1% to 165% the vast majority fall into one of three relatively narrow ranges. We refer to those groups as "import value categories". The great majority of items will fall into the Medium range, with many fewer falling into the low and high range. We suggest that you use the Medium category as the "expected case" scenario with the low and high categories representing best and worst case scenarios respectively.
Also it should be noted that the above derived tax rate is applied to the CIF value. That is the sum of the 'Cost', 'Insurance' and 'Freight'. This formulation is used by most countries in the world, not just Costa Rica.
Are my used, personal belongings also taxed?
Yes. Used items are taxed at the same rate as new items but, of course, the value of a used item is much lower than its new counterpart; i.e. 30% of $100 is a lot less than 30% of $500.
Why can't I ship used clothes?
The reasons are two fold: 1) Costa Rica subjects used clothes to the same declaration rules as new. That means we must provide style, size, manufacturer, country of origin and color data in the declaration. Besides being very time intensive that requires careful examination of each garment, the required data is not even available on many used items. Customers generally refuse to do that and the cost of paying an import broker to do it would be prohibitive. It's easier to bring them with you in your airline luggage. 2) The Ministerio de Salud requires that all used garments be fumigated before they can be released by customs. This requires that the garments be separated from the rest of the load and a fumigation service hired to remove them to a remote facility. While the garments are out for fumigation the other cargo must remain in the bonded warehouse racking up expensive storage fees. It is cheaper to bring them in your airline luggage.
Should I ship multiple packages directly from e.g. Amazon or repack everything in a single box?
Repacking can save some money but it really depends on size, weight and contents as to whether it makes financial sense. If you have somebody in Ft Lauderdale repacking and dropping it off at our warehouse it makes more sense than if you are having to pay UPS to reship it cross country from e.g. California to Florida. Keep in mind, air shipping is more expensive than ocean. Since some items can only be shipped by air..... like food, meds, supplements, beauty aids, etc..... repacking those with e.g. car parts would force the heavy car parts to go by air, costing you a great deal more than not repacking, where each would normally go the best route. In the end we recommend that you use the CALCULATOR to test the various scenarios that are available to you.
Must every item be boxed?
No, it can be stand alone, e.g. a folded wheelchair or a bicycle. If it can be easily damaged it is highly recommended that it at least be wrapped in cardboard if not padding or framing. If it has parts that can snag or move (e.g. bicycle pedals) it is best that it be broken down or shrink-wrapped at least. Similar items should be bundled together, e.g. garden tools. Please remember that everything will be given the care typical of a forklift.
Is there a minimum or maximum size?
There is no lower limit. At the upper end we are limited only by what will fit into a container. As a practical matter however, an item should not be bigger or heavier than a forklift can handle. You should contact us first before shipping any exceptionally large cargo to ensure special handling arrangements are available. Larger items must be crated in a way that permits other things to be stacked on top, sometimes even other pallets. If it is not then you may be billed for the volume to the ceiling of the container; 8 ft.
I am sending/dropping off several boxes. Must I palletize them?
It is not necessary to palletize your boxes but depending on the cargo it might be advisable. If you have many boxes or have particularly heavy cargo then getting it to our warehouse is usually less costly on pallets via a freight service rather than individually via a package service. Boxes received individually will be billed individually. If they arrive on a pallet then the whole pallet is treated as a single trackable unit. On the flip side, the billed dimensions of the pallet are based on the maximum dimensions (including the pallet) in each direction, so care should be taken to make the pallet a neat cube and minimize voids and overhangs. If you want to transport packages yourself and palletize them on site, pallets and shrinkwrap are available at the receiving dock for a small charge.
Can I ship my riding lawn mower?
Can I ship a dedicated container just for my stuff?
Yes. Containers can be 20', 40' or 40'HC. Sometimes 45'HC containers are also available. Container shipping pricing is very case specific and must be quoted separately.
Can I include my car, quad, motorcycle, etc when I ship my own container?
Yes, we can include most any vehicle that will physically fit. In the end the cost is the same EXCEPT that the ocean shipping portion of the cost is of course already paid for.