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What is Marchamo in Costa Rica all about

What is Marchamo in Costa Rica all aboutYou must have heard about the famous marchamo in Costa Rica. If you own a vehicle in Costa Rica, you have to pay the marchamo once a year. This is paid before the end of December. Let me tell you what a marchamo is all about.

The laws of Costa Rica oblige all vehicles to carry the proof of the right of circulation in the form of a sticker on your windshield.

All vehicles in Costa Rica pay annually this type of road tax. INS, the local insurance company that is owned by the government is in charge. INS means Instituto Nacional de Seguros for National Insurance Institute.

That means that if you import your own car from another country, the moment you have paid your import duty and you get your Costa Rica license plate, you will need your marchamo to be able to drive on the Costa Rican roads.

To some foreigners, this road tax might be a surprise, but many of you don’t realize that many countries in the world charge all vehicle owners a road tax. The UK, for example, charges Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) and once a car is three years old it has to be tested each year to ensure that it is in a roadworthy condition, if it is an MOT certificate is issued: to obtain a road tax disc the MOT certificate must be valid. The MOT certificate is very similar to our RITEVE (read more about this elsewhere in this newsletter).What is Marchamo in Costa Rica all about

Hong Kong road tax

In Hong Kong, the road tax is called license fee and is charged according to the category (passenger cars, goods vehicles, taxis, etc) of the vehicle first. Then, for passenger cars (known as private cars), it is calculated by the engine size.

US road tax

In the United States, though many do not realize it, each state requires an annual registration fee which varies from state to state.

For example, in Massachusetts, the excise tax is billed separately from registration fees, by the town or city in which the vehicle is registered, and was set at a fixed rate of 2.5% statewide by a 1980 law called Proposition 2½‎. Within some states, the fees may vary from county to county, as some counties have surcharges per vehicle.

An example of this is Virginia’s personal property tax. The state of New York, on the other hand, charges a tax based on the vehicle’s weight, rather than on its value, which is charged at the time of registration renewal.

In California, the registration tax is calculated by the current value of the vehicle, just like in Costa Rica. If it is an old and low price vehicle, the registration tax is very low. However, if it is a brand new and expensive vehicle, the registration will cost a few hundred dollars.

When to pay Marchamo in Costa Rica

The marchamo in Costa Rica can usually be paid from the 15th of November each year until the 31st of December of that same year. After that, you pay a fine. Most every year, the government decides, because half the people haven’t paid yet, to give those who haven’t been able to cancel the marchamo a chance to pay without the fine.

What is Marchamo in Costa Rica all about Costarican employees receive in December, apart from their salary, a 13th month, which is like an Xmas bonus, from their employer. This is part of the employer’s obligations to each employee. This is the time of the year when most Costaricans have more money available and that is the reason the government charges the marchamo in December.

When you pay the marchamo in Costa Rica, you will get a paper receipt that shows what you are paying for on one side and the tag number and the year of payment on the other side, which you can separate and stick on the windshield sticker they also give you. Every year you will receive a different color sticker so that the traffic police can see on a distance if you have this year’s sticker or not. If you don’t’ carry this year’s sticker, the traffic police will stop you, check your papers and give you a fine if you’re not paid up to date.

What’s on the form?

The form shows the following info:

  • Tag number of the car
  • Period of payment (2010 in this case)
  • Number of receipts
  • The transaction number
  • The concept of this pay

The concept is as follows, itemized:

Car Insurance

3 = Compulsory car insurance and is 19.78% of the total charge of the marchamo in Costa Rica.

The INS website tells us the following about this Insurance: “Insurance required for all vehicles in the country, covers injury and death of people (pedestrians and occupants of the vehicle), victims of a traffic accident, whether or not the driver’s subjective responsibility” Traffic Act 7331. “

The compulsory car insurance is charged each year from the second fortnight of November and is incorporated in the Marchamo for each car and is charged to everyone with a car.

Compulsory Car Insurance Services provides medical-surgical, pharmaceutical and rehabilitation services, cash benefits for permanent total disability or death and funeral expenses of those who are injured or died as a result of the accident.What is Marchamo in Costa Rica all about

As of January 1, 2010, the Compulsory Automobile Insurance coverage (SOA) will be up to ¢ 6,000,000.00 per person killed or injured. In severe cases with a medical endorsement, coverage may be increased ¢ per person.

Disabled children

For disabled children aged 13 or older is not insured by the Social Security Fund (CCSS), the amount of coverage may be doubled after examining socioeconomic, medical advice and medical clearance from the Department of Compulsory Motor Vehicle Insurance.


6 = Sales tax which is 13% in Costa Rica.

9 = Road Safety Contribution (Law 6324) 5.46%

21 = Property Tax (Ministery of Economy, Tax office) 65.46%

34 = Institute of Municipal Promotion, I have no clue what this is

35 = Wildlife stamp, goes to National Parks

36 = Law 7088, article 9 shows a charge that is divided by different organizations: 56% to Asociación de Guías y Scouts de Costa Rica; 10% to Centro Diurno de Atención al Ciudadano en la Tercera Edad (ASCATE); 4% to la Asociación Hogar de Ancianos de Pérez Zeledón; 15% to Patronato Nacional de Rehabilitación;  and 15% to Asociación Pueblito de Costa Rica.

Additional charges

In my case, I did not have any additional charges but you can also get the following, in case of not behaving as a well-educated driver

  • Traffic Offenses (COSEVI) 1.82%
  • Parking meters, parking meters (Municipalities) 1.30%
    • The total amount of money paid
    • Number of the cashier where paid
    • Name of the collector (bank)
    • Date of payment
    • Name of the owner
    • The ID of the owner
    • Brand of the car
    • Model of the car
    • Year of the car
    • Capacity of passengers
    • Chassis number/Vin number
    • Class
    • Motor Number
    • Tax Value

When to pay?

The INS is well organized and you can pay the marchamo in almost every bank and you can check and pay for the marchamo online by going to the INS website after the 15th of November.

Fill out your tag number there. It will show how much you will have to pay to be able to get your marchamo in Costa Rica. Don’t forget to stick it on your windshield. Do it as soon as you have paid and have received the physical marchamo.


Some people mess it up when they put the sticker on the windshield. If for any reason you are one of those, you can replace the sticker. To get a duplicate marchamo, check here what you need to do.


In the paperwork of the marchamo, it shows the Chassis number and motor number. The reason is that the RITEVE controls this in case of theft or duplication of chassis and motor number.

You can only pay the marchamo in Costa Rica if the  RITEVE to be up to date. Read here to understand what RITEVE in Costa Rica is all about.

Don’t forget you have to pay this marchamo every year in December. Save yourself the headache of being stopped by the traffic police, get fined and have them take your license plate as shown in the picture.

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Ivo Henfling

Your West-side of San Jose real estate agent, covering Escazu and Santa Ana, Rohrmoser and Ciudad Colon. If you are looking to buy a home in Costa Rica or invest in a condo anywhere in the Central Valley or looking for any property for sale in Escazu or Santa Ana, you need to contact Costa Rica real estate agent Ivo Henfling. Ivo has been selling Costa Rica real estate on the westside of San Jose, in the locations of Rohrmoser, Sabana, Escazu, Santa Ana and Ciudad Colon for over 20 years and can show you hundreds of happy buyers of real estate in Escazu and those other areas. For Ivo, a deal is not a good one unless both buyer and seller are happy.

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