San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Bringing in Your Four-Wheeled Baby

Recently, you moved to Costa Rica from your homeland. You were tired of the bustle and needed a change of pace. You decided you needed better surfing, hiking, fishing, diving, or simply sun in your life. You fell in love with a Tica. The reason really doesn’t matter, but now you’re here, living the good life, holding a fruit-flavored cold beverage and the love of your life. You are completely content. Except for one key detail. That beautiful 2008 Porsche 911 GT2 you purchased to satisfy your midlife crisis is sitting in a garage in a different country, collecting dust next to your 1970s leather jacket, 1980s cassette tapes and 1990s flannel wardrobe.

Your dreams of whipping around blind curves on the way to the beach are dashed.You are faced with a terrible dilemma: sell the machine you have affectionately dubbed the “Thunder Dragon” and start fresh, or try desperately to bring it to your new place of residence.

Let’s assume that if you were able to afford the $191,700 price tag on the Porsche, you just might be able to scratch together the money required to ship it.

With the many shipping and cargo services available here, it’s difficult to say exactly what it would cost to make this move, because it depends on the beautiful monster called human choice. The best thing The Tico Times can do is to check the estimates of several carriers to get a sense of who offers what. It is recommended that you do the same if you ever have a large shipment, as this may save you a lot of money. To the informed go the benefits, and possibly a week at a nice hotel somewhere sandy, thanks to the leftover colones.

For transparency’s sake, the car in question, that oh-so-luxurious 2008 GT2, weighs in at 1,430 kilograms (3,175 pounds) on the curb, and the values are calculated for a move from Beverly Hills, California, to Playa Jacó, on Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast. What, then, is your best option?

Empaques y Mudanzas Rex Internacional (2209-7000, would ship the car to Jacó for about $4,550, according to Jesús Meza, industrial packing and relocation manager. That price includes reception and inspection of the car, container-loading fees, blocking and bracing, export clearance, ocean freight to the Pacific port of Caldera, customs clearance and delivery. Omitted are terminal handling charges, customs examination, duties, storage, insurance, registration and plate costs. Insurance would run the importer an additional 3 percent of the declared value, $5,751 in this case. Payment is required up front.

ABC Movers (2258-2400, estimates the delivery would cost roughly $4,000, including ocean freight, export documentation, customs clearance in San José and delivery to your seaside mansion in Jacó, according to ABC Movers’ Patricia Fuentes. Not included are taxes and customs charges. ABC Movers charges 1.65 percent of the total value for insurance, in this case $3,163.

Another service, JetBox (2253-5400,, boasts its own customs agency, customs warehouse and delivery service within the greater metropolitan area. They would deliver the Porsche in 15 days (including four days of quarantine) for a total of $3,900, including pickup and delivery of the vehicle and customs clearance. Once again, this figure does not include customs charges and taxes. Insurance on the vehicle during transport would cost about $1,470. A one-time affiliation fee of $25 would also be assessed for firsttime JetBox users, according to Gabriela Apuy of JetBox’s marketing department.

Normally, container shipping is not quite this expensive. Cars are considered dangerous goods by the steamship lines that determine the pricing, so the normal rates for a 20- or 40-foot crate (see sidebar) do not apply, according to Meza.

But now for the whopper. According to Apuy, vehicle import taxes start at 52.29 percent of the CIF (cost + insurance + freight) value or the value established by the Finance Ministry’s Car-Tica system (, whichever is higher, for vehicles three years old and newer. That amount goes up to 63.91 percent for cars four to five years old, and 79.03 percent for cars six or more years old.

Ultimately, bringing your car into the country is a pricey process. Unless you are one of the lucky ones and expense is of no concern, or the car is extremely valuable, it may be best to sell it back home and start fresh with a new vehicle purchased here.

Unless, of course, you can’t handle separation from “Thunder Dragon” and will do anything to smell that sweet leather interior again.


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