San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Mandatory change of license plates begins Monday

Starting Monday, all vehicles and motorcycles in Costa Rica with license plates ending in 1 must begin the process of exchanging them for new ones.

Motorists will have up to three months to swap their old plates according to a requirement by Costa Rica’s National Registry.

New license plates have a total of six security features including a seal, map and the national flag of Costa Rica, as well as a unique hologram, a laser engraving and a special backlit symbol.

“We want the public to know that this is an ordered process that is based on the last digits of license plates,” National Registry Director Dagoberto Sibaja said. “Everyone will have the same period of time (three months) to make the change. We want to avoid misunderstandings in order to ensure the process in efficient.

Sibaja said that drivers who received new license plates after January 2012 are not required to exchange them again.

To obtain new plates, vehicle owners must present the old ones, fill out a form and pay ₡15,000 ($30), which includes two metal plates and a sticker for the windshield.

New plates for motorcycles cost ₡8,000 ($16) for one metal plate and one sticker. New vehicles registering for the first time may apply for alphanumeric license plates at a cost of ₡20,000 ($40).

Exchanges can be made at the National Registry’s main facilities in the southeastern district of Zapote, at local branches in Limón, Puntarenas, Guanacaste, Alajuela, San Carlos, Pérez Zeledón and Paseo Colón, and at Bank of Costa Rica and Correos de Costa Rica branches throughout the country.

Starting July 15, applications will be available online at the National Registry website, Vehicle owners may authorize third parties to exchange plates, as long as they present documents certified by a lawyer.

Schedule according to the last digit of license plates:

1: July-October 2013

2: November 2013-January 2014

3: February-April 2014

4: May-July 2014

5: August-October 2014

6: November 2014-January 2015

7: February-April 2015

8: May-July 2015

9: August-October 2015

O: November 2015-January 2016

Contact L. Arias at

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