License Plates Exchange Will Begin July 15

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The country’s vehicle owners must change their license plates beginning July 15, according to the National Register Regulation Number 70 issued on April 8, 2011, which regulates the use, arrangement and requirements for those who have a vehicle registered in the Costa Rican Public Registry.  

For all vehicles with plates ending in 1, the change begins July 15,  and owners will have until the end of October.  

To complete the process the owner can go to the National Registry Headquarters, located in Zapote, San Jose or to any of the regional offices, as well as in the Costa Rica Post Office branches or through the Bank of Costa Rica.   

The owner must show the old plates, fill out a form and cancel the stamps. The amount to pay for vehicle license plates is 15.000 colones ($30), and the user receives two metal plates and a sticker for the windshield.  

In the case of motorcycles, the cost is 8.000 colones ($16) for a plate and sticker.  

In addition, those who have plates with a number only  and want to change it to a number and letter must pay an additional 20.000 ($40) for reservation and 2.000 colones ($4) for registration procedures.  

According to Emilia Segura, head of the press department of the National Registry, the main reason that forced the institution to request vehicle owners to change their plates was the shortage in numbers when assigning a new registration number because “in 2011 the numbers ran out,” she said.  

Another of the reasons is safety, as new plates have a sticker which has a code that binds the decal with the plates to avoid swapping plates between different vehicles, and that upon removal becomes unusable.  

Segura said that if this happens by accident, the owner of the vehicle must present to the Registry the documents proving that he or she is the owner and request a replacement. The cost is 2.000 colones ($4).  

According to the National Registry, since June 2012, 28,832 pairs of plates have been issued for four-wheeled vehicles and 74,394 for motorcycles.

Clarification: Due to questions and comments received from our readers about when plates ending in other numbers will change, we want to clarify that the process will be made consecutively every three months. For example, plates ending in 2 will have to go through the process starting November 2013 and will have until the end of  January 2014 to complete it. The last of the numbers will be 0.