As people find Costa Rica an ideal place to live, enjoy or retire, many want to take advantage of the beautiful nature, scenery, oceans and fishing. 

You can opt to lease a boat or apply for a chartering license, as we explained in our article published in the October 2022 edition of Howler: Chartering in Costa Rica for International Vessels is Allowed.

For anyone wanting to bring down your own ship and register it here, we’ve prepared this month’s article on the process to be followed.

According to section 60 of Reglamento Organización Registro Público de la Propiedad Mueble (RORPPM), a ship is “any floating device capable of transporting people and things, intended for navigation by water, whatever its class or size.” 

Before the Registro Público de la Propiedad Mueble, ships, vessels, jet skis, etc., must be registered, as well as any encumbrances or lien that affect them. 

Registration of imported ships for the first time 

General Requirements

Application for registration

A public deed, signed by the owner, details the boat’s specifications and characteristics: length, beam, strut, hull material, hull number if applicable, net weight, gross weight, brand, year of construction, series if indicated, ship name (which must be different from any other registered), and the activity it will be dedicated to. Also, the engine’s characteristics must be described: type, model, serial number, power, and fuel. The estimated contract value must be indicated, including the engine’s value. (Section 39 paragraph 2. a RORPPM)

Taxes to be paid
a) Property tax payment is required for recreational class boats, sport fishing, and jet skis. The tax is paid based on the value of motor vehicles, ships, and aircraft in the local market, according to their characteristics, and by the minimum percentages and amount published by the government. (Section 9 Law 7088 Regulation Property Tax Vehicles, Boats and Aircraft). 

b) Verification of the payment of the fee established in section 33 of Law 8000, “Creation of the National Coast Guard Service”: Applies to all boats and ships, except for “artisanal fishing,” when the length is less than 10.67 meters. The fee is established based on the size of the vessel and ranges from 10% (₡46,200) to 15% (₡69,300) of the basic salary of an office worker, currently ₡462,200.00. This amount adjusts yearly.     

c) Stamps for registration. Proof of the tax department indicating the fiscal value (“value stamp”) for recreational class boats, sport fishing, and jet skis. As for the other types of ships, that proof is not necessary; the calculation of stamps is based on the tax estimate made by the interested party.Technical inspection form

This is carried out by the authorized inspectors of the Maritime Transportation Department of the MOPT (Section 65 RORPPM). 


Tourist activities

Owners of boats dedicated to tourist activities must provide a copy, certified by a notary public or the Costa Rican Tourism Institute, of the tourist contract and proof that the company and the boat are declared of tourist interest (Law on Incentives for Tourism Development No. 6990).


Special Requirements 

The DUA (custom declaration of importation) duly certified by the custom, must be provided (Section 39 section 2 inc. A) of RORPPM). It must contain the description of the ship, the description of the engine, the name and identification number of the importer, the tax status of the boat, and its country of origin. 


Flagging out
The deregistering of the ship from the country it comes from must be demonstrated by an apostilled or legalized certificate and its respective translation to Spanish. If the vessel is new or has never been registered, this requirement may be replaced by a certificate issued by the manufacturer or from the country of origin, indicating that it has never been registered (Section 39, paragraph 2) d) of RORPPM). 

We at GM Attorneys will be pleased to help you with your legal matters in Costa Rica! Please feel free to contact us at or visit our blog section at


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