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Selling cars in Costa Rica

July 01, 2015 2 Comments

While this isn't something I'll necessarily miss about Costa Rica, I wanted to write about it because going through the experience was a bit stressful at the time, but looking back it's actually quite funny.

We bought a used car when we first arrived here with the intention of selling it when we leave. With 1 month left, we decided to go ahead and start the process in case we ran into some difficulty selling it. 

We posted ads on local facebook groups and put up 2 'se vende' signs on the car with our phone number and waited for replies.  Right away we found people who were interested but their propositions were very interesting. We were prepared to negotiate on the price but what we weren't prepared for were conversations like this:

Potential buyer 1 (PB1): 'Hola, is the car still for sale?'

Hubby: 'Yes, when can you come see it?'

PB1: 'Right away. I can give you $3000 and my quad bike in exchange for your SUV'

Hubby: 'No thanks. I don't want a quad bike, I just want to sell my car.' 


PB2: 'Hola, is the carro still for sale?'

Hubby: Si, when can you come see it?'

PB2: Right away. I can give you my Toyota Yaris and $2000 in exchange for your SUV'

Hubby: 'No gracias. I don't want another car, I just want to sell my car.'


PB3: 'Hola, is the car todavia a la venta?

Hubby: Yes, but I don't want to exchange it for another car!

PB3: I would do no such thing! I have a plot of land on the coast I could trade you for...


After a week of calls like this, we asked our friends if this was common practice in Costa Rica and they told us that we'd have better luck if we edited our post to say that we're leaving the country. So we did and we put it on a national used car selling website. The next morning Carlos called interested in buying the car, and nothing else.  He and his uncle took the bus from Guanacaste (a 5 hour drive) to meet us and after agreeing on a fair price for all parties, drove back the same night.   

In the end, everyone was satisfied with the transaction. Or do you think we should have looked into that plot of land...?

2 Responses


July 07, 2015

Hi Adam,
The selling process went surprisingly easy. We bought our car from a used car lot so it was already regiatered in Costa Rica. Essentially, the first person that saw the car bought it (there were a couple people interested but canceled our appointments at the last minute). We posted ads on Facebook groups and sites like We and the buyer went the same day of the sale to a lawyer to fill out all the paperwork and that was that!


July 05, 2015

Hey I have a quick question about your experience to sell a car in CR.
I own a not to valuable Toyota ’99 wort aprox 2000$ and on Canadian plates. Was your car registered in CR if not how did the whole selling process went down. Do you needed a lawyer? How should i proceed? I would be very thankful for your help.

Regard Adam

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