New License PlatesVehicle owners with license plates ending in “1” have to the end of the month (October 31) to make the mandatory change over to the “new” license plates. The changeover program is quarterly starting in July and ending in January 2016.

Beginning November 1  the change begins for plates ending in “2”. Click here for the official (and changed) timetable.

Editor’s note: The mandatory changeover is for a physical set of metal plates and not a number change. Vehicles will keep the same plate number that is for the life of the vehicle and can only be changed or passed on to another vehicle under special circumstances

The cost of a set of new license plates is ¢15.000 for vehicles and ¢8.000 for motorcycles.

The Natonal Registry (Registro Nacional) began a 30 month campaign to replace all the “old” metal license plates with the new that includes several security features against “cloning”. The new plates also come with a corresponding sticker that must be placed on the vehicle’s windshield.

The program also removes all the old dented plates and some with numbers that are barely legible.

The changeover started on July 15 with the number 1, with every three months the subsequent number to make the change, ending in January 2016 with the number 0.

Costa Ricans are renowned for waiting to the last minute for anything. So, it is not surprising that there will be a mad rush of the 34.792 vehicle owners that have not yet picked up their new license plates for this round.

This is the first mass change of vehicle license plates in two decades.

Besides the central offices in Zapote, the National Registry now has offices in Curridabat, Paseo Colón, Alajuela, Cuidad Quesada (San Carlos/La Fortuna), Limón, Perez Zeledon, Puntarenas and Liberia (Guanacaste).

The hours of customer attention at the  central Registro Nacional in Zapote and Paseo Colón (San José) Monday to Friday is from 7:00 a.m. a 2:30 p.m.

Regional offices in Limón, Puntarenas, San Carlos and Alajuela are open Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ,  Pérez Zeledón and Liberia Monday to Friday from 9:00 am a 4:00 p.m.

Telephone calls are taken from Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm 2221-0845

The Costa Rica post office (Correo) and the Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) are offering for an additional fee to handle the transaction, including home/courier delivery.

Next week, on November 1, the traffic police (Policia de Transito) will starting fining vehicles with the old plates ending “1”. The fine has yet to be announced.