In Costa Rica, the “Marchamo” is the annual vehicular circulation permit for all vehicles licenses to operate on national roads. The payment is due by December 31 of each year, after which the driver of a vehicle without the current Marchamo is exposed to a fine and/or confiscation of the vehicle itself.
The preparation (cost) and collection of the Marchamo is the repsonsibility of the Instituto Nacional de Seguros (INS) – Nationla Insurance Institute – the state national insurer.
In the past, the INS was the only provider of vehicle insurance policies. In 2012 several private operators offer vehicle insurance in competition with the INS. However, the INS is still the sole provider of the “mandatory” insurance, which covers third party liability only and “voluntary” policies, while private operators only the voluntary.
Each year by the middle of November the INS publishes the cost of the Marchamo for the following year for each and every vehicle with the Registro Nacional (national registry) by the end of October.
The Marchamo includes the items like:
- Property tax (usually the largest portion of the total cost)
- Sales Tax
- COSEVI contribution
- Timbre Fauna Silvestre (contribution to wildlife fund)
- Mandatory third party liability
Other items that make up the total cost include:
- Fines and interest for late payment
- Unpaid Marchamos
- Unpaid traffic fines
- Interest and fines on unpaid traffic fines
The Marchamo today can be paid online by way of the INS website (ins-cr.com) and banks, financial institutions and authorized INS agents. The link to the Marchamo page is: http://marchamo.ins-cr.com/Marchamo/Marchamo/frmConsultaMarchamo.aspx
The INS provides the cost for each item and the total cost payable. The database is available to banks, financial institutions and authorized INS agents, who collect the fee and issue the user the Marchamo windshield sticker and corresponding paperwork which must be carried in the vehicle and made available to a traffic official if requested.
In years past the only point of sale for the Marchamo was a select number of INS offices, which meant lines blocks long in many case especially the last week in December. Understanding the situation, the Policia de Tránsito (traffic police force), a part of the Ministerio de Obras Publicas y Transportes (MOPT) would allow drivers a grace period in the first days of the new year.
Important to note here that the MOPT and INS are separate government agencies, the first being the transportation department while the second an insurance company. Why it is not the MOPT that prepares and collects the Marchamo is not well known.
Another important note is that to pay the Marchamo the vehicular inspection or Riteve must be current. The INS system records data from the private vehicular inspection service and will not permit the payment of the Marchamo if the Riteve is not current.
Vehicle owners who rush through the last days of the year to get the Riteve will find that they cannot pay the Marchamo until the new year, thus incurring late fines and interest, for it does take a day or two – excluding holidays – for the INS data to be updated.
If you have gotten this far you will have noted there are several independent and separate government agencies involved in the process: the INS, for the preparation of the costs, based on the data provided by the Registro Nacional (National Registry), the Ministrio de Hacienda (Revenue ministry) for the tax portion and the MOPT, by way of the Tránsito to fine drivers who do not count with the Marchamo.
In addition, there are several private enterprises involved in the process: the Riteve which provides vehicular inspections and reports compliance to the INS and banks, financial institutions and insurance agents who do the actual collection and remittances (less a commission) to the INS.
Important to note: Banks and financial institutions competing for your Marchamo Colones offer bonuses. Shop around!