Costa Rica proposes law to legalize (and tax) ride-hailing app Uber

January 23, 2019

Uber’s questionable legal standing in Costa Rica may soon reach a resolution.

The country’s Executive Branch on Tuesday proposed a law that will allow “taxi drivers and services such as Uber to coexist simultaneously, under fair conditions of competition,” according to a press release from the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT).

“Our commitment is to progress in a system where taxis and transportation technology platforms can coexist under conditions of fair competition,” said President Carlos Alvarado.

“It is an issue that as a country we have postponed for many years, and it was time to make decisions about it.”

The bill would designate transportation platform companies such as Uber as public services. The companies would have to register with the Public Transportation Council and enact policies promoting rider safety.

Services such as Uber would be subject to a value-added tax of 13 percent. The proposal also says companies that “operated prior to the enactment of this law” would have to pay a registration fee of nearly $13,800,000, which would be earmarked to fund modernizations to Costa Rica’s public-transportation systems, including taxis.

Uber did not immediately return a request for comment, but in a September 2018 open letter to the government, the company said that “since our first day of operations in Costa Rica, Uber has sought to be part of the country’s development and to improve transportation options for Costa Ricans.”

[UPDATE: Read Uber’s response to the proposed law here.] 

Taxi drivers have staged repeated protests against ride-hailing services since Uber launched operations in Costa Rica in August 2015. Uber drivers have continued to offer rides, though they often do so surreptitiously to avoid hefty fines from the Public Services Regulatory Authority (ARESEP).


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This story was updated at 12:30 p.m. to include Uber’s statement on the legislation.

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