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Friday, February 23, 2024

Bringing a Boat to Costa Rica: An Essential Guide

Many of us “landlubbers” assume that boat owners just buy a boat and bring it with them wherever they go. This can run them into trouble with the local authorities and can be a difficult issue to fix. There are certain steps that any boat owner needs to follow when they want to bring their boat to Costa Rica, as an example, or indeed anywhere else for that matter.

Are you a boat owner? Here is what you need to know to keep on the right side of authority.

The Marchamo

The Marchamo is an annual tax that is paid on all vehicles in Costa Rica – be they cars, motorcycles, or boats. This is collected by the INS, the national insurance agency, and it applies to expats as well. The exceptions to this rule come in the form of vehicles, airplanes, and boats that are used for recreation or sport fishing.

If you own one of these, you need to pay a special tax to the Ministry of Tax instead. Make sure you get the payment out of the way early on – failure to pay can result in some hefty fines and your mooring’s Harbour Master could refuse to let you cast-off if the full payment has not been made.


With the right set-up, you could potentially start up your own little charter business that takes paying guests out on the water for a fun day fishing or exploring. If you want a little income to help with a boat’s upkeep, this can be a great way to do it.

You just need to start by finding one of the many fishing boats for sale online and then filling in the necessary paperwork to get the business going. Try speaking to some other local businesses or your neighbors to help pick up those important first charters.


Costa Rica is such a beautiful and welcoming country and the abundance of water here – whether you are launching into the Caribbean Sea, the Pacific Ocean or the Sierpe River – can sometimes make us feel like masters and commanders of the seas themselves. However, you need to instead start to work hard to ensure that you are always in control.

Make sure you learn how to read the Costa Rican weather. The smallest change in sun or cloud could be a key signal that a tempest is on the way. You also need to make sure you regularly review the safety routines on your boat. Make sure you know what to do if your boat starts shipping water, capsizes, catches fire or one of the myriad dangers sailors face. Don’t let the beauty and fun of Costa Rica distract you from keeping yourself safe!

Costa Rica is a wonderful place to live, whether you have been here all your life or you are settling down as an expat. However, when it comes to boats, there is a right way and a wrong way to own one. Make sure you have all the training and documentation needed to have a boat here, and you should hopefully never run into any issues!

This article is an advertorial. Its content was not produced by The Tico Times.

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