Friendly Reminders from Uvita Law Firm


MARCHAMO: Before December 31st to pay without penalties: Payment of your Marchamo (or right to circulate in motor vehicles in Costa Rica. This is like paying for your yearly license plate taxes in the United States). This can be paid at almost any bank. The Costa Rican banks give you the option to pay online if you have an account with them. It does vary yearly, the price of the marchamo is determined by your car’s model, manufacturing year and brand.  Note: If you got tickets for driving infringements you have to pay them at this point. You can find the value on line through visiting the INS website, using this link:

Anyone can pay for the marchamo by simply providing the license plate number, it doesn’t have to be the owner of the car. To pay the marchamo your vehicle has to pass the RTV inspection (see details below). After paying for the marchamo at a local bank they will give you a new official circulation card. You cannot loose this card, you have to have it in your car at all times. This card comes with a sticker that is required to post on the corner of your windshield. The sticker may distort or lose color from the sun, it is for this reason that you have to have the circulation card in your glove box.

RITEVE (RTV): This test is equivalent to the emissions testing in North America. You are required to do this each year for your vehicle; for older cars and for almost brand new cars every two years. You have to make an appointment to have your vehicle tested. Go to the following website to make the appointment:

You have to enter your license plate number. The other option is to call the RTV office to make an appointment.  Appointments: 905-RTV-0000, 905-788-0000 - Questions: 800-RTV-0000, 800-788-0000. Generally individuals can get an appointment within the first two weeks after making the appointment. You will get a confirmation date and time together with a list of requirements to present the day of the appointment. The cost of the test is around 12,000 colones or $24.00. 

Required documentation: 

          -Title deed to the car (Titulo de propiedad)
          -Registration card (Tarjeta de circulación)
          -Your passport or Resident Card.

RTV checks on your car’s CO2 levels, lights, breaks, shocks, tires and so. Your car will go through various tests. It is recommended to have your car inspected and fixed before going to your RTV appointment in order to avoid failing the test or you will have to do it all over again.


PROPERTY TAX: On December 31st, March 30th, June 30th and September 30th of each year, your property taxes are due in the local Municipality. These can be paid up to one year in advance, starting the first week of each year, or can be paid quarterly on or before the dates provided above. You can pay these taxes by having your corporate ID, your ID number (depending if the property is in your name or your corporation name) or the property number itself and going to the Municipality and pay it. Or, you can do it online through the National banking system (Banco Nacional and Banco de Costa Rica) or you can go to the bank and deposit the funds into the Municipal account. In any case, make sure you get a receipt from the Municipality or if done online or by deposit, make sure you scan the deposit and send an e-mail or fax +506 2786-84952 to the Municipality requesting your receipt. Keep your receipt and deposit slips in a safe place.

LUXURY TAX: Due on or before January 15th of each year. The tax is obligatory for owners of homes whose price  by January 1st, 2013 exceeds ₡117 million ($234,000). If you have questions regarding Luxury tax, please contact Jeimy or Endrina from E & T Escrow and Trust Solutions +506 2771-6789 / +506 2771-7856 / +506 2771-7849 or through the following e-mail: 


EDUCATION AND CULTURE STAMP: This is a stamp that should be paid to the tax office yearly, on or before December 31st. The Tax is based upon the amount of the capital stock of your corporation. As such your first step is to determine the capital amount with which your corporation was registered. This can be paid online through your bank account or handled by an accountant. For more information regarding this, please contact E & T Escrow and Trust Solutions, as mentioned above for the Luxury tax information.


CHRISTMAS BONUS (AGUINALDO): Christmas bonus should be paid by the 2nd week of December of each year. Public institutions pay earlier and it is determined each year. The calculation of the amount to pay Christmas bonus is basically adding up all the amounts earned from December 1st of the present year to November 30th. Then that amount should be divided by 12. If you pay the worker monthly, and the worker has worked an entire year, it is like paying a '13th' month. If not, then you add up what has been worked and divide it by 12. You can also find the out how much is it adding the salary per month using this link:

VACATION: You are obligated to give your workers paid vacation time, once they have completed 50 weeks of work. If the timing is bad for you, you can use any time of the 3 months following the year mark to provide the time for them. Depending on what type of labor is performed and how they are paid, the vacation time runs from 12 to 15 days a year. These days cannot include paid holidays, since that should be given to them anyway. You should consult with legal counsel before deciding which amount of days they receive. They have to be taken and paid as normal days. You cannot pay them their vacation and keep them on working, which was done in the past. They should also be consecutive. The idea is that everyone needs a good 2-week rest each year.

HOLIDAYS: Some holidays are optional, some are not. Here is the list of Holidays and their current status in Costa Rica: (Kris, estos son los feriados de ley, de pago doble si es trabajado)


            New Year’s Day, January 1st
            Easter Sunday, March 31st
            Juan Santamaría’s Day, April 11th
            Labour Day Costa Rica, May 1st
            Guanacaste Day, July 25th
            Virgin of Los Angeles, August 2nd
            Assumption & Mothers’ Day, August 15
            Costa Rica Independence Day, September 15
            Día de las Culturas, October 12th
            Christmas Day, December 25th

LIQUIDATION/SEVERANCE: If you are going to fire a worker, no matter how long they have worked, they accumulate vacation and Christmas bonus benefits. They only have the right to severance and notice payments (plus the others) upon working 3 months or more. Christmas Bonus, for workers that have not worked the full year and are fired or quit, should be calculated as follows: 1 day of pay per month worked. Same goes for vacation pay. Severance and notification (preaviso), in cases where they have worked more than 3 months, should be calculated by your legal advisor or directly in the Ministerio de Trabajo, (Labor Department), with a translator and jointly with the employee.

All items related to workers should be documented.

          - Labor risk policy and Social security plan.
          - Copy of their Social security card in their wallet or on them at all times.
          - Copy of their payment slip on them or in their wallet or purse at all times.
          - I highly recommend a labor contract as well upon hiring an employee.
         - I highly recommend that the employee open their own bank account and that employer do online deposits or deposits into their account for payments of salary, as record of payment versus cash.


Business hours:
Monday- Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

Please call or e-mail to make an appointment.

Mailing and Physical address:
Uvita Law Firm
The Dome Commercial Center, across from the Bridgestone building,
First floor, Office #7
Uvita, Osa, Puntarenas, Costa Rica

Phone 011 (506) 2743-8416
Fax:    011 (506) 2743-8417
Movil    011 (506) 2743-8619

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