Bring Your Boat to Costa Rica - HRG Costa Rica Vacations
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Bring Your Boat to Costa Rica


Los Sueños Marina is a great space to dock your boat in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s Pacific coast is a sailor’s paradise. The Pacific coastline is longer and the ocean and winds tend to be calmer than the Caribbean coastline. The Cocos Islands are particularly attractive to eco-tourists and divers interested in the Cocos’ reputation as a mini-Galapagos. If you plan to bring your boat to Costa Rica, there are things to consider: tropics-proofing, moorage, permits, taxes and getting your boat there.

Getting there
If you opt to have your boat shipped, consult with a reputable boat freighting service. Chances are your Costa Rican home marina in Los Sueños can recommend a firm that can handle that for you, including a boatyard for reassembly. In general, there are three freight options to choose from:

• Roll-on, roll off – your trailered boat rolls aboard, its offloaded the same way
• Lift/cradle – a crane lifts the boat and places it in a shipboard cradle
• DYT – basically, a float-on, float-off operation

The freight service will require you to disassemble your boat partially: lowering the rig, removing spars, bracing and padding as much as possible. You may also want to consider shrink-wrapping to further secure and protect your boat.

Taxes, permits, fees
Costa Rica’s levies hefty import duties and taxes on boats. Don’t think of trying to avoid these costs—the government takes it all very seriously and you will face stiff penalties, possibly including seizure or impound.

On arrival at your port of entry, you’ll also need a temporary import certificate, good for three months, from customs officials. If you plan to extend your stay, be sure to apply for a one-time three-month extension before the original certificate expires.

Currently, the only way to keep a boat in Costa Rica for a longer period (1 – 2 years) is at the one of the only government-sanctioned marinas in Costa Rica—Los Sueños Resort & Marina is a great option as it is just an hour outside of San Jose and there are some terrific real estate opportunities in the area, as well. The full-service marina, at Herradura, has 200 wet slips, fuel dock and a host of other services. It’s also a port of entry, although it’s by appointment, unlike the other ports: Golfito, Puntarenas, Quepos and Playas del Coco.

The best advice is to get an attorney or other expert to guide you through the process. You’ll need these documents (and possibly others) for the Ministry of Transportation:

• Original customs temporary permit
• The boat’s certificate of documentation/registration
• Copy of the non-commercial slip rental agreement in Spanish.
• Affidavit of clear title (no liens or claims) in country of registration, made before a Costa Rican Notary Public
• Power of attorney authorizing the person your designee to act on your behalf
• If the boat owner is a company, you’ll need a notarized certificate that proves that the representative for the boat is a legal representative of the company with authority to act on behalf of the company.
• Certificate of Incorporation
The process will take at least a few weeks; get expert advice and apply early. The government is quite vigilant about violations. You want to enjoy cruising Costa Rican waters, get expert advice from Los Sueños staff, and don’t gamble on cruising under the sonar.

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