Are ATVs Street Legal In Costa Rica (ATV + UTV Laws To Know)

Are ATVs Street Legal In Costa Rica

Have you ever wondered if ATVs are street legal in Costa Rica? Well, look no further, as we have all the answers to questions you have. But also some answers to the question you maybe didn’t know you should ask.

Costa Rica is one of the countries everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime for its stunning natural beauty. Many of which can be reached and explored only by all-terrain vehicle.

Yes, All-terrain vehicles are legal in Costa Rica. They can and need to be properly registered, and then can be driven on all streets and almost all roads. They are not allowed only on National Primary Routes.

So, let’s go on into further details of this matter.

Are ATVs Street legal in Costa Rica?

ATVs are perfectly street legal in Costa Rica, provided that they are registered properly. Meaning that they have passed the vehicle inspection, “RITEVE”, and have paid the vehicle road tax, “Marchamo”.

If it is fully registered, you can ride it on any street and almost any road. You are not allowed to drive it on National Primary Routes, and also roads and areas where motor vehicles are not allowed.

National Primary Routes, officially Carreteras Primarias, connect major metropolitan areas and are major traffic routes reserved for vehicles that can safely reach at least 50mph.

Because of this, ATVs as also other slow vehicles, are not allowed on them for safety reasons.

These roads are very easy to recognize by road signs. They are numbered with single and double-digit numbers.

For an ATV to pass RITEVE, it must have a working speedometer, properly fitting gas cap, working brake lights, working headlights, muffler, emissions inside the regulated limits, tires in good condition, and clearly visible license plates.

Read also: Are ATVs Street Legal in Nevada? (ATV + UTV Laws To Know)

Do I have to register or title an ATV in Costa Rica?

Yes, for an ATV and any other motor vehicle, to be allowed on public roads in Costa Rica it must be properly registered, and all fees and taxes paid on time.

For any vehicle, including the ATV, to be registered it has to pass RITEVE inspection, and also Marchamo tax has to be paid. It also must be insured.

Marchamo tax depends on the age and value of any vehicle and can be paid practically at any bank and INS (National Insurance Institute) offices.

If you are planning to take your own ATV from States to Costa Rica, you will have to go through a temporary import procedure, which exempts you from paying full import taxes and duty.

When entering Costa Rica, you will have to have ready certain documents needed for temporary import:

  • your passport and photocopy of its first two pages,
  • your driver’s license and a photocopy of both of its sides,
  • the original and photocopy of the ATV’s registration,
  • the original and photocopy of the title certificate for your ATV,

At the customs office, you will have to pay a $25 temporary import fee, but also $15 to INS for the temporary insurance policy.

Once the temporary import is granted, you are allowed to use your ATV in Costa Rica for up to 90 days, or your visa expiration date, whichever is shorter.

Can I ride an ATV on public lands in Costa Rica?

Yes, you can ride an ATV on public lands and public roads in Costa Rica, as long as you don’t drive on National Primary Routes or properties where all motor vehicles are forbidden.

Your ATV also has to be properly registered or covered by the temporary import.

There are 30 National Parks in Costa Rica, and some areas have limited and controlled access by vehicles, or are completely closed off for traffic.

In such areas, you are not allowed with your ATV.

The general rule is that if ATVs are not banned on some public land, then they are allowed.

Read also: Are ATVs Street Legal In Canada (Laws, Regulations + More)

Can I ride an ATV on private lands in Costa Rica?

Yes, if you have permission from the owner of said private property. Just like in any other country, owners have the absolute right to allow or deny access to their property.

While exploring Costa Rica, if you wander off to some private property it is important that you show proper respect and move off from any private property without argument.

Do I need a driver’s license to operate an ATV in Costa Rica?

For operating ATVs in Costa Rica, you need a motorcycle driver’s license, which can be acquired at 16 years of age.

If you are just visiting this country, any regular driver’s license is accepted as a valid for driving ATVs and motorcycles, if it allows you to ride a motorcycle in your home state.

But, you will be allowed to ride only ATVs with engine displacement not greater than 500cc.

With a US driver’s license, you are permitted to drive ATVs for the first 90 days of your stay in Costa Rica, or your visa term, whichever is shorter.

If your stay is longer than 90 days, you will have to have your driver’s license validated at any DGEV office, but only if you are 18 years or older. If you are 16 or 17, this option is not available to you.

In case you have an International Driver’s Permit, you can drive ATVs and cars for the 3 years period of its validity, or the validity period of your state-issued driver’s license.

Read also: Are ATVs Street Legal in Australia? (Yes, Here Is Why)


Many sites worth visiting in Costa Rica are relatively best explored on ATVs. The rugged terrain and pristine nature are the perfect scenery for such adventure.

If you have ever wondered if ATVs are Street legal in Costa Rica, the answer is yes. They are only not allowed on National Primary Routes, which can be recognized as numbered between 1 and 39.

All other roads are permitted if the ATV is properly registered, and you have a driver’s license that allows you to operate motorcycles.

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Jeff is an automotive technician, technical writer, and Managing Editor. He has held a lifelong passion for cars, with a particular interest in cars like the Buick Reatta. Jeff has been creating written and video content about transportation, automotive, electric cars, future vehicles as well as new, used for more than 18 years. Jeff is based in Boulder, Colorado.

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