Donating a Car in Costa Rica
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Jul 16, 2012 3:30 AM Last Post By: BOOMER1
Jul 13, 2012 4:34 PM
Donating a Car in Costa RicaWe have been travelling around Mexico and Central America in our 2006 Saturn Ion for the last year. We have decided to go even further and go to South America without spending money to ship our car. We want to LEGALLY donate our car to a charitable organization. Does anybody out there know of an organization that would want to take our car?
Thanks for your help!
Jul 13, 2012 5:19 PM
1some of the issues would be these:
1. i have never ever seen a saturn in costa rica so - not sure how it would work for parts and repairs.
2. if you were to donate the car, someone (you or the recipient) would have to pay the import taxes which run more than 45% of the car's value. probably thousands of dollars.
3. the car's value is determined by the ministerio de hacienda in costa rica and not by us blue book.
4. in addition to the import tax, there would be the registration fee as well as a necessary inspection and paying an attorney to handle all that. hundreds of dollars and possibly the need to fix something on the car based on the inspection.
sounds to me like the only organization that would actually benefit would be some group that has a really good "shade tree mechanic." even then, not sure how the parts thing would work.
i would think that with all the expenses associated with this car, it would need to be a largish organization.
while it sounds like a good idea, i'm not sure it is very practical. i don't know where you are now or where you are going in costa rica - but - your best bet would be to ask around, starting with your lodging. look around for organizations -- there are shelters similar to humane societies for instance. talk to a costa rican attorney to get an idea of what would be involved and perhaps he/she can help you find something.
Edited by: wiremu
Edited by: wiremu
Jul 13, 2012 7:47 PM
Jul 14, 2012 8:02 AM
3if these people have driven all over central and south america in this car, chances are, there's a paper trail. i wouldn't want to just abandon the car unless you never intend to return. besides - it's just not a nice thing to do!
the car is the responsibility of the owner and the owner needs to do something that is legal and responsible. with a bit of effort, this should be possible. if the owner can't find a charitable organization, then just ask around and someone will probably want to take it. be sure to go to a lawyer and do the transfer.
in many remote rural areas, there are always cars that are not inspected or re-registered every year but just used for local travel, especially in mountainous areas. (getting back and forth to a town from the farm "up the mountain" kind of thing) also -- a teenager would probably be interested.
just check around for the various possibilities and then decide how to proceed. word of mouth is the way that most things like this are done and if you ask enough local people, you will find a solution.
Edited by: wiremu
Jul 15, 2012 4:01 AM
4Whilst I totally agree with wiremu that the best way forward is to "put the word out" there is absolutely no point in speaking to an attorney to investigate the legal route of importing the vehicle because as has been said it will cost you thousands.
You'll find some beach bums who will take it off your hands but they will drive it around for a few months until the police start to take an interest and then dump it in an estuary somewhere to rot into the mangroves. There will be people who say "leave it with me I'll take care of everything"...but legally?-not a chance!
You could offer it to a garage to have it broken up for spares but most self respecting garages will worry that it is stolen or been used in crime.
Car dealers know all the tax tricks and procedures and pay much lower import tax on high mileage cars that are for resale. You just might find a small low rent dealership that will take it for nothing-ish and take on the job of getting it plated. At least this way you will get a bill of sale.
You say you want to act "legally"- well the law requires you to either import the vehicle (with all the costs and complexity that involves) or take it out of the country. You brought it in so you take it out!....
Jul 15, 2012 1:42 PM
5First of all, I want to thank you all for replying; your thoughtful answers mean a lot to us!
I think the operating word for us is legally. The car is attached to our passport. While we've had a few offers on the car, some of them unsolicited, we don't want to find ourselves eight months down the road trying to get in a country and our passport's blocked because our car wasn't disposed of/sold properly.
We're also on a rather tight budget while on this journey, so we were thinking of giving it to a charitable organization. We've only been in this country for a few days and we thought maybe somebody out there knows of an organization that would be more than happy to take our car.
As it stands right now, we're either:
a. going to find an organization, donate the car, and fly to South America;
b. drive the over 4,000 miles (hoping the car makes it) to AZ, and donate the car; or
c. order the parts from the US (we have a broken windshield, need new bushings, and the key is stuck in the ignition), have the car repaired down here, and ship the car in Panama to Colombia.
With hindsight being 20-20, we definitely brought the wrong car for our journey; we would have been better off with either a Toyota, Honda, or Nissan. Unfortunately, it's now on the infamous "woulda, shoulda, coulda, didn't" list. We're also not ending the trip because of this minor setback. We've been down here for over a year and expect to keep going for probably another 5 years or so, with or without the Saturn!
Thanks again for your help and if you know of any charitable organizations, please let us know!
Jul 15, 2012 4:00 PM
6whatever arrangement you might come to in costa rica, be sure to do the "formalities" with an attorney. make sure he writes up a bill of sale that will be sent to the public registry and then the car is not in your name anymore. the bill of sale should have stamps and a raised notary seal (attorneys are also notaries).
if you decide to drive it north, sounds like the poor thing needs a lot of work! (i can't even imagine the story behind "key stuck in the ignition!" i have a costa rican friend that has no key for his old truck and just uses a screwdriver to get it started.)
Jul 15, 2012 5:57 PM
Jul 16, 2012 3:30 AM
8Even with the best intentions, something is hardly a "charitable donation" if it saddles the receiver with thousands of dollars of liability so I think its unlikely that this will be a genuine solution. You may find someone who says "leave it with me and I'll pass it on to a charity"...yeah right. I suspect that you'll find someone who will give you a few bucks for it (whatever their intentions)....but as wiremu says- draw up an official bill of sale!- and make sure it includes the full ID/Passport #'s etc of the buyer!
Bear in mind that if you drive it to South America you will have the same problem there. In fact in Argentina I don't think you would have any chance of getting rid of it.
Since CR do not stamp cars into passports there will be no lingering record should you leave without it. To be entirely legal you can surrender it to customs in San Jose but it will just be added to the HUGE lot of rusting gringo heaps that have met similar fates (and which the charities didn't want/couldn't afford either!)...
Do let us know what you decide and how you get on...and have a great trip!
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