Driving from Costa Rica to Los Angeles
Replies: 22 - Last Post: Nov 1, 2012 3:22 PM Last Post By: twjthornton
Oct 24, 2012 2:23 PM
I have been importing Diesel Land Cruisers from all over the world for the past year and having great success with it. I have got them over so far from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Panama, etc (www.Cccruisers.com)
I would love to get one in Central America and drive it back to LA. Anybody have any tips, advice, vehicle and personal safety, routes, etc? I would like to take at least a month and really make an adventure out of it.
About me: Experienced traveler, hitchhiked, driven, bussed all over the world but am ALWAYS looking for tips to make journeys go more smooth.
Thanks so much!
Oct 24, 2012 3:27 PM
1if you are thinking of buying a car in costa rica, driving it to los angeles and selling it there -- you would lose.
import taxes for cars average 50% of the car's value, determined by the "ministerio de hacienda" in costa rica and not by the us blue book or anything else. then, a tax (or 2) is added. this makes buying a car in costa rica something like twice as expensive as buying it in the us.
Oct 24, 2012 11:51 PM
Oct 25, 2012 12:05 AM
3To keep car in usa it needs to meet EPA Emissions and DOT Safety regulations does is not? How can you cross a border with a vehicle not in your name? Title/Registration needs to be in your name, as the vehicle goes in your Passport for each country and then stamped out..but I guess you know all this...
Anyway, there this website http://www.drivetheamericas.com/ for all your border/paperwork and route options. Basically just stay on the Panamerican highway to Mexico.
Oct 25, 2012 12:34 AM
4Vehicles over 25 years old are Department of Transportation(DOT) exempt from meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS), etc, etc. The cars I am importing are known as "gray cars" and I am not worried in the slightest about profit, title/reg or any of that because I have already done that a bunch of times and i have a very firm grasp of what they will yield.
As I have stated I am just trying to get a lay of the land and get some unique prespectives from people who have made this drive this before and some can't miss travel sites along the way.
thanks for the website, excited to check it out.
Oct 25, 2012 3:29 AM
Oct 25, 2012 3:35 AM
6But you haven't done it "a bunch of times" on this route though have you or you wouldn't be asking the questions? The drive is the easy bit (head North), far more interesting and helpful to other readers is how you expect to deal with the legalities. These are drug routes and they generally don't just let anybody drive any car anywhere. As an indication- are you aware that even a Costa Rican national driving his own car on Costa Rican plates and titled in his own name needs specially applied for papers before he can cross a border for a days sightseeing?.
Just curious, as you've clearly decided you are the expert in this area....
Oct 25, 2012 3:54 AM
happy for you that you can afford to buy a car in costa rica, drive it to los angeles and afford to sell it for half of what you paid for it. you, apparently, are wealthy enough to just have fun with it.
Edited by: wiremu
Edited by: wiremu
Oct 25, 2012 6:13 AM
8There's a couple from Canada who are doing the drive from north to south this very minute and posting updates as they go. They got to Arizona yesterday and I think they are crossing into Mexico today. You can follow their updates on their facebook page and they seem happy enough to answer questions.
Oct 25, 2012 8:36 AM
9Actually I don't think you can drive a Centro America/Mexico Registered/Plate car in the USA, if you are a US Citizen, it will be confiscated at the US Border. Mexican owners of a vehicle with Mexico plates and a Mexico Drivers license can drive across the US Border with all papers in order, but a US Citizen can not.
But thats is for Mexico, not for other countries, they may have a different Agreement/Treaty concerning Mexican Vehicles/Mexican Citizenship.
Yes you are are correct a vehicle 25 years old does not need to meet the Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal safety/pollution Guidelines.
So, are you a US Citizen, or Costa Rican, and are you driving it with plans to return to Costa Rica or import it. I recall an issue with the type of VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) for Country of Origin as well, it needs to start with a certain series of numbers/letters in order to be allowed/driven in the US at all. You might be able to Flat Bed it in otherwise. These are Federal Issues, not individual State issues, the US border would enforce these rules.
I also dont think a US Citizen with a US Driver License is allowed to drive a Foreign Registered/Plate vehicle in the US, they need to have a Foreign Drivers License and Foreign Residency if the car has Foreign Registration/Plates.
Oct 25, 2012 8:50 AM
10thanks costaricaguide. i will ask them.
boom dog, I never decided I was an expert on anything, just having fun traveling around the WORLD and making enough money to cover my expenses and pay for my trips in the process. I have however imported 11 cars in the past 15 months from 5 different countries definitely making me more than a novice. How many cars have you imported there guy?
wire dude, the last car i imported from Panama cost me $7800 with shipping, and after getting it registered in California I sold it for $12,800 not $3700. I have discovered a niche here in the US with a car that never was never legal here but found a loop hole of how to register them in California making the cars I am bringing in SUPER unique.
Also, talked to a guy yesterday who buys these same cars in Argentina and drives them all of the way back, you basically need the same 5 forms that you do in every other country in the world. gave me many helpful hints. Said its not that big of a deal if you use common sense and said its an "experience of a lifetime" which is exactly what I am looking for!
Oct 25, 2012 8:56 AM
Oct 25, 2012 9:00 AM
Oct 25, 2012 9:09 AM
13I am confused. If you have sold a Panama or Costa Rican purchased vehicle in California, then how did you you get the car from CR/Panama to California? Also, If you did drive it to the USA, did it have plates/registration from a Central America country, and how did that all work with Customs/Immigration in the US?
Nobody here on this forum has had this question asked before, plenty of North Americans driving or importing cars to the region, but not the other way around. I know you asked about the drive, and not the laws/rules/importing, but it jumps out as a obvious issue and people here are only trying to help, Wiremu lives in CR from USA and Boomer lived in CR from UK.
My response above was just trying to help with what I know about it, as a buddy tried to bring a old Toyota FJ Land Cruiser from CR to USA and had no luck, and I love those old classics, some great ones in CR in all colors...
As for the drive itself, it really depends on your interest. Each country has many highlights, with 4 weeks, I would focus on Nicaragua and Guatemala as for as a cultural trip.
Oct 25, 2012 9:30 AM
14stukeydude: i am talking about buying a car in costa rica, not panama. with your hefty experience in central and south america, you should know that all the countries are different.
instead of the back and forth here, why don't you just investigate for yourself? you can look at this website for car values: http://www.hacienda.go.cr/autohacienda/autovalor.aspx
you can also look at the largest daily newspaper in costa rica for more car prices: la nacion
of course, it could be that the cargo is more valuable than the car.
Edited by: wiremu
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