Costa Rica - Country Commercial Guide
Automotive Parts, Accessories, and Service Equipment
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Local production of auto parts in Costa Rica is limited to small electrical and metal parts, batteries, electrical copper cable, hydraulic seals, filters (air/gasoline), steel leaf springs, aluminum and steel wheels, windshields, carpets, hoses, mufflers, bus bodies, seat covers and tires.  Major U.S. competitors in this sector are China, Japan, Mexico, and South Korea.

The auto parts supply from China has continued to grow over the last three years and in 2020, Chinatook the number one spot from U.S. suppliers, attaining a 33 percent market share compared to the U.S remaining stagnant at 26 percent.  China’s growth in the market it is slowing down due to logistical and supply chain problems as well as quality control problems as local importers are looking back at buying from the United States.

Overall, it should be noted that total imports in this sector steadily increased after the pandemic a result of the global economy coming back from the slow-down during 2020 and 2021.  Most people kept their vehicles as the new car trend remains down due to additional taxes imposed to the local entrepreneurs that were already carrying a heavy load, as compared to the taxes with most world economies. During 2022 and 2023, there was an increase in purchases of new vehicles and 10% from those imports were EV’s.

Even though Costa Rica is the perfect market for auto parts; due to its’ bad road infrastructure, crowded streets, lots of wear and tear due to unending traffic, the market is also mature and offers all types of brands, and a range of products varying in quality and services.  It is important to take into consideration that the Costa Rican market is mostly a price-driven market, but there is always a niche for high-value parts from the United States.

The surge on the imports of used low-cost vehicles from South Korea and China during the last few decades led to a growing increase in auto parts imports directly from Asia or through a distributor in the U.S.  However, with current market conditions, long shipping times from Asia and unreliable quality controls, Costa Rican customers have begun to come back to purchasing parts from the U.S. and more reliable neighboring countries.

Leading Sub-Sectors         

The number of cars in Costa Rica has more than doubled since 2010 with more than 1.8 million vehicles registered.  Of those vehicles, 65 percent are automotive vehicles, 33 percent are motorcycles, and 1.5 percent are buses with the average age of a Costa Rican vehicle at about 18 years old.   During 2023, about 10% of imported vehicles are electric vehicles and from those about 80% come from China.

Used Vehicles

Some of the cars on Costa Rican roads are imported as “used” from the United States have extras that are not standard in new cars found in Costa Rica and come with a lower price tag.  This trend is decreasing due to the improved promotion of new vehicles and better support from the local banking system with financing for new cars.   The automobile 10-day fair, Expo Auto, organized by the Chamber of New Car Importers (AIVEMA), has been very successful in past years helping new car dealers do a lot of business in one place.

Additionally, in 2019, the government passed a regulation that requires the checking of every used vehicle’s VIN to track all cars imported into the country and ensure companies are complying with the law that states if a vehicle was used as a police car or rental car, it cannot be imported into Costa Rica.  The Association of Importers of Used Vehicles (CCA) as well as other two Chambers of Used Vehicles (ACAAU Y AEPSAU) have been against this regulation as it is not only stopping the imports of totaled cars but many other categories of titles that do not cause any danger to Costa Rican users. In addition, this regulation only negatively impacts used vehicles from the United States that has a valid VIN registration system.  Vehicles from other countries without such a system are not subjected to additional scrutiny. 

Costa Rican importers of automotive accessories mainly purchase their products in the U.S., although a growing portion of these items are coming from outside U.S. sources. 

According to several Costa Rican importers of automotive parts, good sales opportunities continue for virtually all categories of products in this sector.  High quality, durability, availability and an assortment of vehicle parts, and fast delivery are the main factors for successful U.S. sales of these products.  Chinese-made products are the low-end option for the Costa Ricans when importing auto parts.

Electric Vehicles and Chargers

Costa Rica is the first Latin American country to sign a law incentivizing the purchase of electric vehicles (EV).  In 2018, former Costa Rican President Solis signed a law to promote the adoption of electric vehicles through tax breaks and other incentives.  The Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) promulgated the regulations to implement the law.  In 2022, the legislature approved, and then- President Alvarado signed an extension of incentives for another 12 years. Currently, out of the roughly 1.2 million automobiles in Costa Rica, only 1,200 are 100 percent electric.  The government projects that this number will grow because of the law’s incentives, and that by 2035 Costa Rica will have over 100,000 electric cars on the streets.

The new law establishes many incentives for the purchase of EVs.  The law waives the taxes and duties for imported EVs based upon the value of the vehicle.  The exemptions will be applied on a progressive basis, such that a vehicle that costs $40,000 would get the full exemption for the first $30,000 and the intermediate exemption on the remaining $10,000.  Press reports estimate that EV buyers could save between $5,000 and $10,000 based upon these incentives.  Beyond the initial tax benefits, EV owners will also benefit from tax exemptions for replacement parts, free parking at public parking meters, and these vehicles will not be subject to driving restrictions to reduce traffic.  Any companies that decide to manufacture EVs in Costa Rica will be able to import assembly and production equipment tax free. 

Currently, new or used EVs circulating in Costa Rica include the following brands:  Aion, Airways, Audi, BMW, BYD, Chery, Chevrolet, Dulevo, DFSK, FAW, Fiat, Ford, KIA, Letin, Levdeo, Great Wall, Hyundai, JAC, Jaguar, MG, Maxus, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Renault, Reva, Smart, Tesla, Volkswagen, Wuling, Yema, Xpeng, and Yudo and ZD.  There were 150 EV´s imported reported up to 2018, currently there are 6,540 EV´s in Costa Rica in 2022.

According to the Costa Rican Electric Mobility Association (ASOMOVE), there are 37 quick chargers and 110 semi quick chargers in the country.  Electromaps reports 268 locations.   Despite the improving charging infrastructure, there is still a lot of space for growth, especially with the private sector.

It is important for the U.S. parts market to follow this trend in Costa Rica, as electric vehicles have an average of 200 parts, while combustion engine vehicles have over 1,000 parts.


Since the ratification of CAFTA-DR, U.S. suppliers are now well positioned to expand their market share for automotive parts. CAFTA-DR better positions U.S. exporters to take advantage of this expanding market. Import taxes for automotive parts before CAFTA ranged from zero to 29.95 percent, depending on the product. Most of these import taxes disappeared immediately with CAFTA-DR approval for auto parts; others were gradually reduced to zero import taxes over a period of 10 years. Imports of vehicles continue to be highly taxed domestically in Costa Rica.

Opportunities are opening in other areas such as electric vehicle chargers, battery replacement batteries and servicing for electric vehicles.

Web Resources

CS Costa Rica Commercial Specialist Roy Fernandez


CS Costa Rica (U.S. Department of Commerce):


Association of Importers of Auto Parts – ACIRA


Association of Used Vehicle Importers – AEPSAU


Costa Rican Automotive Chamber – CCA


Costa Rican Association of Importers of Vehicles – AIVEMA


Movilidad Electrica (Oganization) – Electric Mobility Advocate


Costa Rican Customs Directorate, Ministry of Finance