Need to get your car inspected? It'll be a while. If you are trying to get an appointment to have your car inspected and can't get past the calendar window on RITEVE's website, you are not
Need to get your car inspected? It’ll be a while.
If you are trying to get an appointment to have your car inspected and can’t get past the calendar window on RITEVE’s website, you are not alone. On July 15th, after 20 years of service in Costa Rica, the Spanish company “Riteve SyC” that handled the Revisión Técnica de Vehículos (RITEVE) suspended operations, that entails, leaving thousands of Costa Rican car owners without any way to have their cars inspected. The problem is the following:
While the Costa Rican government owns the equipment and the facilities used to facilitate car inspections, operations for the twelve locations have been outsourced to a third party contractor,named RITEVE since 2002, with the goal of changing an entire nation’s culture of road safety education. While the contract was set to expire several years ago, there was an annual extension of the contract every year. Finally in 2022, the Comptroller General (Contraloría General de la República) determined that the contract could not be renewed and the assets should returned to the government. While the government announced that the approval of international accreditations will promote this opportunity to inspection companies around the world, there has not been a single bid from another contractor to take on the work.
A little bit of background may help you understand why this is a chronicle of a death foretold. A RITEVE inspection for cars cost ₡16,000 (about $24). If you had an issue with your car and needed a second inspection, the follow-up visit would cost you an additional ₡8,000 (about $12). The Spaniard company stated in 2012 that the rates were not enough to cover their own costs, much less turn a profit, forcing them to impose a lawsuit against the Costa Rican government, which they lost in 2017.
The government is determined to finding more competitive and lower prices for this service, which, as with anything else the government does, takes time. While the process of hiring a new definitive dealership and restarting operations can take upon 2 years, the permit of the service will be given to a temporary company. All potential contractors must undergo a process of accreditation and any company with all the credentials up to date -even RITEVE- can apply. As you can imagine, this will take quite a long time to sort through and have the results president Rodrigo Chaves is looking for.
According to the government, the fact that Costa Rica is the owner of the facilities and the equipment, this should translate into a reduction in the first and subsequent inspection service, as the company provides fewer resources.
In the meantime, this has created quite a lot of confusion for those of us with stickers expiring in the next few months. While technically there is a 2 month grace period past the expiration date which means that if your technical review expires on July, it would now do so on September, we believe the issue with RITEVE will take longer to be resolved.
Who is affected?
Currently, cars with inspection stickers expiring in July, August and September of 2022. Shortly, it will be most everyone with expirations before the end of this quarter. Beyond that, the rest of the year.
Drivers must have the approved inspection to obtain their registration certificate each year and their non-compliance is a violation of the Traffic Law, which is punishable by a ₡56,000 (about $84) fine and the confiscation of the license plates of the vehicle.
Buying or selling a car
The good news is having a valid inspection sticker is not a pre-requisite for a car’s inscription in the National Registry, which means this should not affect car sales. Outlier Legal still advises that you only buy from reputable sources, have the car inspected by a qualified mechanic and use your best judgement if the inspection sticker is past expiration by several months, as this likely isn’t due to the current issue with RITEVE. Our Real Estate team is very well versed in car transfers and we are happy to guide you with any service of the above that you require.
The RITEVE issue has a snowball effect. In order to pay your Marchamo (Costa Rica’s annual road tax including mandatory insurance – sort of like car registration in the US), and obtain the respective sticker, you must have had the car inspected on time. This means without an inspection, the Marchamo cannot be paid. Not only would these cars be past inspection, they will be past the annual tax and out of mandatory insurance, too.
For this reason, among many others, we sincerely hope this issue gets resolved before the end of the year.