From Gringo to Tico Blog

Panama border crossing – taking our truck across Nov, 2013
November 27, 2013, 12:17 pm
Filed under: Border Crossings - Panama, Driving in Costa Rica | Tags: ,

Doing the Panama Border – Nov 21, 2013-11-25

We went to Panama for our 90-day visa stamp. We took our truck across so that we could purchase some larger items at the Do It Center and PriceMart.
We got the necessary permit to take our truck out of Costa Rica from our lawyer and it cost us C35,000.00 or around $75.00 to get this permit.

We got our passports stamped out of Costa Rica first.
We took the permit to the Costa Rican “Aduana” office, behind the Passport office, beside the bathroom. We waited a few minutes for our turn, as there is always a few truckers in there getting their paper work processed.
They processed the permit, gave us a new piece of paper and inspected the truck.

We then went to the Panama side.

Park in the lane closest to the building. There is usually someone there to direct you.
The first thing to do here is go across the street, to the office that sells Insurance for $15.00 and makes copies of your Costa Rica exit stamp.
Then, go to the Passport window (go in the “Transportista” line cause you have a vehicle) and have your passport stamped in to Panama. They asked to see $500 and our car Insurance. I did not actually have the entire $500, but showed them what I had quickly and disorganized; and a credit card. That worked.


Then, go back around the corner and up the stairs( between the Aduana and the Passport control areas) to the Police office and get the paper from Costa Rica stamped.


Go to the Aduana office to get the paper work processed to enter Panama. You will have to wait a while…maybe 30 – 45 minutes to get this completed, as they are also processing all the truckers paperwork, and you do have to wait your turn.

Once this paperwork is completed, they will give it to you and inspect your vehicle.
Then you go a few feet ahead, pay $1.00 to have your vehicle sprayed for insects, at the door on the left, and end of the building.
Proceed through the spray booth.
A kilometer or so down the road there will be a checkpoint, where they will inspect your paper work to ensure you have completed all the documents, and process.

Returning to Costa Rica:

Park at the front of the Panama Customs building right where you drive up to it. An official will ask you what you are doing, tell him you are returning to Costa Rica.
Go to the Aduana / vehicle office further down the building, on the same wall as where you got your permit to enter Panama. They will stamp the permit.


Move your vehicle into the lane nearest the building to proceed through the border.
The picture above was taken while in that lane. The fellow is the official inspecting a vehicle. The guys with these T-shirts are the only ones you need to speak with, outside of the offices. There are “Banditos” wearing similar T-shirts, with official looking name tags….and they are smooth! One grabbed my papers as if he was an official ..had me believing him for a minute!
Then, go and check your passport out of Panama – you can go in the short “transportista” line, right beside the inspection lane, because you have a vehicle- and show the permit to the official. Much quicker if here is a long line up!

Your vehicle will then be inspected….either visually by an officer and / or by a dog; and your paper initialed by the officer who insects the vehicle
Go back to the Vehicle office and they will take the permit. The window you need to go to when leaving Panama is behind the Official guy.
You are done here.

Go to Costa Rica customs, park along the front of the building.
Get your passport stamped into Costa Rica, (get a form from the window and fill it out before you get to the window) Show your vehicle papers (registration) to the official, if asked for them. We presented our registration with our passport; the official glanced at it, and stamped us 90 days!

Go to the Aduana office, around and behind the Immigration area, beside the bathrooms; and check your vehicle back into Costa Rica, fill out a Customs declaration form for your purchases made in Panama.
The official will then inspect your vehicle, and have a look at your purchases, and go back in the office to complete the paper work.

They will review your declaration form and stamp your passport at the back, which means that you cannot purchase duty free for 6 months. You have exceeded your limit. They gave us this stamp, even though we only claimed $300.00 and we are actually allowed $500 per person when out for 3 days. I am not sure why they do this…this is the second time we have received this stamp. (only on the vehicle owner’s passport)

When we came to the checkpoint at Km 32 between Rio Claro and Palmar Sur, the official only looked at out passport stamps. Other times when we get stopped their, they inspect the truck and hassle us about purchases made at the border or while in Panama. They tell us that we always have to stop at the Aduana office and declare our purchases. So that is what we did. I am not sure the rhyme or reason here at this check stop. We never really know what to expect from these guys.

Over all, it cost us about $100 to take our vehicle into Panama, and because we could go in to the “Transportista” lines at the passport window, we cleared all the borders in about 1.5 hours each way. Faster than being in the regular line-up on the Panama side.

It was nice to have our own vehicle…and to pay for parking is about $15 per day at Paso Canoas, plus all the busses and taxi’s…I think the cost to take the truck across is worth it!
We did not have to show airline, or bus tickets at either border; and it was pretty easy, breezy!
We will do this again.


Update on new Corporate taxes
June 8, 2012, 4:13 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags:

Inactive Corporations Have June to Avoid Tax

If you have a business that is inactive, you have the rest of this month to “unregister” it to avoid paying a tax, imposed in April, on it. But either way, it will cost you some money.
This year, since the tax is new, an active bearer share corporation (sociedad anonima or S.A.) will pay a preferential rate of ¢135,225 colones while the inactive one pays ¢67,612 colones.

Editor’s Note:

The Registro Nacional (RN) is the government agency that issues certificates on properties, including corporations, such as the “personeria juridica” and the permit to take a vehicle out of the country.

The personeria juridica is required for banking, legal and other transactions of behalf of a corporation, including the purchase of a vehicle, a house or business or subscription cellular service if in a corporate name.

The RN (or lawyer or notary public) will not issue the personeria, nor the permit to take out a vehicle (owned by a corporation) while there the tax remains unpaid.

But these figures will rise next year to ¢180,300 and ¢90,150 respectively. If one ignores the tax entirely, one could face a mortgage on one’s property. And, of course, the deadbeat faces a 13.3% interest on the unpaid amount.

This amounts to ¢50 colones per day on an active company, ¢25 per day for the inactive. And, of course, owing the tax makes it impossible to do many transactions through the Registro Nacional (Public Registry). And non-payment for three taxing periods can automatically dissolve the firm.

For many years, the Finance Ministry has been hampered in collecting taxes on companies since its auditors must hack their way through a jungle of moribund companies that are cluttering up the registry.

Carlos Camacho, president of Grupo Camacho, suggests the best way to save money is to wipe the company’s name off the Public Registry of June 30. Bit it will not be free. The registry will charge you ¢122,205 colones in legal stamps and other costs.

By Rod Hughes,

RTV New Rules, June 1, 2012
June 6, 2012, 5:13 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Riteve new rules apply from Thursday, June 1, 2012
MAY 29, 2012
12:43 AM

I DID NOT EDIT THE TRANSLATION…THIS IS HOW IT SHOWED UP ON THE WEBSITE….so forgive the language-ing and errors in translation!

The new regulations of RTV inspections shall enter into force on 1 June, 2012, and all 17 stations of the company Riteve are ready to meet the new requirements of the Road Safety Council (COSEVI).
Each time the COSEVI decides to vary the rules, Riteve must invest in the calibration of the machines, the adaptation of computer systems and staff training, which may require time.
However, according to Herrera Berlioth spokeswoman Riteve, all these requirements have been met.
“In fact the new manual includes some changes requested by the company, for example, regarding the lights. Now, having a light burning is considered a misdemeanor, because these circumstances are easily detectable by road traffic officers, “said the spokeswoman.
Herrera explained that in cases such as the directional light is burned misdemeanor, but more than one is a serious offense and the vehicle will have to go again for the vehicular inspection.
They go from mild to serious misconduct include:
-Vehicles without a metal plate, provided that they submit the application for reinstatement made by the Public Registry.
-A single light burned out – discretionary on the front, rear or either side is mild. If you have more of a burn on one of these areas is severe.
-A single light burned out, brake light burned out or loose plate is mild, but the lack of them is serious.
-Lower CO2 emissions as specified in the regulations on gasoline vehicles or LPG is recorded as slight defect.
-The braking action of brake defects were divided into two: If you are between 16 and 18% mild, if less than 16% is severe.
-Dents or deformations in the rings are now slight defects will only be serious if they are broken.
He creates a gradual leak on the effects of the elements of the gearbox, if the leak is only slight and severe if dripping wet.
-If fixing fenders and a little loose skirts, this is mild, but if they do not function to prevent the particles to shoot other vehicles or others because they do not cover the entire tread is serious.
New minor defects
-If the baggage or cargo doors have a risk of sudden opening.
-If there are cracks or bumps on the windshield or windows with radius greater than 10 cm and are outside the view of the conductor.
-When the brushes are worn.
-If the spare tire is not properly attached to the vehicle.
-If you uninstall the headrest or seat to the vehicle.
-If lights signal flashers do not work.
When light-special vehicle parking is not the regulatory burden (white located on the side).
-If the emission control system of closed circulation is incomplete or the vehicle does not.
-When the suspension bench test the effectiveness of suspension of the wheels of the same axis is greater than 35%.
-The existence of structures or elements that protrude from the vehicle width or length.
He will check the state of the door mirrors, if not allowed to look back completely, scores a serious defect, but if you have a small injury that does not obstruct the vision is totally mild.
New serious flaws:
-The absence of the reversing light.
-If the vehicles do not have at least 4 Discretionary lights (two front and two rear) and those measuring more than 6 feet long, should have two additional sides.
‘If you release the brake pedal the car is braking. This will be verified by testing mechanized brake tester.
-In heavy trucks, will trap if the power the wheels do not lock the same axis simultaneously.
-The parking brake system must be complete and must be independent of service brake system.
-The absence or malfunction of the low pressure indicator of the brake system on heavy trucks.
-The existence of sharps in the rings.
Absence or non-functioning seat belts for rear seats (take effect from January 1, 2013).
-If the fuel tank and hoses or pipes are corroded, or loose hit.
-When items containing fuel are near an area of the vehicle that occurs as the flask Calos, battery or electrical connections.
-The existence of leaks in the engine fuel system of vehicles using LPG as fuel.
-If the vehicle transporting dangerous goods do not carry a fire extinguisher of 2.27 pounds of dry chemical in the cabin and one of 9.07 kg of dry chemical in the cargo area and this can not be defeated.
-Vehicles registered after 2009 are recorded gross misconduct if the seats have headrests (come into effect from January 1, 2013).

A newsletter worthy of subscribing to……
June 6, 2012, 4:53 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

Chayote Vine Newsletter

…a connection to the rural and holistic community in and around San Isidro and the southern zone. The newsletter is produced once a week, and is filled with valuable local information.

…whether looking to purchase locally grown honey, cacao or a car…this is a great resource!

The owner-creator of the newsletter, Vicki, has a booth at the San Isidro Feria every week, and is a strong promoter of local producers and products!  If you are at the feria …look for her booth at the back of the building and try some of her tasty samples!

The mailing address is Chayotevine is a private email list, not to be posted on any webpages, blogs, etc.
 Some of the content is of a personal nature and their policy has always been private mail only, since Vicki started the Vine over 10 years ago. 
Most weeks the Chayotevine will be sent out on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.

To subscribe to this newsletter, send Vicki an e-mail at

….more information about the South Pacific Zone
May 26, 2012, 7:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

Where to get more information about the South Pacific Zone:


Uvita Tourist Information Center – next to the Dona Maria restaurant.





San Isidro / Perez Zeledon

Your Prepaid Kolbi Cell Phone
May 26, 2012, 5:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

Recharge Methods

Prepaid card: purchase your recharge card, scratch and discover the PIN and KEY on the back of your card, then dial 1150 from your phone, choose option 1 and type in the PIN, the KEY and go.

Pin-mail: to acquire your email to receive pin voucher or proof of payment, where the KEY and PIN, dial 1150 from your phone, choose option 1 and type in the PIN, the KEY and go.

Automatic Recharge: Recharge your service from any authorized dealer, the desired amount will be credited from a cell phone or website to your Kölbi prepayment.
With this mode, you can recharge your prepaid Kölbi from ¢ 100 colones to ¢ 25 000.

You should check the phone number before recharging as you can not reverse the transaction.

For the modalities of electronic Pin and Prepaid Card, you can buy them in denominations of ¢ 2500, ¢ 5000 and ¢ 10000.

How to keep your line active?

To keep your line active you just have to make a charge over a period of 120 calendar days after your service activated or last recharge.

All prepaid services have three stages: Active, Inactive and Elimination of the service.
After 120 days of not carrying out any service charge will fall in an inactive state and can remain there until 30 days to return to active status should only generate a recharge. When generating a recharge your service active stage will retain the balance you had before.

Once completed the 150 days of inactivity (not generate reloads) the service will be removed permanently. Losing the balance is in the service.
You will receive an invitation to recharge via SMS when you have 100 to 120 days without charges.

To see balances, maturities and refills

Call the toll free number 1150, option 2, you will hear the balance of your prepaid service.
OR Send a blank SMS to 1150 and receive information on the balance of your prepaid service.

Charge transfer between kölbi prepaid services
Call the toll free number 1150, I chose option 3, and perform a balance transfer to another kölbi prepaid using the last 6 digits of your phone as a password.

In addition:
Transfers can be from ¢ 500 and up.
You have the possibility of up to three daily transfers.
The only requirement is that the balance of your prepaid service kölbi should be more than a thousand colones, so the account must have at least 1500 colones at the time of transfer.

….from the Kolbi website, May 25, 2012

New Orphanage in Southern Costa Rica..near Cuidad Cortez
May 26, 2012, 5:49 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

Refuge of Love Orphanage

We are pleased to announce that land to house the Refuge of Love has been graciously donated by Mr. Jim Gale, President and Founder of Osa Mountain Village, next to the Osa Mountain Village office.  On this land will sit their living spaces, kitchen, education, and sustainability facilities.

The first program to be implemented is the day care and education center.  The goal will be to provide a safe and enriching day care environment for the children and an environment of support and learning for the mothers of the children.  This will afford them the opportunity to strengthen and maintain the family unit.

As the Refuge of Love develops the orphanage program, not only will it be a home, but a school where each child will learn to value life from all aspects and receive a proper education that they never would have had the opportunity to receive. A small group of locals will be part of the Refuge as teachers and mentors to these young orphans. The development team will work hard to design a teaching internship program, bringing in teaching students from all over the world to work with our local teachers and children to minimize our class sizes while maximizing the effectiveness of our education system.

The Refuge will also work to create opportunities for residents of Osa Mountain Village and community locals to become involved in mentoring programs designed to give these orphans opportunities and advantages they never would have had. The team will work to get textbooks and school supplies donated, while also working with local teachers and businesses to create internships to spend time mentoring the children in job and business skills.  They plan to develop a program of giving back where past orphans of the Refuge can return and give back to their local communities, as well as the Refuge.  As these children become young adults themselves, they can provide opportunities to mentor and further improve the communities that shaped their lives.

On top of this all, they will be dedicated to providing the resources to provide each child with the opportunity of higher education. Should they not be able to raise enough money in order to directly hire teachers during the initiation of this program, they can take advantage of the fact that in Costa Rica, all children are guaranteed the right to a public education. Every major town in Costa Rica has a public elementary and high school where literacy rates are consistently over 95%. In rural areas, the government will either pay to bus children to the closest school or, if there are enough students, will send a teacher to provide private classes.

You can learn more about the refuge, it’s mission, plans and how to support them at: