The National Registry - Property Registration In Costa Rica

The Costa Rican National Registry (Registro Nacional) is the central location for property records in the country. The registry records the ownership information on many types of property:

  • Mobile Property (registered vehicles) including: motorbikes, cars, boats, trucks, street legal quadricycles – aka ATVs, bicycles, light cargo (pickups), office equipment, tow trucks, buses, taxis, aquatic transport and heavy cargo vehicles.
  • Real Property, including: Farms, lots, horizontal condominiums, condominium buildings, possession rights, concession rights, access rights, mortgages and liens on property.
  • Intellectual Property, including: patents on inventions, industrial designs, software, trademarks, service marks, copyrights, and author's rights.
  • Legal Entities, including: Corporations (Sociedad Anonimas), Limited Liability Companies and Partnerships, (Responsibilidad Limatada), Sport Clubs and Civic Groups.

The main web site is Or you can go to the directly to the page where you access the online database for different types of property. It is important to note that the National Registry is the authority on who owns what in the country. Documents must be presented to the registry in order to be valid. If the owner of some land sells it to one person today, and to another the next month, whichever presented the paperwork correctly to the registry first will be the owner of record. Similarly, once a property is registered in your name, no one can produce documents from a prior time that were not submitted to the registry in order to claim ownership of the property. The Registry rules!

This is why it is very important to make sure that your lawyer presents documents to the National Registry in a timely fashion when you buy or sell property. Whoever gets to the registry first will win in case of any dispute, and each hour that goes by without your documents being presented represents an additional risk to your registration of the property.

Having a central clearinghouse for data is very convenient and fair, but there is also a risk involved. Have you ever had your hard drive fail? So while having a central registry gives you peace of mind, since it protects your property from past claims cropping up out of nowhere, there is also the risk of having something happen to the record in that registry to place your property in jeopardy.

You can verify your property's status online at the National Registry.(see links above) In order to fully protect yourself, you should verify this information on a daily basis. As practical matter this is not likely, and even checking it on a monthly basis is difficult, except for the truly organized. However, there is an automated service that will review this information for you on a daily basis, the fee is very reasonable.  They also have an additional service to take direct action to protect your property in case of any change.

Find out more here PPR Registry Protection Service

Read this article for details about criminal methods used for carrying out the fraud, click here Property and Registry Fraud in Costa Rica