Registro will keep an eye on your property for $15

A.M. Costa Rica graphic Registro Web site features a copy of a mural. ‘La Patria’ by César Valverde which is in the legislature.

There is a great way to protect property and foil attempts by property thieves in Costa Rica by using Registro Nacional Digital asset monitoring service.  The best news is the latter is cheap, only $15 per year.  There is no better way to protect a property in Costa Rica for $1.25 a month.  Expats can also save money by using the other many service offerings.  The system now includes more certifications plus many free reports.

The login instructions published on May 2, 2011,are still accurate.  Access to certifications and free reports, verification of certifications, and to find out how much is due for a company’s yearly tax, now have direct links.

The property monitoring service provides a user of the service an immediate alert if there is any movement on a covered asset, which includes real property as well as some personal property assets like vehicles.  The Registro Nacional records a lot of information about an asset, including these: where the property is located, its ownership, size, fiscal value.

Details regarding easements, liens, annotations and other important information are also present on the report.  Any information change triggers an alert.  Think of it like a picture of an asset.  If the picture changes, even in the slightest way, a user gets an email and cell phone text message.

An expat using the service sent his accountant to pay the property taxes on his family’s home that was three years in arrears.  The accountant paid the tax to the municipality that corresponded to his neighborhood on a Wednesday in the afternoon.  Unbelievably, the next day on Thursday, the Registro Nacional had already changed the fiscal value of the property to up the tax for next year and the expat started to receive emails and text messages.

Actually, the Registro kept sending messages until he had to call and complain.  Notifying people of pending tax increases is only an added benefit of the system.  Alerting owners of property theft and other foul play is its main purpose.

It is easy to sign up and use the system.  The first step is to set up an account with the Registro National.  The second step is to purchase the service using the shopping cart requiring a credit card. American Express is not accepted, only Visa and Master Card.  Remember, real property as well as some personal property like a vehicle is coverable.  The third and final step is to select the service at the top of the menu calledBienes Monitoreados and add the asset to the system.

There is a rumor floating around a few well-connected people pushed this part of the law though for personal gain.  Most other services existing before are now defunct.  Whatever the case, this is an excellent addition to the Registro Nacional’s offerings.

Others are the free services.  Which is the third item on the menu named Consultas Gratuitas.There is a star next to the section.  It is important to note, these free reports are informative not certifications.  However, they contain most of the same important information.  Two of the many great free reports for home and property owners are the Consulta por Número de Finca and the Consulta de Plano.  The first being, property report by finca number, and the later, plat report.  A finca is the term used for lots and property parcels in Costa Rica, no matter the size.

The Consulta por Número de Finca gives an owner the property record, the Consulta de Plano is the information on the history of divisions.  Actual digital pictures of plats are also available for many properties including hi-resolution versions but they must be purchased.

Not too many years ago every time someone needed something from the Registro Nacional, Costa Rica’s public records source, they had to go there physically or send a messenger.  Most people paid their legal professional to get the information at a very high price.  Most importantly, it was just downright inconvenient.

Over the past few months, the Registro Nacional Digital is under going some maintenance on the weekends.  These outages are to make improvements and to add more reports and options.  The cost of certifications has not risen much since the service began.  The only noticeable difference is due to exchange rate fluctuations. Certification costs 2,800 colons today, or $5.70.  They cost the same in 2011.
Expats will find the Web site in Spanish.

Having the site in English would be a nice addition.  However, there is a great work around. Google, for example, offers a feature incorporated in search engine called translate this page.  The translation is highly accurate and almost as good as having the web site translated natively into English.

Why pay a legal professional an average price of $40 for a report obtainable for $6.  Both have the same validity.  Some institutions were slow adopters in accepting the documents as legal but most do today.  It is the law to accept the documents.  An interesting note: the documents all use to be in blue.  If one took them to an institution and they were not printed in blue, there was a good chance they would not be accepted.

Today, that is not the case.  All documents are printed using black ink. Actually, the certifications are legal even if they are not printed but just a digital image on an electronic device. Who wants to print on paper anymore?  Next time just put it on an iPad.

Garland M. Baker is a 42-year resident and naturalized citizen of Costa Rica who provides multidisciplinary professional services to the international community.  Reach him at  Baker has undertaken the research leading to these series of articles in conjunction with A.M. Costa Rica.  Find the collection at, a complimentary reprint is available at the end of each article.  Copyright 2013, use without permission prohibited.

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