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Registering a car – an expat experience in Nicaragua

We needed to register a car that we purchased from another expat earlier, from Managua.

We purchased the vehicle under the company name since neither of us have residency papers. This is one way to bypass the requirement of having residency papers. We first looked for a list of places we could get our vehicle tested for smog and mechanical checked. We selected a place in Masaya, a list of other places you can get this done can be found here: its best to call ahead to see if they are busy. No waiting in line here in Masaya. Took us 20 minutes to get all tests performed and pay C$550.00 for two documents: “Certificado de emisiones” and “inspeccion tecnica mecanica vehicular”.

Next we needed insurance coverage, so we got quotes from 2 companies and decided to go with Lafise, since they were lower priced and we bank with them. We needed to bring many documents to get the car insured, I recommend you make a copy of all the following documents and bring originals:

Company registration documents

RUC for the company

City inscription of the company


Drivers license (US)

Documents of previous owner – drivers license and passport

Circulacion Vehuclar

Purchase contract

With that we received a new insurance card. Make sure the insurance provider has correct VIN number on all paperwork.

Off to Managua to DGI Catastro to pay transfer fee for the purchase of the vehicle. We had all the paperwork above including the insurance policy/card. Again, make copies of all the document. Not to worry if you forget to make copies I got mine done in one of the casitas (small vendor sheds) where we also purchased a timbre (stamp) so we could do business at DGI. It cost C$50 for the stamp and C$20 for overhead for seller. We had to place our name on another form, and we waited 30 minutes for our name to be called. We sat with an official who reviewed our documents, and told us to return at 3 pm for the DGI assessment papers. At 330pm we finally received our papers from DGI where they assessed us the purchased value of the vehicle and we had to pay a 1% assessed value in taxes.

We went to BDF bank to pay the assessment of 1%, and received a paid receipt.

We were too late to go to police department so we went back the following day.

At the transit (transito) police department, first thing you need to do is go to the bank and pay the transit and cedula and change of ownership fees. It was a total of C$600.00. We had a long line but we completed this task with no issues in 1 hour. Than off to the City (Alcaldia) to get a car sticker. Since this is a company car we paid C$150.00 – double check again that the VIN is correct on the receipt you receive, we had to return since it was done incorrect. The normal fee for personnel car is C$100.00.

At the police department where one has to register the car and get a car tag we were told that its not 6m mo’s we had to register the car but within 60 days so we were assessed 3% fine on the transaction value. That was a big hit in C$, but at least a lesson learned to verify with others, not expats. They found 2 errors in paperwork all related to the VIN number – insurance card and Alcaldia receipt of car tag payment. Paperwork needed is same set above but also the payment you made at Lafise Pago de ingresso Tributarios: derechos de matricula, placas vehiculo de cuatro, licencia de circulacion and at BDF Cerificado Avalluo Catastral de Bienes Muebles (it’s the one with that actually has the timbre (stamp) on that you purchased earlier to go to DGI Catastro.

Overall this process was clear but in my opinion time consuming. I did bring a Nica friend with me for the process to make sure I had someone with me to assist in getting documents printed or buying the needed stamps, etc. It really helped having an additional set of hands.

Also for those with a company car you must have your attorney provide a “Power of Attorney” if you still are not a Nicaraguan resident to allow you to register the car.

As I stated previously, please verify in your own community, the steps may be similar but you might have to perform this in a different area of town.

Make sure when your car is inspected at Police Department (final inspection) for VIN numbers, that you also have a fire extinguiser and a warning signs diagonal.

The following are the various laws related to motor vehicles, including motorcycles in Nicaragua$All)/7D84D8171C6818F806257CC900589FEC?OpenDocument

As I stated previously, this was our experience, and your experience might be totally different. We had Pedro Sanchez from Managua work with us for the two days it took us to complete all the steps.

Good luck and enjoy your stay.

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