Costa Rica has a legal system where the title of cars are recorded in the Public Registry of Costa Rica with their own title number. The procedure to purchase a vehicle is done by a Public Notary of Costa Rica by preparing a public deed that will be signed by the buyer and the seller of the car. The payment of the purchase price is normally paid after the signature of this public deed.
Once the public deed is signed, the parties have to pay transfer taxes in order for the public registry to record de transfer of the car. After the transfer taxes are paid, the public notary will send the public deed to the public registry in order to record the transfer of the car and record the title under the name of the new owner.
Prior to the purchase of a car, it is important to verify that the title is duly recorded in the public registry and clean of ay liens, annotation or infractions. Also, it is important to check that the car is current on the payment of the annual license that goverment charge (in spanish is called "marchamo") and also in the annual technical revision of the car that is madatory in Costa Rica.