RHD vehicles

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#1 Wed, 04/09/2014 - 07:38

RHD vehicles

Infomation mainly to anyone driving a RHD vehicle through central america.

We are in the middle of our drive from Alaska to South America and Costa rica has put a stop to it, with a rule that you cannot drive a RHD on the roads in Costa Rica! It was indicated that maybe for $200 you could get the insurance, but then you would have to pay further additional fee's to the police. Once in Costa Rica any police checks would entail further payments. No doubt the police would notifiy colleagues at a check point down the road to our situation and be ready to collect!

El Savador, Bolivia and Chile have similar rules.

We are now looking to ship in a container from a more northerly Central American country. Has anyone shipped from a Central American country to South America?


Wed, 04/09/2014 - 08:53

Yes driving a RHD vehicle to

Yes driving a RHD vehicle to be a problem. Chile for example does not allow RHD .

Nor sure about temporary admission but .........

Sat, 04/12/2014 - 19:19


You must have got a REALLY bad customs guy !!!    Have a look in this blog, all done in a RHD Australian registered car !!  http://www.guidebooks.com.au/South%20America%20Overland/proposedroute.htm    Including Costa Rica, Bolivia, Chile etc.   Seen the car first hand, and it has no steering wheel on the LH side !!!

And another couple I know are down there now, and got through no problems.

El Salvador is the only problem one I know of, and that isn't really a deal-breaker because fortunately it is the one country you can drive around if you have to, by going through Honduras.

And I will be down there soon - My RHD Troopy arrives in Seattle on Tuesday, and after Alaska will be heading south myself.  I do not anticipate any major hassles as several people have done it recently. 

And if I am wrong, then I will eat my hat in due couse !!



Thu, 04/17/2014 - 11:40

I totally agree with you

I totally agree with you Giles, but I can think of stronger words than that!

We had had our passports stamped and then we needed to get the car through with the aduana. She was ok with the paperwork and asked us to go and get insurance(mandatory) and it was them that raised the issue with the RHD and would not issue any insurance. Whilst walking back to the car to let my wife know about the situation a 'fixer' came to me and said he may be able to get some insurance with a phone call, but would cost $200! I told him that was too much money....  and continued to my wife and told her the news. I then went back to the aduana and I saw the same guy talking to the young woman behind the glass, as I approached, he saw me and quickly disappeared, the woman said that Costa Rica dont allow RHD's and we cannot let your vehicle in. So obviously they are trying a scam with RHD, but maybe not all the time.  It is no particular hardship for us, as we have all the time in the world and our original plan was to go back to America and on to eastern Canada for the summer! Maybe Costa Rica have a rule that RHD cannot be registered on a permanent basis, though allow tourist to pass through with RHD but the rules are not made clear and this always leaves confusion and is open to bribes as a lot of officials with a little power try it on. I have never paid a bribe over 40 years of traveling and I haven't start yet, though I was sorely tempted.

Now in Guatemala, enjoying a beautiful peaceful campsite on the shore of Atitlan for the Easter weekend.


Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:48

Stephen, What country is your

Stephen, What country is your car registered in ?

Picked up my car from Tacoma docks last friday, all in one piece, and am now sitting in the San Juan islands waiting for wife to arrive in 10 days, then we set off up through Vancouver Island, then the ferries thrugh the Inside Passage as far as Haines, and will drive from there because the run from Haines to Haines Junction was one (just one of many !) of my favourite drives from my last trip 2 years ago in the Lotus.  Can't wait to get going !!!


Wed, 04/23/2014 - 19:08 (Reply to #5)

It is UK registerd.

It is UK registerd.


We have heard quite a few others, who have past through without a hitch!



Tue, 04/29/2014 - 09:14

Big problem is there is the

Big problem is there is the law that was intended, the law that was written and the most problematic of all, the law as interpreted (by the person with absolute power - the border officer)


See the HUBB South America forum for recent reports of people getting stopped at a southern border of Chile (Paso Roballo I think) because they had RHD. They had a letter under the glass on the desk that said no-go, and the officer checked with Chile Chico office and it was still no-go. Traveller got their embassy to check and it was still the same - no-go.


We crossed several times into Chile and had no problems, as did the previous owner of the RHD vehicle, but that doesn't mean nobody will have problems.




Wed, 04/30/2014 - 09:12

 In February 2014 I shipped a

 In February 2014 I shipped a rhd Land Rover Defender from the UK to Limon in a container to find that there is a 2012 Costa Rica Law that prohibits the importation  of right hand vehivles into the country even for a few hours we had 2 lawyers involved who said a proper legal appeal would take at least 3 months . In the mean time I would  have to pay for bonded warehouse storage.Apparently the 2012 law became enforceable from the middle of 2013 . Total cost of shipping  and storage including agents fees $7000 , I  have friends who drove who drove in a RHD  land rover from Panama  to  Nicaragua via CR  in 2012 without problem and would be very intersted to hear about any recent drives through CR in RHD


Fri, 05/23/2014 - 21:26

I have a friend on the road now enroute to CR, oh my!

Well this is all news to me. I live in Belize and we have overlanders passing thru often some with RHD. No one has mentioned any problems at all driving these vehicles through CR. I have friends now that will be there in a few weeks. I will shoot them an email  and follow up on what happens. You can check out there blog at (wander with me) wanderwith.me.


Fri, 05/23/2014 - 22:01

UK to Limon ....$7,000 agent fees? Ouch

I'm curious Chris why did't you just have the vehicle shipped dwon to Panama or up to Mexico for a few more dollars than pay all the fees?


Tue, 05/27/2014 - 01:37

We drove through CR fine!

Hi guys


We arrived in CR on new years day 2014. 


We got through customs and bought insurance fine on our RHD Land Rover. 

Is this just the authorities trying to scam you? 

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 11:23

Me too, me too


Well, Guess what ?  After all my comments I went through the CR border about 3 weeks ago in my RHD car, and they wouldn;t let me through either.  Claimed it was "too dangerous to drive a RHD car in CR because I "couldn't see"".  But my story had a twist to it.  We came through on a sunday, and at about 10 am we had already been stamped out of Nicaragua and into CR, so all we needed was the insurance.  The guy at the desk was very nice and just said that the person who could approve this did not work on a Sunday so we would have to wait till 6 am the next morning.  Since we could not move the car, and could not go forwards or back (to a hotel) without our car, we just unpacked the car in the car park, set up our camping extension, and sat on our chairs and watched the day pass ! Met some lovely travellers from all over the world who saw our car and the stickers, and came over to say G'Day.   After a few visits from officials reassuring us that by 6 am Monday it would all be sorted, we finally got a visit from some big chief who gave us the "too dangerous" crap.  By 8 pm the car park was empty except for us, and we were cooking our supper and preparing for a night in no man's land between the countries - We figured it was pretty safe since we had barbed wire and police all around us !  Suddenly the boss came back and told us we had to leave IMMEDIATELY, could not stay there, and he would give us 2 days to get through CR to Panama.  "What do we do with our supper boiling on the stove. Sir ?" we asked !!  Anyway, 30 minutes later, with the spagehetti saucepan wrapped in a towel for later, we drove out in the dark (which is way more dangerous than RHD !) and stopped at the first gas station we came to up the road.    I asked the young guy who stamped my insurance form what would happen if it rook us 3 or even 4 days (because I was an old man and drove slowly) and he said "Maybe one week OK", and promptly stamped everythig as valid for 30 days in CR.   What a joke !!  Anyway, we went through in 3 days, and haven't had a problem since. 

There are 8 old RHD MG's from Australia on their way north at the end of the year, so I have told them to get a written invite from a CR car club as this apparently is the way around it. 

Never a dull moment - But wouldn't be missing it for the world.




Thu, 10/30/2014 - 10:31

RHD vehicles

Gosh, MR GETCHART needs a tune-up.  To answer your original question:


There is absolutely NO problem with RHD vehicles throughout the PANAM, with the sole exception of El Salvador.  AND it only takes an email and a phone call  to get a special permission and you can visit there too!

You might try using the search function on the forum.

I know because I travelled 2 years on the PanAm (Sept 2011 - Apr 2013) with a RHD vehicle.  Travelled with many other RHD vehicles.  NO additional fees for insurance, NO hassles at the borders.  The fact is that a RHD vehicle is just an excuse for the customs guys to take an advantage - IF YOU LET THEM.  Best thing for RHD is no one wants to steal it...

check out bipbipamericas.blogspot.com






Thu, 10/30/2014 - 10:34

Don't confuse a temporary entry with 'importation'

If you are not going to keep the RHD vehicle in the country - ie put country plates on it, there is no problem with RHD vehicles, as noted above.

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 09:27

RHD vehicles Costa Rica

I can confirm we absolutely DID have a Problem in February 2014 with temporarily I repeat temporarily importing a right hand land rover defender into Costa Rica . We explored all the options of avoiding the issue including trucking the car out of Costa Rica without success. Our lawyers explained to the Head of Customs in San Jose that we were happy to drive the car immediatly out of the country but we were told that the law is the law  and applied to both TEMPORARY and Permanent import . Our Customs agents and our 2 lawyers seperately confirmed that there was a new law in place passed in 2012 and became valid late 2013 . To BIBBIPAMERICAS  I would say just because YOU have not been hit by lightening it does not mean there is no lightening  particularly if you have not been out in the rain.

With hindsight  of the true legal situation it would have made sense to ship the car into another CA state. Would I try and drive through Costa Rica with a right hand drive vehicle now if I was at a road border? yes I would  but I would expect to dig deep in my pocket and have a good plan B if that did not work.

Fri, 09/04/2015 - 02:43

RHD in Central and South America

Any new experiences with the RHD issue? It seems to fade away. I have driven an Australian RHD car through Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia during the first half of 2015 and have never met any problem or comment, other than in old stories and hearsay. I am shipping the car to Panama now to drive through Central America to Mexico. Does anyone have recent information? Thanks. Rens

Sat, 02/11/2017 - 10:12 (Reply to #16)


So am just re reading a lot of this blog and saw your update from 2015...did you make it?

Sun, 09/20/2015 - 08:02

The only answer that will be

The only answer that will be close to correct is that you won't know for sure until you reach the border. 

Any claims that you will definitely never ever have a problems are obviously rendered false if even ONE traveller does have problems regardless of whether 100 others report no problems.

Sat, 02/11/2017 - 12:53

The suggestion to contact CR

The suggestion to contact CR auto club to get an invite would be the best way to go, then you know you have a good chance to get in. We just turned back and spent another 3months heading to Veracruz in Mexico, were we shipped to Cartagena, Columbia.

As for CR, it was their loss. I now know wy locals in these countries like to over-take on blind bends, they are driving LHD cars and can see.

I wonder how many tempory imports travelling through CR have had accidents due to it being RHD.


Sat, 02/11/2017 - 14:30 (Reply to #19)


Yeah i may have to do a search on CR Clubs. Anyone know the Toyota Troopcarrier one? Unfortunately when I was in CR a year ago (lovely place btw) the only people that had a troopie were the police!

Tue, 02/14/2017 - 18:03

A post yesterday on a FB

A post yesterday on a FB group for central and south America by Martin McGowan who has been right in the middle of government to government negotiations to resolve this roadblock confirmed that there has been no resolution of the impass and none is expected any time real soon.  He also said anyone managing to bluff their way through and then bluff aquisition of insurance would almost certainly find the insurance is not honoured. Even the work around of trucking the vehicle through has not advanced either.

Martin said in part "Yesterday we received a note from the British Embassy in Costa Rica - The Status still remains the same, technically RHD are not legal to drive in Costa Rica, customs as far as we are aware are still not letting RHD vehicles into the country."


Another example of advice based on experiences had more than 12 months ago - or even yesterday in some cases - being hardly worth listening to.

Sat, 03/25/2017 - 19:40

While Tony is absolutely

While Tony is absolutely correct that information from Yesterday (let alone last year) is worthless, looking back there are two things that may be worth considering for people heading through CR in a RHD.

1) I know of 2 groups of several Australian RHD cars that all came through the border together, and had absolutely no problems.  I found this interesting ! (Maybe they had contacted a CR Car Club ?)

2) When I came through and had issues, I got there early on a Sunday morning when the border was almost deserted and had parked my vehicle right outside the office for insurance, so I really stuck the RHD bit "in their face".   I later noticed that when it got busier, everyone else pulled on through to the gravel car parking area, and then walked back to the office to do the paperwork. 

So if you want to increase your chances (not guarantee !) of getting through in a RHD, go through in a group, and park away from the offices and walk !!  Again as Tony said, down here, the only thing certain is the uncertainty !!  But then that is half the fun of it.