Why register my car?

I bought my car second-hand from someone else and intend to drive it into ground rather than sell it and trade up. This might take a long time since I don't drive it much and baby it, and it's in solid shape.

I've never bothered to register it in my own name and wonder if I should go through the bother given the time and expense, so I'm wondering how I would benefit by register it.

I'm told I won't be able able to drive it into Costa Rica, Honduras or El Salvador unless I register it. Is this actually true?

Are there any other benefits to registering the car?

Also, is it possible to register my car with my foreign passport instead of a cedula? I stay in Nicaragua on a tourist visa and it may take a couple of more years before I qualify to apply for my residencia.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.


Hello Mike, I would like to explain, if the car is in the name of another person you can cross the border without problems, with a Power of Attorney from the owner.

In my opinion you must transfer into your name for these reasons:

1. The vehicle is still in the name of the seller, so as owner he/she will be able to do somethings, re sell it, for example. Let´s say he/she is not going to do it, what happen if he/she die tomorrow?

2. Somebody can sue to the owner/seller; and this is part of his assets.

3. To cross the border will be easer for you.

4. If you have an accident the owner must reply for civil damage, so somebody can sue the seller, instead you, that is way is you obligation transfer into your name.

5. If tomorrow you need or want to sell "your vehicle" which is in the name of the previous owner, will be a problem, is not impossible but it will better if is in your name.-

As Fly said, you don´t need a Residency Card to transfer into your name, the gist is to have a Nicaraguan Address to show.

Best Regards

Paul Tiffer Attorney at Law ptiffer@cablenet.com.ni

Registering a car

Hello Paul,

I presently live in Costa Rica and my intention is to buy a car in Nicaragua as the vehicle that I want to be purchased isn't available in Costa Rica. Its the toyota land cruiser HZJ 78.

The idea was once it was registered in my name then I would drive through Central America and then cross to South America to eventually get to Argentina.

I was in Rivas the day before yesterday and did a litte research into finding out about registering a car in my name.. I happened to find a attorney and we went to the police transito and they confirmed that it was impossible for a foreigner to buy a vehicle in Nicaragua..

I was quite surprised as this is not the case here in CR as I own a vehicle and had no problem registering it.

I thought I would take it a little further a find out through the internet..

I currently have a Spanish passport

Any info would very much appreciated




Thanks Paul, very helpful.

My pleasure

I am glad to share with you who are in Nicaragua or want to move to Nicaragua this kind of information, it is not easy to live in another country with diferents rules, law and regulations.

Best Regards,


Paul, as you know, this is not that different.

Try driving in the USA or Canada with an unregistered car.

Last time I forgot to get a new sticker in Canada the Cop wanted to tow my car to the pound. The fines and fees to get it back was going to be $400. We settled by the side of the road for a no brake lights ticket...about a $100 fine. I wasn't complaining, it was my fault, I got the reminder in the mail, I just forgot about it.


I am always scare when i drive in USA, I usually do it once per year a in Florida, the worst part is when I travel from Jacksonville to Miami!

Great answer.

Glad someone came up with some good legal reasons why as opposed to speculative and anecdotal reasons not to.

I understand

your lack of concern about registration, just don't get in an accident, at fault or not and don't get stopped by any authority figure. It is a good excuse to take your car and hassle you as much as they want and/or fine you as much as they want. Make sure you can prove it is not stolen also. Without current paperwork, you cannot cross borders. I would also worry about insurance and being sued by any other party if you are in an accident. Be very careful, if you only drive on back roads you should be okay but on the highway or in town you could have real problems if you come to the wrong persons attention.

Not being able to take it

Not being able to take it out of the country is a fact. It order to prevent cross-border vehicle theft, if it is not yours, you cannot cross the border. Just makes sense.

You don't need a cédula to register a car. I did it a few times. Much like a house, you are establishing ownership and for that you don't need to be anything more than a person. I forget the details I went though but clearly with my Gringo documents (and maybe with my Nicaraguan driver's license) it was a no-brainer.

Renewing the insurance may be/may become a problem. You need to present the cédula of the owner. The one time I did this with a car where the title had not yet been transferred, a copy of the compra-venta document that showed that we (it was an S.A., not me as an individual) had bought it was sufficient.

To Confirm what Fyl said

1. You do not need a cedula to register your car, unless of course your are trying to do it Jinotepe, the police here make up their own rules, I had my lawyer go and talk to the Cheif but it was useless when they make their mind up and interpret the laws they way they want, there is no going back! Granada is easier always, had it done there, after being refused in Jinotepe.

2. You cannot cross the border unless you have it registered in your name, because you need a exist permit for the car obtained from the Police, who won't give a registration unless you have a cedula anyways.

3. You can get insurance in the original owner;s name, even if you do not have their cedula number.... But in any case you probably have it on the escritura you have. As fyl said it should not be an issue and if it were I can help you get it from Inser, directly across the street from where you park it.

You are better off getting an insurance in your name (full insurance is better) to avoid any of the hassles and extortion you will surely face if you are in an accident and as a foreigner.

Thanks Phil ...

... for an informative and helpful post. I will say that I have already renewed the insurance without a problem.

on the cedula..

of the owner..i didnt need it..just showed them the papers..if ure not taking it out of the country dont worry about it..i have had my truck for a couple of yrs. and no problems

My experience

I am always being stopped at roadblocks on the Panam, and with the holidays coming up there will be more. The first thing they do is look at your papers and they take notes (probably to prove to higher-ups that they are doing something).

I wasa unable to register a new car without a cedula, but in the same time period here in Esteli another american was able to register a used car, in your case it seems you would have not problem.

Also, I don`t know if you have insurance on someboy else`s car.

"You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality." Ayn Rand