Marbete Time in Puerto Rico

Posted by Cassie

When we bought our truck back in October we didn’t have a mailing address. That complicated things a little when we went to Aguadilla to register the car and change over the title. And while we now have a mailing address we never got around to updating it in the system, so we never received the paperwork to get our marbete (pronounced Mar-Bet-Tay) sticker.

Marbete is registration and compulsory insurance (government liability). It is required on all vehicles. We have heard that the police check more heavily for marbete than they do for drunk driving and definitely more than they do for running red lights, bad U-turns, driving in non-existent lanes, etc, so we knew this was not something to procrastinate too much on.

We stopped into one of the inspection shops near the agro we frequent in Rincón  around late May early June because our sticker said it was good until July and we didn’t know if that meant the whole month of July or just until July 1.

An inspection place in Rincón

The place was empty except for one helpful man who said (in Spanish) to me that we shouldn’t worry about the marbete until July because it would last through the month. He said we could come back in July before it was due and they could do the inspection that is required to get the sticker and then we could go to their offices in Aguadilla. He also gave us some helpful advice: go during the middle of the week, in the middle of the month, in the middle of the day. We stored that info away and waited.

Well, yesterday was the day. It was the perfect time to go according to the man from the inspection office in Rincón. We drove in to a different inspection office in Aguada (they are all over the island) and were helped right away. They just ask you to turn on the vehicle, they place an emissions probe into the tail pipe, charge you (we paid $11) and print out a certificate with emissions numbers. Beforehand we had to give them our paperwork from when we registered the car even though it wasn’t the current one so that they could put our info on the certificate.

Next we headed to the Obras Públicas (Public Works) area of Aguadilla where CESCO (Centro de Servicios Al Conductor or in English, the Driver Services Center) and the Colecturía (Collection area) are. This is also where you can get your driver’s license. We knew where to go because this is where the seller of our truck took us when we first registered it.

Marbete sticker
The all-important marbete!

We waited in a short line (about 15 minutes) to get the registration paper in CESCO and to update/change our address so that in future years it will come to us in the mail (we brought a water bill to prove our new address, but I am not sure it was necessary this time). Then we took that paperwork to the other office (the Colecturia) that is about 100 paces away.  There was virtually no line at all there and we paid the $169 with a card. 20 minutes after parking at Obras Públicas we were out with our marbete in hand and updated info. We had heard horror stories so we weren’t sure how it would go. Overall, I would say I have had longer waits with lousier service in the Colorado DMV than we did yesterday. I would even say that everyone was quite friendly and helpful to us! Perhaps it was all in timing, but we were pleasantly surprised.


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11 thoughts on “Marbete Time in Puerto Rico

  1. Linda

    Watch what will happen.. they will get confused to have 2 names for 2 marbetes going to the same PO box ;-) .. well hopefully not. any more official mail for me? Haven’t heard from auto espresso again !

  2. Britton

    Hi Linda!

    You never know what kind of hiccups or issues will come up but usually they are the ones you never thought of, so since you have thought of that being a problem it will most likely be something

    We checked the box just yesterday and there was no new mail for you guys. That appears to be a good thing! ;) Thanks again for letting us share the box.

  3. Linda

    no problem ! happy to have you guys share with us. You can keep a lookout for any bad (or GOOD) news!
    Wish I could say.. see you soon. But november (or maybe october) is probably when you will see us again

  4. Naomi

    This is the first I’ve heard of anyone actually having their vehicle inspected! I’ve never even had the inspection place step outside to look at my vehicle. Last time we didn’t even take my car– we went in Sage’s and had both “inspections” done by paying $15 each, then being handed the paper.

    FYI for the future, if you get your paperwork in the mail, you can go to that first place you have pictured (by Sandwich Delight) to pay for everything and receive your marbete. If you don’t get your paperwork in the mail (sometimes they don’t send it, for whatever reason), for $15 they’ll go to Aguadilla and file it all for you. Totally worth it to us, as we’re short on time.

  5. Anonymous

    Cassafrass….Happy Birthday!! Wanted to be the first to wish you a Happy B-day. Love from your Mom…..miss you bunches!

    h appy B Day

  6. Katrina

    It is 15 or 16 if the stick it in a car they have permanently set up that they know will pass “it’s better for you” and $11 if they really do it!

  7. Josh

    I have a truck in San Juan and last year I printed out a copy of my registration online and went to Banco Popular and paid $184.00. This year, the website requires a license, which I don’t have and the address listed on the site shows some sort of mile marker and doesn’t work with any sort of online map. It’s frustrating to be here on my own and not be able to be independent. If I could pay someone else to do this, I would.

    The inspection center I went to here about an hour ago literally just took down my latest registration information and printed out a certification that my truck passed the inspection without even seeing the vehicle. If the state would just have some sort of online payment system, I’d rather do that than have the headache of getting lost trying to find the DTOP station and dealing with any sort of lines or miscommunication as it seems that inspections are basically worthless.

    Have you ever dealt with being in an accident here? I have. The owner of the truck didn’t have insurance and my marbete didn’t cover anything, however, since he hit me and I hit the car in front of me I am being sued by the person I hit, because the person behind me is unemployed and has no way to pay for damages. Pretty fucking awesome island to live on. I’m sure I won’t be responsible for paying for any damages, but the time I’ll have to spend in a court room and/or money that may be required to get a lawyer/translator is going to be pretty damn frustrating.

  8. Jeff

    Wow Josh I am sorry to hear you were hit. Your story is exactly why I try and tell people that the Marbete is not enough for most people. It’s enough only if your rich or destitute.

    You can’t blame the person you hit for suing you even though it’s really not your fault. I am concerned about your last sentence. Don’t be so sure you won’t be held responsible. BTW, this happens everywhere and not just in PR. However, you may not be held responsible and the poor guy you hit will be screwed.

    What is a PR issue is that almost everyone thinks the Marbete will cover them and so few have private insurance. Most new cars on the road cost $30 to $40K and more. If you hit one of those your on the hook for all but the $4K the Marbete covers.

  9. Reinaldo

    Josh if you don’t don’t to communicate because a barrier of language don’t expect everybody to feel sorry for you .You decide to move to Puerto Rico have to deal with that if you expect something different you always have the freedom to move where you come from or somewhere else , nobody is holding you


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