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registering your car in Puerto Rico

Registering Your Car In Puerto Rico – Year Two

Registering Your Car In Puerto Rico – It’s not what you know, it’s who… OR IS IT?

Can you believe it has been over a year since we’ve moved to Puerto Rico? We sure can’t!

The time has just flown by. It seems that we just blinked and time fast-forwarded one year.

So, here we are a year later and, of course, this means that we need take care of some of the yearly tasks that we don’t love so much. This includes taking care of car registration, aka marbete.

So, you probably understand that we were dreading doing it again.

The complainer that I am, wink, I started to tell my local friends about how much I really dreaded going through it again. And, lo and behold a new way was revealed!

In a casual conversation, a friend mentioned that he registered his vehicle at a local gas station and bypassed the entire government process all together.

Errr…. what?! Could you repeat that please?

I didn’t hear him wrong, he repeated his story and told me which gas station he did it in. So, I went on a mission to discover this new and mysterious way to save time.  After several more conversations with numerous friends, I “discovered” that in Puerto Rico, there are multiple places that are authorized by DTOP to issue car registrations (sometimes for a small fee “$5-$15). They include gas stations and even banks!

The gas stations are more convenient because they usually also do the car inspection at the same time, so it’s a one-stop-shop experience. No running to DTOP, no going to get stamps at the Colecturia, and no separate inspection! WOW it was like the sky opened and I saw the light!

There is a catch though: you have to have your renewal paperwork for them to do this.

This paperwork is supposed to be mailed to you via postal service – usually. Unfortunately, we (as many others) hadn’t received said papers. This presented a major problem for us because it meant that we still have to go to DTOP to get the papers reprinted.

OK, but at least that’s one trip, not several. So, Tim set out to get copies of our registration renewal at DTOP in Fajardo on one sunny afternoon. This turned out to be a bad idea, the line of people waiting was all the way out of the building! He said, “screw it, I’ll come back in a week and early in the morning.”

marbete, register your car in puerto rico

His second trip, this time around 8:00AM, was a much better experience. It turns out that DTOP has been trying to streamline and improve some of their processes and made the process a lot easier. He only waited for 20 minutes and walked out with car registration renewal papers in hand.

When he got back, we celebrated because this was, by far, the shortest visit to DTOP we’ve taken thus far. Feeling lucky, we headed over the gas station that everyone told us about to get our marbete.

Score again, there were two cars ahead of us and that was the only reason we had to wait for 15 minutes, otherwise, the inspection and payment took 5 minutes and we were on our way with a brand new car registration sticker and paperwork!

So, the moral of the story is: it IS what you know but also who you know.

Had we not made friends here and had I not openly complained about the process, we’d never known about this shortcut. Now we do and our experience this year for renewing our car registration and insurance was a breeze comparing to previous year.

I highly recommend that you do a similar thing when your car is up for renewal.

And, here is a bonus: if your car is less than 2 years old (you do not need an inspection), you can actually renew your marbete online. No, I’m not kidding. Just go to DTOP’s services website and register. Keep in mind, everything is in Spanish.

Happy car registering!




About Joanna

is a Polish American living in Arizona with her husband Tim. She is a founding partner of JTR Tech and she is proud to be a professional geek. She had dreamt of living abroad for many years. So, she and Tim created AbroadDreams.com to document the process of making their dream of moving abroad come true. They spent 2 years in Puerto Rico and several months in Spain and Poland. Now they are exploring the American Southwest.

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  1. Hey Joanna,

    I’m actually thinking of moving to Puerto Rico sometime this year. It’s just me, no kids or anything yet… I had a few questions for you if that’s alright.

    1., how did you figure out your budget?

    2. Where was the best place to look for jobs?

    3. Would you say around San Juan is a good area?

    Any advice you have would be amazing!

    Thank you!!

  2. That is fantastic! Thank you, for sharing this easier process.