Driving Central America & South America.

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Selling your car and leaving it there

Tcat Left 2
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Tcat Right 2
Tarjei's picture
Joined: Sep 15 2008

We plan to drive from Halifax, Nova Scotia to South America. What I want to know is if there is any country where I could sell our car. It's a 2003 Volvo XC70. I heard Paraguay might be a possibility. Any leads appreciated.

admin's picture
Joined: Feb 11 2009

We hear that Venezuela is a

We hear that Venezuela is a good choice due to cheap gas.

patti's picture
Joined: Jan 7 2010

Selling or leaving your car

I heard many conflicting reports about this so I called each respective South American country's consulate and got some more solid information. In each country, excluding Venezuela, Chile, and Brazil, there is an incredibly large tax that purchasers have to pay when buying a foreign (registered outside of that nation) vehicle. The tax varies from country to country - anywhere from 22% - 75% of the selling price. Also, several of the countries will seize the vehicle as soon as the travel permit expires regardless of the fact that ownership may have been transferred. Due to these reasons, it can be extremely difficult to sell your car. The easiest thing to do, so I have been told, is to give the car away or sell it for a very low price. Either way, it is best to contact an attorney wherever you choose to sell the car. They will be able to facilitate the transaction and ensure that you are protected in the sale/transfer of ownership. Essentially, you will need an affidavit of support along with your title, import permit, and vehicle registration in order to make it happen. Good luck!

If you could tell me which country you are interested in leaving the vehicle, I can send you more information. It is just far too much to post for each country.

Sonja's picture
Joined: Feb 4 2010

driving around


I plan on driving down to Costa Rica and staying there for 3 months then driving to Belize and living there for 3 months then thought I might try another country or return to CR if I wanted more of it..

Do you know if I will be able to keep my car and travel around with it. If I want to come back to Texas I will but I think I will bounce around Central America for a year or so.

Thanks for any info or where I should start researching.

Southbound Hound's picture
Southbound Hound (not verified)

Re: Driving around.

I just returned to the States after nine and a half months on the road between Oregon and Panama.

After doing the trip in a 1986 4Runner with a 55lb pit-bull as my travel companion, I have to ask, why do you want to just drive around. Seriously, unless you have a good reason for needing a car, such as you're traveling with a dog, you'd be better of flying down to C..R. and busing it from there to the rest of Central America. Granted having your own vehicle does allow you to go many places that would otherwise be difficult to reach by bus, it can also be a nerve racking experience. Staying alive on the roads can be a real challenge. I gave up trying to count how many close-calls I would have in a single day. Then there's the border crossings. Plus I can tell you from experience that even though in 2007 Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua formed an agreement that lets people travel between all four countries, having to pay only in the first of the four countries you enter (just like driving across a State-Line), you will have to pony up some cash to get you and your car through (Honduras being the worst and most expensive depending on where you cross into that country). If you feel that you really need to have your car, then you've got a lot of work cut out for you, not to mention that it can get expensive when you figure the cost of gas, border crossings and insurance. Also, be prepared to abandon your vehicle along the way because there's the possibility that you'll have to do it.

Also, you should go to Belize first, then down to Costa Rica. And if you think you'll be able to sell your car down there without any problems, think again. It can be a nightmare trying to get a vehicle sold before your permit expires. I sold my truck in Panama and it took just over a month to get it done, and that's after I found a buyer.

As far as my reasons for doing the trip. It was to learn first hand what it was like so I could write a book about the experience. And after reading "Driving the Pan-American Highway" and "99 Days to Panama", then experiencing it first hand, I can say that neither of those books really go into enough detail about the trip. And, they also don't tell you much of what you REALLY need to know in order to make the trip successfully and cost effectively. Granted I did it and made it down to Panama, sold my truck, and flew me and my dog back to the States, it was with a great deal of luck, quick thinking, and the help of some wonderful people I met along the way.

Don't let this discourage you from doing it. It was one hell of an adventure that's for sure. Just take your time, plan, then be prepared to improvise and adapt like your life depends on it, because it does.

J. Sarmento