How to bring your car to Colombia

Hello everybody,

If you exported your car to Colombia, were there any formalities that needed to be completed beforehand? What were they?

What is the best way to export your car? Is there a limit on the number of vehicles, or perhaps the age of the vehicle? Are there limits on emissions or emission controls in Colombia?

What are the expected costs of exporting a car? In your opinion, is it worth it?

Once you arrived in Colombia, what were the applicable taxes? What was the customs process like?

How do you go about registering an imported car in Colombia?

Is it best to buy a car once you have arrived or to bring your car with you, in your opinion?

We look forward to hearing from you!

Bhavna

you can only import a brand new vehicle and its not worth the trouble, sell all your vehicles and buy more when you arrive.

You cannot import a vehicle into Colombia, period.  Only employees of their embassy may import their car.  So, if you're not an employee of your embassy, you cannot import a car.  There is one exception and that is to import a true classic car and that process is incredibly complicated and expensive.

Frankly, if I had it to do over again, I would sell everything that doesn't fit into six boxes and six suit cases and buy what you need here.  I've been here over 10 years and I cannot think of anything that I need and cannot buy here.

-at the risk of nitpicking.

it is possible for you and me to import a brand new car and not work with the embassy.
The work involved to reach that goal is not worth it, -Unless you want to start a business.
Getting the import licenses and the paperwork with RUNT involved to insure your vehicle passes through in a timely manner are all a major undertaking.

Used cars are 100% not allowed and that is how the values stay so high on used cars.

Hi,

Seems the topic is more about importing cars but what about motorcycles? Does the same rule apply as to importing only new motorcycles versus used?

Thanks!

First, let's get our terminology straight.

Importing a car permanently into Colombia is ordinarily not legal.

Bringing a car into Colombia temporarily is ordinarily legal for the period of your 90-day tourist stamp .. with extensions totaling an additional nine months possible.  After the tourist permit(s) and the car permit(s) expire, the government may confiscate the vehicle if you haven't removed it from Colombia.

--------

I brought my 2016 Chevy Sail, a used vehicle with Ecuador plates, into Colombia last December (2016) .. and it has been with me in Colombia since.  Probably the car will continue to be with me here until December 1st (2017), when my final permit expires.

Having the car in Colombia required three vehicle permits along the way from La DIAN, the Colombian aduanas agency.

Of course, the catch is that I may not permanently keep the car in Colombia, so it's not a true import.  I was thinking of selling it in Colombia .. until I discovered it's possibly worth twice as much if I sell it in Ecuador.

So I am figuring to drive it back around late Ocotber to Quito.

If I miss the December deadline, theoretically the COL authorities could impound the vehicle and charge me a fee to re-obtain possession.  That's a scenario I will make a concerted effort to avoid.

cccmedia in  Armenia, Quindío, Colombia

The third DIAN permit to keep the car in Colombia this year required me to have a Colombia TP visa, by the way, since I was going to exceed 180 days of total car time here.

Another aspect is that someone who wants to live in Colombia for 180 days a year (the maximum without having to file a COL tax return) could theoretically keep their car part time in Ecuador and part time in Colombia.  However, the DIAN car permit theoretically expires at any point when you re-cross the border back into Ecuador.

Getting the DIAN permit extended was easy so long as I brought in the car for inspection and kept my documents in the glove compartment for ready access.  There was no fee charged for the extension privilege.

cccmedia in Quindío

CC, could you conceivable do that with any foreign plated car? 6 months in Col and 6 months in Ecuador or part time even in Peru?

dumluk :

CC, could you conceivably do that with any foreign plated car? 6 months in Col and 6 months in Ecuador...?

Dear Dumluk,

I have come across no reason that would rule out the scenario you propose, provided you enter Colombia from Ecuador with a non-Colombia plate.  On several occasions, DIAN did a cursory "inspection" of my vehicle, mainly to photograph the VIN plate located under the hood.

Keep in mind that six months is technically longer than 180 days.  180 days is the maximum time allowable in Colombia with a foreign-plated car, presuming only one vehicle-permit extension by DIAN and an extension of your tourist permit.

Would you be permitted to do this in multiple consecutive years?  I would ask this of DIAN the first time you enter Colombia with your car.  If someone at DIAN decided you were "gaming the system" year after year, I have no idea if that would tick them off.

cccmedia

As for a Colombia/Peru scenario...

1.  I have no experience with Peru's rules on a tourist bringing in a car .. and enforcement of such rules.

2.  Depending on what cities in Colombia and Peru you would be choosing, the mileage could be prohibitive.  For instance, the driving time between Medellín, Colombia, and Lima, Peru, is given as 50 hours via the Panamericana highway.  The actual on-road driving time is probably longer than that due to weather, slow going behind large trucks in some stretches and unexpected delays.  If you chose one of the shortest routes between the two countries -- such as Ipiales, Colombia, to Tumbes, Peru -- the driving time is much shorter:  about 14 hours.  Source for driving times in this post:  Google maps.

cccmedia

So whats the hurry? The pleasure is in the journey, not necessarily the destination.......for the moment, just scanning the possibilities around onerous governmental regs.........

dumluk :

So whats the hurry? The pleasure is in the journey, not necessarily the destination.

Based on my experience, anyone who thinks that driving for days on the Panamericana highway is a pleasure .. has not driven long distances on that road.

I especially disliked the part where weather and road conditions once forced me to drive 12 miles an hour after dark until delincuentes on a motorcycle decided to enter the picture near Popayán, Colombia....

www.expat.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=634337

cccmedia

First rule of thumb in most of latin america if not all is, DONT drive at nite..........plan ahead and figure out where you will be staying for the nite.........local yes, inevitable, but long distance driving? Just dont do it.........

I would like to ship my 2006 Toyota tundra into Colombia this year strictly for birding. Strictly as a tourist.
Is it possible to ship it in and stay until my tourist visa expires, then drive on to another country?
I have heard so many different stories I am confused.
Thanks

Dear Gary,

1.  You gave your location as Chiang Mai province, Thailand.

Is that where you would be shipping the 2006 car from?  Have you determined that shipping the car one-way from your starting point would be less expensive than leasing a vintage car in Colombia?

2.  Initial thoughts on driving the car across an international border from Colombia into a neighboring country....

a.  Ecuador -- best bet. 

b.  Venezuela -- the most besieged country in the hemisphere.  Forget it.

c.  Brazil -- unless you speak fluent Portuguese, don't overcomplicate things by going there.

d.  Peru -- makes more sense to go through Ecuador than Peru, depending on your circumstances and desires.

e.  Panama -- Although Colombia and Panama share an international border, the existence of the virtually impassable and dangerous Darien Gap rules out road travel from Colombia to almost all of Panama.

If you post again, please tell us where you would ship the vehicle from .. and to what coastal city in Colombia you would ship to.

cccmedia near the Colombia-Ecuador border, in Ipiales, Nariño, Colombia

You also may need to consider your likely final destination.  Perhaps you already have.

If you don't choose a final destination and remain in South America, you may be forced to drive the car from country to country every 90 days, depending on  maximum-tourist-stay limits and how the maximum is enforced in a given country.

I had my Ecuador-plated 2016 car with me in Colombia for a year (December 2016 to December 2017).  Now, although I have continued staying in Colombia near the EC border since December 1, 2017, I have the car parked at a secure lot in nearby Tulcán, Ecuador, until March 8th.  On that date my one-year visa will expire and I can legally drive the car back into Colombia by obtaining a new tourist permit, presuming that la DIAN grants a routine 90-day car permit for the period of the tourist stamp.

cccmedia near the Colombia-Ecuador border

Thanks for the fast reply.
I am in Thailand now, but I have a home in San Antonio Texas. That is where my pickup is. Was thinking about shipping out of Houston to Santa Marta or Another city close by.

I was in Colombia a couple of months ago and decided that a car was a must there for birding. I looked into buying a car there but since I can get a tourist visa there for 90 days and extend another 90 days that would be enough for me to do my birding.

Then I would like to drive to Ecuador and bird there for 6 months.

My other option would be to drive to Panama, I have driven from my home in Texas to the Yucatan and stayed there for a few months birding. So Panama is not but a few thousand miles away. I think it would be doable for me.

What do you think?

Will I have any problem shipping my truck into Colombia on a tourist visa?

Thanks

I have lived on and off in Thailand for years. I am getting tired of it and want a change. Hence the questions.

Spent 3 months in the coffee region a couple of months ago and felt like if I had decent transportation it would make life so much easier for a longer stay.

I just read your comment above and it seems you are doing exactly what I want to do. So I assume it is doable.

Maybe we can get together and talk about the logistics?

garyknrd :

Will I have any problem shipping my truck into Colombia on a tourist visa?

Well, that's the key question.

I suspect it's doable.  Whether it can be done problem-free, I don't know.

Put the question to some or all of the following parties and see if you can get a consensus...

1.  Any shipping companies you contact about shipping fees

2.  ANT, Agencia Nacional de Tránsito, the DMV of Ecuador or SENAE, the customs agency of Ecuador

3.  An immigration attorney in Ecuador.  Mine is Sebastian Cordero in Quito. 
scordero(at)rcpabogados.com

  -- cccmedia

Gary:

Driving your truck from Ecuador into Colombia, as a tourist, is one thing and quite simple but, shipping your truck into Colombia is viewed as an attempt to import the vehicle, which is impossible.

Also, driving from Panama to Colombia is incredibly dangerous, not just the road itself but, guerrilla forces are thick in that part of Colombia (see this article: http://www.overlandtraveller.com/destin … n_gap.html).  If you're dead set on driving your own truck, ship or drive to Panama then take the ferry from Colon Panama to Cartagena Colombia.  Your truck and you may then enter together on a tourist visa (automatic for US citizens).

Gary:

Yes, you can ship your car from Houston with a tourist visa (or Miami, or possible New Orleans), or drive down to Panama and ship it from there.  There are many blogs about shipping from Panama to Colombia...not so many from the USA to Colombia.  You will need multiple copies of titles, and other paperwork...and you will have to buy insurance in Colombia for your length of stay.

You have a few shipping options: Roll On, Roll Off (RORO), Load on, Load off (LOLO).  LOLO has two options: Crate the car or load it on a platform. 

Crating is typically cheaper and can be split with someone else shipping their car (two cars can fit in one container), because in a crate, other crates can be put on top.  RORO or platform is more expensive because nothing can be put on top..takes more space.  These two options also open up the possibility of theft inside the car, since the car is out in the open...and you have to give them the keys to drive it on/off.

I've heard of people shipping from the USA to Argentina.  Most of these are doing the Pan-american hwy though, starting in the S, and driving N.

Cost from Panama to Colombia ranges from $1500 to $2500.  From Panama, persons have two options: Sailing charter or fly...so extra costs there too.

Do searches for pan-america blogs or border crossings to find out more.

My wife and I are planning on the same thing, starting in Alaska, driving S till we can't go S anymore and trying to sell the vehicle in S. America.  There are many Europeans who start in Argentina and buy a car/van there to travel the continent.  There are some headaches associated with transferring foreign titles and getting it back out of some countries though....

Our plans are dependent on the US economy and the Colombia presidential elections coming up...

I've tangled with enough Mexican cops in my San Diego-Tijuana days to know I wouldn't want to expose myself to thousands of miles of driving in Mexico.  Especially since parts of the country contain some of the worst 'element' in the hemisphere.

I certainly wouldn't do intercity driving in Mexico at night.

----

In your position, I'd leave the truck in Texas, fly into Pereira or Armenia, Colombia (changing planes in Bogotá) and have the driver associated with Adelita's finca (check booking.com for a reservation) between Salento and Armenia drive me around for a couple of days .. then take it from there.  I didn't have my car with me on an earlier Colombia trip and the driver was excellent in getting me wherever I wanted to go in the Coffee Zone for three days in his air-conditioned vintage car.

If your Spanish is strong enough or you're dealing with local English speakers, you can probably get good fast in finding drivers and negotiating rates.

This way you can avoid the whole Mexico thing, reduce exposure to bureaucracy and limit the surprises :o along the way.

After you cross into Ecuador:  rinse and repeat.

cccmedia, in Ipiales near the Colombia-Ecuador border (come say hello if you're in town)

Ok, thanks for the reply everyone.
I will make a decision in a few weeks.
I leave Thailand in two weeks and will back in Texas. There I will do the final planning.
Looking forward to it.

There is no longer any ferry between Colon Panama and Cartagena Colombia....The pirates who run these countries took care of that progressive move.....Go to Horizons Unlimited or PanAmerican Travelers on Facebook for  more information and potential partners to hook up and share a container with. It costs approx the same to ship a vehicle from Miami to Cartagena as from Panama to Cartagena. Such is the nature of things in this part of the world.......remember, a handful of bully families running everythiing.......

What a shame! I will be back home on the 12th and will start looking into things then.
Thanks

dumluk :

There is no longer any ferry between Colon Panama and Cartagena Colombia....The pirates who run these countries took care of that....

Definitely investigate, Gary.

Even if Dumluk is correct and ferry service between Colón and Cartagena has been suspended, there could still be service by ferry between a pair of cities in Panamá and Colombia.

I'd look into it further before throwing in the towel on the ferry idea.

cccmedia in Depto. de Nariño

There are no ferries between Panama and Colombia for cars.  I've check for quite a while now. There have been, possible still, musings about it happening, but it hasn't. 

Only option is to ship your car for the foreseeable future.

There 2as ferry service briefly not too.long ago. We who live in Panama were all celebrating the occasion. But it didnt last long enuff for me to even try it out...It eas German owned and operated. Que lastima pero la verdad....

cccmedia :

I had my Ecuador-plated 2016 car with me in Colombia for a year (December 2016 to December 2017).

Hi cccmedia, I saw this post, which is really relevant to my current position. I'm wondering, how did you manage to extend your vehicle permits over the course of a year, and based on what sort of visa(s) were they approved?

I'm currently looking at buying a car with Chilean plates in Colombia, with the intention of driving it through LATAM as of December 2018. What I'm curious about is whether it's possible to get a Temporary Import Permit for the time being (for 8 months), on a temporary resident visa?

I currently have a Colombian TP-7 (self-employment) visa that expires in August, which will then be extended until December. Do you know if it's possible to get one or more consecutive TIP's approved on this type of visa (i.e. a non-tourist one)?

Will have to talk to the DIAN in any case, but your experience could help a lot to find out where I stand.

Thanks in advance!

yentlvannierop :
cccmedia :

I had my Ecuador-plated 2016 car with me in Colombia for a year (December 2016 to December 2017).

Hi cccmedia, I saw this post, which is really relevant to my current position. I'm wondering, how did you manage to extend your vehicle permits over the course of a year, and based on what sort of visa(s) were they approved?

I'm currently looking at buying a car with Chilean plates in Colombia, with the intention of driving it through LATAM as of December 2018. What I'm curious about is whether it's possible to get a Temporary Import Permit for the time being (for 8 months), on a temporary resident visa?

I currently have a Colombian TP-7 (self-employment) visa that expires in August, which will then be extended until December. Do you know if it's possible to get one or more consecutive TIP's approved on this type of visa (i.e. a non-tourist one)?

Will have to talk to the DIAN in any case, but your experience could help a lot to find out where I stand.

Thanks in advance!

I'll be glad to relate my car-history in Colombia in this post.  However, it is beyond my competency to reliably predict how other drivers and car-owners would be treated going forward.

--------

I drove my 2016 Ecuador-plated Chevy Sail through northern Eciuador to the Rumichaca border near Ipiales, Colombia, on or about December 8, 2016 .. about 16 months ago.

At the border, I obtained a 90-day tourist visa for Colombia at
Migración Colombia .. followed minutes later by a 90-day car permit for Colombia issued by La DIAN, the customs and taxes agency.  There was no charge for either permit.  My car was inspected by La DIAN, mostly to photograph a plate under the hood that shows the vehicle's VIN.

I renewed my tourist permit about 85 days later at Migración Colombia in downtown Armenia.  The La DIAN office downtown did not process car permits, so I went about half-an-hour away to the agency's office near the airport on another day .. and obtained a car permit renewal.  Both the extensions were good for 90 days until June.

In the meantime, a law firm was processing my TP-7 rentista visa .. which came through in mid-March, good for one year until March 8, 2018 (last week). 

In June (2017), I obtained a six-month car-permit extension based on my TP-7 visa, issued at the DIAN office in downtown Medellín.  I was advised by a DIAN officer that this was my final car permit during my period of visa validity .. and my permit could not be extended again under the TP-7.  The final expiration date for the car permit extension was December 1, 2017.

On that date I was already here in Ipiales, Colombia, near the Ecuador border.  I drove the car to a Chevy dealership outside Tulcán, Ecuador, where it has been parked since for $23 a month.  I hope to pick up the car tomorrow now that my visa for Colombia has expired and I did some border crossings to obtain a fresh 90-day tourist permit.  This means going to La DIAN at the border with my car paperwork and requesting a fresh car permit.

Questions?

cccmedia in Ipiales, Nariño, Colombia

You or your attorney/facilitator absolutely has to check the Chile-plates/TP-7 renewal plan with the Colombian authorities before buying a vehicle.

One reason is that I doubt TP-7's are renewable.  Most or all of the TP's were replaced in December with new classes of visa, such as the 'M' for migrant class.  TP-7 visas issued before December 2017 retain their validity for the 12 months until the expiration date marked on the visa.

cccmedia in Ipiales, Colombia

Thanks a lot! It's definitely the most useful information on this topic, having spent hours searching on the internet!

Regarding  vehicle permits linked to a TP-7,  do you happen to know at all if...

1. they are limited to 6 months?
2. you can receive only one (and if that's the reason that one was your last) or if it's possible to receive several consecutive ones?

Again, thanks for the help!

As of December (2017), the TP-7 has been replaced by 'M' class visas (migrant) and possibly other visas with new letter-symbols.

So you will have to ask La DIAN what is possible.  I'd only be guessing. :cool:

cccmedia in Ipiales, Colombia

Hi,

I am planning on bringing my used car to colombia from the uk for 90/180 days. I will have no problem with the 90 tourist visa with my UK passport, and understand I will need to extend it after 90 days, but I am not clear on how to bring my car in with me.

Can I just ship it to the port in Santa Marta and receive it there?

Or do I have to send it to Equador, then drive it across the border?

If so, is it easy to just ship a car into Ecuador?

Giordano.Medellin: you will probably be the first person to every try this!

There are obviously no car transporters in the area so you will have to find a container and ship it in advance. It will be no use to you if it arrives months later!

Before your tourist visa expires, you and the car will have to leave Colombia.

Here's the Colombian government page addressing exactly what you want. for Importación temporal de medios de transporte de turistas, Temporary Import of means of transport of tourists:

https://www.nomasfilas.gov.co/memoficha … amite/T276

Click on the menu bar for "Extranjeros".

This does not address what tubes raised, about getting it to the country via a car transporter in the first place.

Here are several car transporters operating in the UK and shipping to Colombia:

http://www.fastlanefwd.co.uk/Container_ … ombia.html

http://www.cargonaija.com/vehicle-shipp … om-uk.html

Thanks,
I will look into this straight away : )

Why would you take a car into Colombia for only 3 to 6 months?

dcasanares :

Why would you take a car into Colombia for only 3 to 6 months?

There can be lots of reasons - maybe you'll only be in Colombia 3-6 months, but you want YOUR car and not some rental car that could end up costing a lot.  Maybe you are going to drive to places for days or even weeks, that would be difficult to get public transport access to using commercial buses and taxis.  Maybe you just like to have your own vehicle available whenever you want it, to go wherever you want, without having to make arrangements with unreliable people who never show up on time if at all.  And maybe you don't mind spending the not-inconsequential amount of money it takes to make all that happen.

The government of Colombia thinks there's enough reason to do this that they have this page addressing that very subject:

https://www.nomasfilas.gov.co/memoficha … amite/T276

Hi everyone, new member to the forum and would greatly appreciate your input.I have contacted several different people regarding this matter and can’t seem to get a clear answer.

In 2014 I rode a Suzuki  motorcycle from a Texas to Panama and then airfreighted the bike from Panama City to Bogota. I registered the motorcycle with Colombian Customs, DIAN when I picked up the bike the bike from The cargo carrier  at Bogota Airport and was issued a temporary import permit that was valid for 90 Days. I was in Colombia for about 2 weeks when I was in an accident just outside Cali. The motorcycle was totally damaged and not repairable. The motorcycle was taken to an impound lot in the town of Jaramundi after the wreck. I had some minor injuries and left the country via airplane a few days later. I left the motorcycle, most of my gear and all the import paperwork in Colombia and never cancelled the import permit. I have not returned to Colombia since. Fast forward 4 Years to today. I want to visit Colombia again and I would fly in. My question is this; Will I be flagged by immigration upon arrival because I never cancelled to bike permit. Will this be in the computer system? I am worried that they will see my passport number and tie it to the imported motorcycle and then fine me for not cancelling the permit. Do you know if this will be a problem for me?  Thank you in advance.
Mark

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