Buying a car in Jamaica


To be able to move in Jamaica, a lot of expatriates think of buying a car, whether new or second-hand.

What are the formalities to buy a vehicle in Jamaica: car registration, insurance, etc.?

What are the relevant authorities or organizations to contact?

How long does it take and what are the associated costs?

Thank you in advance for sharing your experience,


Speaking from experience buying a car in Jamaica is a test of patience and fortitude and your wallet.
Unless you are desperate or really cannot afford much try and buy from a dealer who imports used cars from japan to sell. These are usually three years old and quite low mileage. Of course if you are wealthy then buy a brand new auto!
The process that I went through was thus. Find a car. Hear the engine running at the very least and if you can get someone who knows about cars to give it the once over do so. Agree the price and give a deposit; then I had to stand in a very very long queue in a bank to pay over the rest of the money. The dealer should get the car fitness checked (this is basically does the car have brakes and lights check but you will have to pay for it in the region of $4000 upwards). The license for a year will cost at least $10500 per annum although this rises given the size of the vehicle. All this has to be paid upfront before the dealer does anything. You also have to pay to get the car valued for insurance purposes, (I know you would have thought they would have a blue book here to make that unnecessary...but hey this is Jamaica). Do not assume that the valuation you are given has any resemblance to the actual value of the doesn't. This costs from $5000 upwards. Car insurance is horrendously expensive so unless you have deep pockets stay away from expensive SUV's etc. There are insurance brokers everywhere so take your pick. Once you collect the car you might be lucky and get a users manual in the vehicle but I doubt it so budget for getting one of those on line. You will get a warranty with it and I think they have just extended this as when I bought mine I got 1 don't laugh! Should be about 6 months now I think.
Make sure you always have your documents in the car (license and insurance certificate plus fitness) and your driving license with you. The police get very snotty if you don't have them and having you car impounded is very very expensive to sort out.
Renewing the license and fitness you go through the local tax office. The fitness test is done at another centre which may, or may not be close by. You may even get a vehicle with an alarm on it but as car alarms in jamaica all sound the same and also sound like house burglar alarms they are worse than useless - believe me I spent 30 years in security and all you need is an immobilizer on a car. One other point - get a Jamaican driving license asap. It serves as your ID as well.

Hi Grey Biker,
What procedure is there to get a JA driving license? Can you transfer your UK one or do you need to do practical and theory exams?

Having got my apartment I debated hard whether to get a car and it is not for me.
In Ochi restrictions on parking, heavy police presence along with all that is mentioned in above email. I have a good taxi service and that suits me.

I was in the Jamaican consulate in Birmingham today. I was talking to one of the guys in there told me:
“The businessmen in Jamaica go to Japan, buy the cars there and import them to Jamaica. All are between 3 & 5 years old.”

I'm tempted to go to Japan and buy a car there to import myself. Anyone fancy being my plus one? 😜

Hi, did you get a Jamaican driver's license? Mine is about to expire. Did you have to take a test or just show up with the paperwork? TIA