Sending spare parts to either Argentina or Chile
I might(!) be in for some product support from 2 companies and I'm already in S-America. (I'm still negotiating, it's not 100% safe yet).
Can someone please tell me their experience with having things sent from Europe to South America? Since I'm here on a tourist visa: Would I be tax-exempt? Or am I likely to have to pay import duty?
(Items are worth around 400 Euros + the other 900 Euros, 2 different companies)
Which would be the better place to have things sent to: Buenos Aires (or Ushuaia), or Santiago?
Import Taxes Argentina
Hi again Bjorn, foreign tourists are NOT exempt from import taxes on imported motorcycle parts in Argentina.
It is illegal to import used motorcycle parts, new parts will be taxed based on an accompanying invoice and/or the "expertise" of the customs officer. My experience has been that the import tax on new motorcycle parts is 50% - 60% of stated value, but this might vary as much as 20% up or down.
When you go to the airport, if parts are shipped DHL, UPS or FED EX, customs will open the package and assign import taxes due there, and there you will pay.
The same is true for the post office, there is a post office customs building where you go through the same drill as at the airport.
Be prepared to spend 3-4 hours at either location and be bounced out until the next day. At least at the post office you take a number, at the airport you sit on the edge of a row of chairs and listen carefully for a call for the next in line. Of course, the official brokers, despachantes, friends of customs are given priority.
The system does work eventually, my advice is to stay cool, bring a snack and be very polite as you go to airport customs office #1, office #2 office #3 and then finally you get to see customs open your package and assign taxes, and then you pay the taxes and then you leave with your parts.
There is a little snack bar across the tarmac from airport customs where you can recover a little and use the bathroom.
Flying spare parts into Argentina as a passenger on a commercial airline is legal to the total limit authorized for a foreign tourist. When filling out the customs form, before landing, list the "spare parts" as necessary for overland touring. Please check with airlines for dollar amount of personal gear allowed tax free.
Hope to see you and your friend saturday.
Eat, Drink and Be Careful xfiltrate
I had a part sent from Germany to Chile (through customs in Santiago).
I didn't have to pay German tax since it was shipped straight from the shop to Chiles (you have to pay German tax if someone else buys and sends it for you). Instead I paid Chilean import duty and tax. Also I had to pay for storage in Santiago, because customs held the parcel for more than a week for no apparent reason (the paperwork was in order). If I remember correctly storage cost was almost 100 US for a fairly small parcel, I'm sure they didn't release it so they could charge me for storage.
In total the whole thing, including FedEx, cost me about 400 Euros (the cost of the spare part was approx. 150 Euros I think) and a lot of time. I wasn't very impressed by FedEx btw as they weren't any help in getting the parcel released by customs. Getting a Chilean to inquire and complain two times by phone did the trick though.
I am not convinced that the Argentines are more efficient but luckily I didn't have to find out.
Import Storage Fees
Not to be outdone by Chile, Argentine customs also charges a storage fee at the airport customs location, I am not sure if the storage fee is more or less at post office customs, but I am sure a fee is charged each 24 hours.
Thanks PeerG I forgot to mention this important consideration.
Eat, Drink and Be Careful xfiltrate
Thanks for your answers – Well that's what I thought it would be like. Pretty crap. I remember I had a shock absorber (spare part) sent to me in Kyrgzyzstan. "Luckily" UPS was really late AND delivered it 800km away from where it SHOULD have been delivered. So I felt it was appropriate to give them a hard time – to the result that I didn't have to pay any import tax...
Does anyone know about other countries? (Uruguay / Paraguay / Bolivia)?
I dont know if this can help, but while i left my motorcycle in Argentina, i brought a used rear shock absorber.
I landed in Asuncion, Paraguay, and no question was asked about it. When i crossed the border in Clorinda with a bus, AFIP did see the absorber and questioned me about it.
I explained i was travelling around South America, left my bike in Formasa and bought this spring second hand in France. They asked me if i had other motorcycle parts in my luggage, and i said no. They didnt charge me anything, i think for several reasons :
- I obviously wasnt doing any business, this was a single shock absorber for my personal use.
- I was in a collective transport. Making papers for that import would have delayed the whole bus while there were already lots of buses in line.
If i follow Xfiltrates legal advises, i should have been taxed tho. In South America, there is the law and the application of the law, which are two different things and entirely depend on the appreciation of the officer. Good faith is always taken into account.
Things might have been different in Eizeza, international airport with lots of custom agents eager to make some cash. Smaller borders far away from the central administration are always easier to deal with, the relation is more personal.
I can suggest you never use a courier company like FedEx to sent anything to Chile because always will pay taxes and storage. Just use the common post because normally you will don't pay taxes and will receive your things faster. Sometimes Chilean Custom will get your things and you will pay taxes, but usually not. I don't know why, but this is the Chilean way.
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