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Travellers' questions that don't fit anywhere else This is an opportunity to ask any question, and post any notice you wish that doesn't fit into one of the other sections.
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Old 7 Feb 2016
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Buying or shipping a car to South America to travel for a year

Hi everyone,

I have searched a lot on this topic, but I can't find any recent satisfactory information. Please let me know if there is a relevant thread somewhere else.

About us:
My husband, son (who will be 2-3 years old) and I plan to travel around South America for a year, starting in April 2017 or 2018. We are living in Germany and want to leave on the trip when we are both finished with our degrees. We speak spanish and our budget is around 20k euros.

The trip:
Since we will be travelling with our young son, long trips in the bus or hith-hiking would be very difficult. having a car in which we can sleep will give us the flexibility we need. We are flexible with where to buy the car and would like to find the place where it is both not very expensive and where the paperwork is possible to do for foreigners (I've read that in Argentina and Brazil it is very difficult if not impossible if you're not a resident). We might also consider the option of buying a car in Europe and shipping it to SA if that happens to be easier.

- Does anyone have experience in buying a car in SA? Which is the best country in which to do so?
- How about for shipping a car from Europe to SA?
- How much can we expect to pay for a used 4 wheel drive camper?
- Any other advice for a family travelling around?

Thank you all very much in advance!

A, P and N
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Old 7 Feb 2016
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: NSW Australia - but never there
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Chile is one place where it is possible to buy and own and operate a car legally. See the sticky in the South American section of HUBB (skip the first few pages as procedures have changed)

Limitations are that you are not supposed to take it out of Chile for more than 6 months at a time.
Other serious limitation is you can't sell it outside of Chile.

Many foreigners buy from other foreigners and it is nearly always at least slightly illegal and has the big problem that it is usually impossible to get legal ownership back in the state of registration.

Another possibility is buying in the US or even Canada but that also requires careful research if you hope to be able to on-sell it when you are ready to go home.

Lots of others get around the legalities by using photoshop and basically going feral but of course that involves risks you might not want to take on.

See also DriveAmerica and Panamericana forums and maybe expedition portal as they have vehicles for sale. Also panamtravellers facebook
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Old 7 Feb 2016
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Location: Brooklyn, NY, USA
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In Colombia it is possible for foreigners to register a car. Localy assembled cars are cheaper than imported ones, except Chinese cars, but who would truct one of those. Chevrolet and Renault are locally produced and even used should be less expensive. Korean cars may also be cheap. There are many Foreign registered cars for sale right now in Argentina and Chile, go to the Panamerican Travelers facebook page and you will find several.
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Old 7 Feb 2016
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I'll offer that the information you seek is certainly available on the HUBB as well as scattered all over the internet. It might just be that you don't find it all neatly and coherently assembled in one place. What would that look like, anyway? Something which describes a family just like yours doing just the trip you envision within the past couple of years? Unlikely. Instead, you'll find it in pieces and you'll assemble the whole picture bit by bit.

In practical terms, asking specific questions will tend to yield useful answers here and elsewhere. I'll address just one question which you are not exactly asking, but which seems to me key: your budget. You're looking at about 54 euros per day, which is pretty low for three people in a 4x4 camper van. In fact, it's lower than average (although within a reasonable range) for one person on a motorcycle. If that budget includes, for example, flights to and from South America, vehicle purchase with insurance and registration, any necessary gearing-up or vaccinations, or periodic splurges on food, lodging, souvenirs, tours, etc., you're going to want to reconsider.

Chile's one place where you can legally purchase, subject to all sorts of caveats. Lots of people go the quasi-legal route in various countries. This always involves photoshop at some point, and it's probably the norm for people in your position, both purchasers and sellers. Lots do ship vehicles from Europe, Central America, or North America--you could start by perusing the shipping section here on the HUBB.

There is no place where it is inexpensive to purchase a vehicle--at least by my North American standards.

Hope that's helpful.

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car, driving, family, south america

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