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Photo by Ellen Delis,
Lagunas Ojos del Campo,
Antofalla, Catamarca

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Old 13 Dec 2016
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buying a California plated car from another traveller in PANAMA, ... do or don't?

hi ,

i'm considering to buy a car from another traveller in Panama, drive it through central america and at the end of the trip sell it either in Mexico , or maybe in California (depends how the trip goes..)

so the car is registered in California, US, the owner and i are both foreigners (European).

does anybody know if this is actually legal, or will i get in trouble with this ? And what is the procedure to follow ?

i checked the www.dmv.ca.gov website , where the car is registered. There is a lot of information but it's all about selling and buying when you are IN the USA.

they also mention 'visit a DMV office within 10 days of purchase to transfer ownership' ... which of course i can't do when i'm in Panama.

i tried to contact DMV but no chance to get in. No email , no contact form on the website , there is a hotline but waiting time is half an hour and costs me too much since i'm calling international.

so how can i get this car on my name without having to go to California ?

Next, what about Panama laws ? how does it work to get the stamp for the temporary import permit from the owner's passport to my passport ?

If the car changes owner, does it mean that the seller , or the buyer, needs to pay import tax first ? or does this only apply when a local wants to buy the car ?

i've found this link with info about foreign cars in Panama , but my spanish is not good enough to really understand these kind of text. ( i can order dinner and book a room in spanish, but reading gouverment rules and procedures is something else)


sorry, a lot of questions , i know. but i want to be well informed and not ending up stuck at some border with a lot of fines to pay.

if there are any other tips, or experiences from people who already did this, pls let me know the do's and don'ts

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Old 25 Dec 2016
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: albury nsw australia
Posts: 307
try this , no idea if it will work where you are

its a third party company that charges a fee to do it online , you may need a california address though , which you may be able to ask someone on here or advrider for
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Old 28 Dec 2016
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Trying to get the car across borders when it's not in your name will be the real issue.
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