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Buying a car in Chile and South America

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Buying a car in Chile and South America

Last Post This thread is marked as being about Chile
1. Posted by Mr.Barker (First Time Poster 1 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

I bought a 1997 Ford Explorer 4x4 in Santiago, Chile in July. The process took me six days in total.

I drove throughout Chile, Argentina, and Peru with zero hassles. I lived out of the car, thereby avoiding hotel or hostel expenses.

Anyone who plans to buy a car here in Santiago or Chile in general is welcome to shoot me any questions. I should be able to answer them since the process is still fresh in my mind. Not quite coincidentally, I am looking to sell my car around the end of October.

John Barker

2. Posted by maj029 (Budding Member 2 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Hi John....

Just came across you thread a bit late on. I am soon to be hitting S.America taking in Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Peru.

Could you give me an idea of how much the whole process costed, i.e. insurance, tax, transfer, etc...? Also, roughly how much was your explorer..(If you don't mind me asking). As it has crossed my mind to maybe purchase a car / jeep and travel around at my own leisure...

Many thanks. Good Luck


3. Posted by Hans Hanse (Budding Member 2 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Yes, we did the same thing, bought a car in Chile and travelled around for several months. The car is now for sale, so let us now if interested.
Toyota Landcruiser Prado te koop in Chili, ideal for Patagonia, Carretera Austral, Ruta 40...
Info: 4x4, 1997, 152 000km, new tires. Can help with info on border crossings, insurance and paperwork. Nothing too difficult really.

Post 4 was removed by a moderator
5. Posted by ozziekrick (Budding Member 3 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

several questions

1. i understand there is some limitation on amount of USD you can import to pay for car. can you clarify?

2. can you get a cheap car in chile ...under $1000 to $2000 USD....and easily resell?

3. which other countries can you drive in with USA passport and car purchased in chile?

4. what happens if you simply abandon car without reselling?




6. Posted by Hans Hanse (Budding Member 2 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

1. We did not take any cash money with us from home so no info here. We got half the money out of the ATM (our limit is about 600 US$ per day per person) and took out a lump sum of 3,000 US$ using our credit card (I would recommend banco santander, they were very helpful).
2. Yes there are cars for sale in that price range. Look at and Don´t know how well they would sell.
3. You should be able to enter all bordering (and other) countries provided you make sure you have some valid insurance for the countries you would visit (there is one exception which is if you buy a second hand car in the tax free zone of Iquique, I don´t think you will be able to take a car bought in Iquique out of the province which will defeat the purpose of buying a car for travel in the first place - I would recommend Santiago as the easiest place to buy a car). At the border they may ask you if you are a resident of Chile but because you have a RUT (which you need when you buy the car) you just show them the RUT and use the address you used to obtain your RUT. Wrt insurance, we bought a standard car insurance for Chile at falabella (a big shopping mall). Then when we crossed to Argentina we bought a 7 day car insurance for Argentina in Chile and as soon as we got to Argentina we bought an in comprehensive and thus cheap insurance for several surrounding countries at a local insurance company in Argentina. We only went to Argentina with the car (6 times, acc. to one officer I was supposed to be a resident, the others did not seem to be interested as long as I had the right paperwork). Right paperwork for the car is the padron (your proof of ownership), a RUT number, insurance and the yellow form they/you fill in at the initial border crossing out of Chile.
4. Don´t know and not going to find out. My main worry would be that somebody makes havoc with a car which is under your name. I would like to make sure it is registered on somebody else it´s name before I leave the car. You may come back in 4 years and find a few outstanding tickets. Actually I more or less abandoned my car in Australia and now pay a fine each 4 months for not having returned the number plates......
Hope this helps, exact (and very help full) manuals on how to buy a car can be found on and

7. Posted by rowtravels (Budding Member 4 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

hi there, glad i stumbled upon this thread.

im just about to buy a car in Punta Arenas. I know now that it can't be registered in the tax exempt zone here, zona franca.
*HOW do you tell if the car has full registration? not tax exempt? is that what the GNR sticker means?

I was trying to find out what i needed for the rego today but my spanish is too shit to understand what they say. they speak so fast.
*ALL i got was that i needed:
- A receipt, which they said i needed to ask the Servicio de Impuestos Internos about. But they also responded positively when i said i could get one written out by the previous owner
- An address, well thats fine, i'll use the hostel address BUT DO THEY NEED A DOCUMENT STATING THE ADDRESS?

ALso i wanted to know when you go into argentina do you need to pay a special charge at the border to bring your car in? if so how long does it last for?

Any info you people can give is greatly appreciated!


Beuno Viaje

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9. Posted by rowtravels (Budding Member 4 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Well some advice i can give is that if you are looking to buy a car in Chile


start in Punta Arenas.

Because of the tax free zone here people import cheap cars and have them registered on a special permit. this permit only allows travel in the Patagonia area, to go further you need another permit which lasts for a max of 90 days, so im told. the cars can only be sold back in Punta Arenas as well.

the registration you need is the Liberado.

The tax free cars can travel in all the other countries without restriction though so i may be lazy and decide to do chile in 90 days then move on out of trouble

10. Posted by otromundo (First Time Poster 1 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!


we want to buy a car in chile :) but if we find one, is it possible to send it overseas? do you have more info on this? we might want to send it to belgium so we can still use it at home