Driving through South America to Canada

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Driving through South America to Canada

1. Posted by baylis (First Time Poster 1 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Hello everyone,
we will arriving in south america in about 4 weeks time. we want to buy a car and drive it up to vancouver in canada from brazil. Does anyone know anything about buyihng cars in south amaerica as UK citizens, and the legalities of driving accross borders? like paperwork? etc... would appreciate any help or advice, look forward to replies. Thanks again.


PS: I hope the replies will be sent to my email address? If they aren't automatically, can you send them to my email? -snip-
Thanks again

Sorry, personal e-mail addresses are not allowed in the forums. Please use the Message Center for replies. Nick, check your settings in your Message Center - you can set things so you will receive an e-mail notification, through your personal e-mail account, when a PM has been sent to you via TP.

[ Edit: Removed e-mail address. ]

2. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

If you subscribed to the thread, they should get sent to you.

The biggest issue you will have with this plan is the Darrien Gap in Panama. There are no roads through the area, and therefore driving is not possible between South America and North America. You might be able to ship the car via boat, but I am guessing unless this is a really special car, the costs will be very prohibitive for that.

I have heard good things about this book: Driving the Pan-American. I haven't personally read it, but I understand it covers a lot of the basics.

Best of luck in your trip!


3. Posted by dbloom (Respected Member 586 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Amen. The Darien Gap is now called the "Daring Gap" immpassable due to matters beyond anyone's control, years ago Land Rovers and outfitted 4WD's could get through, no more due to the situation. Buy a car in Canada, where it is cheaper, no worry about breaking down enroute, spare parts, finding guarded parking, etc. I had a vehicle in Central America 14 years and vehicles with South American plates are never seen here unless imported by a diplomat (by boat)..I would Bus it to Lima or Quito then fly over to Panama and Bus it to Canada if you wish a carefree journey. If you find a special special car you are able to ship to US/Canada by container..lift on lift off. about $1500 or so.

4. Posted by solveig (Full Member 53 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

I've done a 10.000km car trip here in South America (from Sao Paulo through northern Argentina to Chile/Peru and back through Bolivia).
I have also crossed from San Fransico to New York in a car.
As you migth have guessed the trips were very different. The roads in
SA are (of course) a lot worse (maybe except Chile). Besides that we
lost a lot of time crossing borders and dealing with corrupt police
officers who want money (without you having done anything wrong),
we also had to deal with crossing rivers without bridges and lots of
dirt roads or paved roads with lots of holes in them. So, if you have
the money get a good 4 wheel drive car.
Normally at each border you have to fill out a form for the car.
Don't loose this form, as you have to turn it in when leaving the country. In some countries, you have to stamp the from when passing
state borders. In most counrties you can only enter with a car if
the owner of the car is in it. I think that it is impossible to buy a car in Argentina and take it out of the country as a foreigner.
But, maybe in Chile, it is possible. Driving around in SA is
indeed a great experience, although it comes along with alot of worries. And then considering what people said about drossing the darian gap, it is not going to be an easy trip but adventurous:-)
I remember that I saw a car from Ontario in Peru, so it can't be impossible.

good luck!! Solveig

5. Posted by dbloom (Respected Member 586 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

The car from Ontario you saw in Peru was probably shipped in by container by a Peruvian-Canadian resident, with a time period to aquire national plates, South Americans living in US or Canada often ship their vehicles down with personal effects if returning to reside.. Here in Central america no more used cars over 6 years old may be imported by nationals, and cars with US, Canadian, Mexican and Panamanian plates pay about $30 or so in fees for permits (usually 30 days) at each border crossing, after 30 days the owner has to take the auto out of the country or the the auto will be seized until import taxes paid, if anything happens to the auto or the owner gets sick and needs to fly home the car is usually left at customs..oh and insurance, you'll need it in each country you drive in..in Latin America if you hit someone causing death, injury or excessive damage to another vehicle you go to jail until the case is settled, small damages can usually be settled personally with the other driver, hoping the police do not get involved. Never drive at night in Latin america, outside large cities and towns, nor in conflicted areas which include much of Colombia and Amazon regions.

6. Posted by whereshego (Budding Member 22 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

There is a guy who is blogging about this right now on Travelpod. His username is millarmotortour and I know him personally. He is a good guy and will answer any emails if you query him.

Hope this helps.

7. Posted by TonyHill (First Time Poster 1 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Hi Nick,

I have put some photos of our VW kombi under my profile for your interest so you can take a look.

Have you already arrived in S.America and if so, where are you now? We are in Santiago, Chile, and plan to sell the vehicle from here.
Does this suit your plans?

Regards, Tony

8. Posted by dbloom (Respected Member 586 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Lots of Photos and Practical Info. on Driving to Panama "John & Harriet Halkyard
Visit us at www.99DaysToPanama.com for a glimpse of our book on our exploits in Central America...." These people also have a Yahoo User Group..found them to be very helpful so we are assisting them.

9. Posted by dbloom (Respected Member 586 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Vehicles may be shipped via container from Cartagena, Colombia to Colon in Panama for approx. $500 lift on lift off, however the owners must fly over to Panama and vice versa. Lot's of paperwork involved, get a good shipping agent.