Guest Post: Buying a Car as An Expatriate

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As an expat living abroad, or even if you’re working overseas on a temporary basis, buying a car can be a difficult issue at times. However, provided you are armed with the correct information before making a purchase, it needn’t be such a daunting task. This article provides details of some of the things you should look out for when purchasing a car abroad.

The first thing to consider is the laws and regulations that are in force in the country within which you purchase the car and if you aren’t fully familiar with all the legal implications in the country that you now live in, this can be a vital aspect to take into account.
In all countries across the world, if you buy from a private individual you should be aware that the relevant consumer legislation from your home country will not apply to the transaction. Before you make the purchase you should therefore apply extreme caution with regard to the condition of the car. Make sure you take it for a test drive and, if possible, arrange for an independent check by a trusted and qualified mechanic, whether they are an individual or part of a motoring organisation. Only when you are completely certain that the car is right for you should you complete the purchase.

Many expats feel that the only benefit in buying a car from a private individual is the money that you could potentially save, however but this is still an advantage that should be taken into account. The vast majority of expats would prefer to be buying a car from a reputable dealer and a little research should point you in the right direction in this respect. Look up some local showrooms online or in a business directory and then see if you can find any feedback on them. Speak to friends and neighbours to see if you can get a recommendation on dealerships that they may have used.

Many of the dealers will be happy to do the paperwork for you and while the amount will vary from country to country, the ‘red tape’ involved in some parts of the world can be vast and baffling. Asking a dealer to handle all the paperwork for you has its obvious advantages but ask to be kept informed every step of the way. It can be easy to fall foul of local legislation, particularly in some countries when it comes to the question of previous finance on the vehicle.

In certain parts of the world, if a previous owner has defaulted on their vehicle payments, the outstanding debt is transferred to the new owner on purchase. This is a common piece of legislation that may seem completely unfair but it is very real and 100% enforceable so you must speak to your dealer and be certain that there are no outstanding payments before completing your own purchase. One option, depending on where you are based, is to hire the services of a local gestor. A gestor is a member of a law firm that can handle all your legal issues for you and is therefore in a much better position to understand all the pitfalls that come with local legislation.

If you decide against buying a car locally, you may still be able to purchase a vehicle from your ‘home’ country and have it shipped out to where you are currently living. Many car dealerships have been set up to trade with the growing expat market and as a result, they are specialists in this area. Vehicles can be supplied with local number plates and they can be left hand drive cars if required. In short, they can arrive at your door ready to drive immediately. Once again, all the relevant paperwork can be handled for you and while there are many advantages to this method, the only downside for some buyers is the cost and shipping a vehicle overseas will raise its overall price considerably.

Having decided which of these methods is best for you, there are still many things to consider and you should think carefully about the type of vehicle you are going to need. Do you require extra luggage space for family and friends? Are the road conditions poor in some areas where you live? All of these factors could determine which type of car you purchase and it’s a good idea to look at cars that are popular with the locals as there are usually some very good reasons for this.

Buying a car as an expat can be tricky but there are a number of options open to you and with a little care and attention, there is no reason why it shouldn’t be a simple task.

Thanks to Helen Prichard from carfinance247.

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