Anyone with a permanent resident visa may import a car. Those with temporary visas may also import a car, however it will only be on a temporary basis of 8 months, with an additional 8-month renewal. The documents required are below:
- Owner’s original passport
- AWB (Airway Bill) or two original B/L (Bill of Landing)
- Complete documentation of car
- Original purchase invoice with visa stamped by Argentine Consulate
The car must be registered under the shipper’s name. Two cars per family are allowed.If you are a permanent resident, the taxes will be quite high, upwards of 80% of the car’s CIF value (Cost, Insurance & Freight), which can be significantly more than the actual value of the car. Due to the ever-increasing taxes imposed on imports, many expats leave their cars behind and choose to purchase one in Argentina. The auto repairmen also tend to be very reluctant to fix any vehicles that they don’t have experience working on, and as the cars here are different than many in North America, if you’re importing a car from there and it breaks, you may have incredible difficulty getting it repaired.
It is a good idea to contact the Direccion General de Aduanas ahead of time, as they are in charge of all import controls, as well as collecting taxes and duties. The main website is in Spanish, with a few sections translated into English. The English website isn’t thorough, but you can contact the department directly, and they do have English speakers on staff. Make sure you have all the necessary and current information to import your car, as well as an idea of the import taxes you will be charged. Under current Argentine law, it is not stated that you have to submit the paperwork ahead of time; however don’t take this at face value as many expats have had a lot of difficulty bringing their vehicles with them. As of this time, there are no standard forms from Argentina that have to be completed, only the approval of the Argentine Consulate in your home country of the original purchase invoice of your car.
There are no inspections or emissions tests that will need to be done, as there are no emissions standards for used cars in Argentina. You can drive a car with your home country’s drivers license or an international drivers license; however, you cannot register your car in Argentina without a DNI, because only permanent residents and Argentine citizens are allowed to register a vehicle. You do this once you arrive, with your car, in the country at the DNRPA (the national automobile registration office). You should go in-person to a location with the same paperwork you needed for the importation, as well as your DNI, plus the invoice for the payment of import taxes.
Importation and the associated taxes, especially for vehicles, can be incredibly difficult and confusing because the laws are constantly changing. ARCA (Argentina Residency and Citizenship Advisors), a group who handles visas for expats and foreigners, can also help with importation laws and issues. They are fully bilingual, know the laws and are familiar with Argentine customs issues.