A Couple Reasons Why NOT to Import Your Vehicle Into Nicaragua
Every so often we get an email from someone asking whether or not they should import their vehicle into Nicaragua.
And our reply is always the same.
“Don’t do it!”
Here are a couple reasons why:
1. Foreign vehicles entering Nicaragua will only be granted a 30 day permit to be in transit.
Upon arrival in Nicaragua you will be granted a 90 day tourist visa. Your vehicle however, will only be permitted to legally remain in country 30 days.
It is possible to apply for a 30 day permit extension in Managua, but you can only apply for this extension once. So the best case scenario is that you’ll have to drive your vehicle out of the country every 60 days, instead of every 30.
Crossing the border into Costa Rica in your vehicle is nothing like crossing the border from Canada to the United States and vice versa. It is a complicated process. It involves import and export permits, vehicle fumigation, purchasing of insurance and more. This task could easily take a full day.
There is an exception to this rule. Foreigners with residency (depending on which type) may be eligible to import a vehicle into the country tax free.
2. Finding replacement parts for your vehicle in country is likely going to be very difficult.
Most vehicles sold in North American are not sold in Nicaragua, which means finding replacement parts for your foreign vehicle here may be next to impossible.
If you are lucky enough to find the parts you need for your car or truck the next challenge will be finding a mechanic who knows how work on said vehicle.
If you plan to stay in Nicaragua for more than a couple of months — and you want to have wheels — we recommend saving yourself some time, money and unnecessary stress by leaving your vehicle in your home country and purchasing one when you get here.
You may have read or heard that foreigners without residency cannot own or register a vehicle in their name in Nicaragua. This is true; however, many expats have purchased vehicles here.
They are able to do so by leaving the registration in the previous owner’s name and having a lawyer draw up a sales letter (carta de venta). This is also common practice for many locals, as it’s a way to avoid paying transfer tax.
With the registration card and a carta de venta it is possible purchase insurance for the vehicle.
Vehicle importation is a complicated process; one that we are far from subject matter experts on.
This article was not meant to provide full and complete details on importation of a foreign vehicle or foreign ownership of a Nicaraguan vehicle, rather merely help you understand that importing a vehicle into the country is not as easy a thing to do as a lot of people think.
In short, before you load up the car with your three kids, two dogs and all your worldly possessions — en route to Nicaragua — you might want to think twice!
Posted on March 12, 2016, in Travel & Transportation and tagged border crossing, car, carta de venta, Costa Rica, expat life, importation, Nicaragua, transportation, truck, vehicle. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.