Unfortunately, we can’t drive from the US to South America, there is no road that connects Panama to Colombia. And it’s no secret car prices in Ecuador are a little steep compared to those Stateside.
I remember, in 2004 in the US I bought a $350 car. It sounded like a small aircraft, but ran, and lasted a few months until I left the States for good.
Finding a deal like that is not likely in Ecuador.
Some resort to importing their car from the States, but restrictions apply that seem to constantly change month to month and often depend on who you talk too… know this:
Used cars are not permitted to enter Ecuador (with a few exceptions). New cars that cost over $80,000 are considered luxury items and will be taxed often for 100% of the estimated value. The same is applied to boats and planes.
But Ecuador recently passed a new law to help encourage their citizens living in other countries to come home to Ecuador allowing them to bring back all their belongings or “household goods” without paying taxes within 6 months of their arrival in one bulk shipment.
So if you can prove that the car, boat, or plane is for pure personal transportation purposes only you can bring it in the same container as your “household goods” and not have to pay import taxes and fees (around 20%) on it.
Foreigners moving to Ecuador can also take advantage of this household goods exemption. You will need some type of resident visa in Ecuador, upon acceptance of residency, you will have to leave the country and upon re-entry you will have up to 6 months to bring your stuff down without paying taxes (in one solo container).
When bringing a car in the container, the following restrictions apply…
The car can be exempt from all import tariffs and taxes if it is maximum 4 years old and has a current maximum appraised value of $20,000 and a maximum 3000 cc motor. If the car is older than 4 yars old or is more powerful than 3000 cc you officially can’t import it, but I’d check with a customs agent or two in their offices around the airport in Quito to see if you can find a loop hole (restrictions subject to change).
The value is determined by the customs agents who will need your original receipt of purchase, and in the case of used cars, they apply a 20% depreciation per year.
One interesting thing to note is that Ecuador is favoring Hybrid cars, and if you import a hybrid car (it has to be new), you will only pay a 20% tax plus 5% import tariff (but the tariff varies slightly according to the cc).
To begin the process, you will need to present the car’s documents in the INEN (department of the Ecuador government) and get a certification before importing the car.
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