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How To Buy a Car in Peru

It’s not difficult to buy a car in Peru as a foreigner, but there isn’t much detailed information out there about how to do it. A couple of people have emailed me, asking what the process is. Here’s our experience. Things may change, so this is just a summary of the process we went through, and in no way legal or professional advice on how to purchase a car.

As a foreign tourist, I had to get a stamp in my passport from the immigration office, DIGEMIN, located in the Breña neighborhood of Lima (near the historical center), which gives foreigners permission to sign contracts here in Peru, and is called “permiso especial para firmar contratos para extranjeros”.  The stamp is good for only 3 months, so when we want to sell the van a few months from now, I’m going to have to get the stamp in my passport again.

Photo: mezzoblue

We got to the DIGEMIN office at around lunchtime, but the process is quite long, and the window that issues the stamp is only open from 8:30 am to 1 pm, so we had to go through just half the process and then return the next morning to finish up the steps, because the office closed before were able to get all the steps done.  Here are the steps we went through:

  1. We went first to the information desk located to the left of the main entrance and told the lady at the desk that we wanted to get the permiso especial para firmar contratos para extranjeros. She gave us a form and told us to fill it out, pay a fee of 10 soles (about $3.30 USD) at the bank teller window in the next room, and then go up to the 3rd floor, where we had to go to a particular window to present the form and the receipt for the 10 soles payment.
  2. We filled out the form and went to the Banco de la Nacion teller window in the next room to pay the fee. The line was quite long; we had to wait about 40 minutes. We paid the fee and received a receipt from the teller. This is where we had to stop on day 1, because it was past 1 pm by the time we paid the fee.
  3. The next morning, we headed straight to the window on the 3rd floor that the lady at the information desk had told us to go, and waited about 10 minutes in line to see the attendant. We gave him my passport, the filled-out form from the day before, and the receipt from the day before. He filled out some official-looking slip and gave it to us to take back down to the bank teller window; it was an order for payment of $50 USD for the passport stamp.
  4. We had to go back down to the Banco de la Nacion window to pay the fee (another 20 minute wait in line), and then back up to the 3rd floor to present the receipt of payment and my passport to the same attendant I had seen previously. We then waited about 15 minutes until he called my name to collect my passport with the stamp in it.

Here’s a great link that explains what to look for when checking out a used car, and how to buy a car in Peru (in Spanish — you can try using Google Translate if you don’t read Spanish): Todo Autos comprando un auto usado

We found our van through mercadolibre, and also looked at patiotuerca, the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree’s “for sale” section, the Travellerspoint message board, craigslist for Peru, and in the Peruvian newspaper El Comercio‘s classifieds section.

Photo: WageIndicator – Paulien Osse

Once we got the Contract-Signing stamp in our passport, found the car we wanted to buy, and had the car checked out by a mechanic, we headed to a notary with the sellers to sign the vehicle transfer contract, which took all of 30 minutes. Next, you have to wait for the tarjeta de propriedad (ownership registration card) to come back to the notary’s office in your name, which takes 8 to 10 business days. The notary received the tarjeta and called me to come pick it up. The last step is to pay a fee for new license plates (around 100 soles) to the Asociacion Automovil del Peru through the a branch of Banco de la Nacion: the notary gives you a slip ordering the payment to the Asociacion, with your specific payment order number on it. I brought the slip to a Banco de la Nacion teller, paid the teller, and she registered the payment towards my order number through her computer system.

Two to three days after paying this fee, you go to their offices to turn in your old plates and pick up your new ones. And that’s it!

Photo: caitlinator

Here are some details about the car-purchasing process specific to Peru that we discovered when we researched it:

  •  If the car is owned by a married person, both spouses need to be at the notary with you to sign the vehicle transfer contract.
  •  The serial numbers on the property card for the car should match the motor and chassis serial numbers on the actual car. Check these. If the numbers on the card differ from the ones on the actual motor or chassis, the car or engine may be stolen.\
  •  As part of the services of the vehicle transfer process, when you go to sign the contract, the notary should do an online check with SUNARP to see if there are any outstanding fines or liens on the car,.
  •  Double-check the spelling and all of your information on the contract that you sign and also on the tarjeta de propriedad when you receive it – it’s quite common that errors will occur, and you may end up paying some kind of police fine later if you are stopped in your vehicle and your information doesn’t match the information on the tarjeta.
  •  SOAT is obligatory liability insurance in Peru. The previous owners of the vehicle would have needed to have SOAT, and if you’re lucky, it’s still valid. It’s renewable once a year and costs between 100 and 250 soles, depending on the kind of vehicle you buy. You can buy it at companies like RIMAC, and there are tons of smaller insurance businesses that sell it as well.
  •  As a tourist, you might run into the same problem we did, where the only way for us to get the money to buy the car was through an ATM. The banks we consulted would only give us a large cash advance on a credit card, but not on a Visa ATM card, and we didn’t want to take a credit card advance. We were able to call our bank to ask them to increase our daily ATM withdrawal limit just for one day, and then take it out over several withdrawals at the same ATM. Some banks here in Lima (eg. Scotiabank) have their own daily ATM withdrawal limits that they impose on everyone regardless of whether your bank will lift its daily limit, but others (eg. BNP and Interbank, at the time of writing) allow unlimited cash withdrawal from their ATMs as long as your own bank at home has raised the daily limit for you. Ask around at banks to find one without a limit. We read online about other people’s nightmare-ish situations where they had to go to 10 different ATMs in one day, and carry all that cash around with them.
  •  Once we took the cash out, we bought a cheque de gerencia made out to the seller, from the same bank where we used the ATM. A cheque de gerencia is like a money order. The fee to purchase one costs about $5 USD. With a cheque de gerencia, we didn’t have to carry the cash anywhere. The cheque is non-negociable, so it can’t be cashed by anyone except the person whose name is on it, and if we lost it, we could bring our receipt back to the bank and cancel it. You’ll need your passport if you’re going to buy a cheque de gerencia.
  •  I don’t mean to make the process sound more hazardous than it was, but one thing to watch out for is that Peru has a major counterfeit bill problem. If you take cash out of an ATM to pay for the vehicle (or at any other time, for that matter, even just for a bit of pocket money), make sure to check each bill to see if it looks or feels fake. If it seems fake, bring it immediately to a teller at the bank. For this reason, it’s best to use ATMs directly connected with bank branches, while the branches are open. Here’s a link to how to spot fake Peruvian bills.
17 Comments leave one →
  1. Ted Lang permalink
    May 15, 2012 1:55 pm

    UNCLE T;
    I bought a car for the grand baby boys, 5 and 2. It was much easier and it wouldnt fit in the trunk so I borrowed a traler.
    it is a Dodge hemi, complete with 2 speeds and reverse. Police Logo, siren, loud speaker, flashing light,voice contact with control office and 2 bucket seats.
    Easy; just went to Canadian Tire.
    Love
    T

  2. Alexia permalink
    January 10, 2013 3:30 pm

    Dear travelers,

    I just bought a car to travel everywhere in South America. I followed the steps described in your article. So, I went to Digemin to have a stamp on my passeport. 

    DIGEMIN: Av. España Nº 730 – Breña – Lima. Call center 2001000 | Fax 2001001
    (8:00 – 13:00)

    1) I arrived at 8′ and queued at the entrance where I received the form “F004” that I had to fill in (name, birth date, passeport number,…)
    2) I queued to make copies of my passeport + Andean Immigration Card (TAM)
    (small paper received at the airport). A good option would be to do it by yourself previously.
    3) I queued to the “Banco de la Nacion”. I paied 16 soles. They gave me a receipt. (the fee of 50$ is no longer valid)
    4) I went to the 3th floor for the last step: I gave all the copies (passeport, ATM, receipt of the Banco de la Nacion, form…) finally, they put a stamp on my passeport!

    Have a nice trip!

    Alexia

    • Marco permalink
      October 23, 2013 10:26 pm

      Bonjour Alexia…from Montréal,

      I hope your travels are goin’ very well…
      We (me and 2 good buddies) are leaving for Lima on Dec 23rd and coming back from Buenos Aires on 27 Jan….I have a few questions…

      #1 How long did the whole process take from start to end (having right to buy a car)?
      #2 We wish to travel from Lima to Buenos Aires. Do you have any feedback to give us? Or do you foresee or have had problems crossing borders?
      #3 We wish to sell our car inm Argentina, any feedback possibly?
      #4 Would you have anything else to add? 🙂

      Merci bcp Alexia!

      Marco Tambeau

      For travel buddies, Mathieu Daudelin and Rémi Taurines.

      • Daniel permalink
        August 12, 2015 11:38 am

        HI Marco

        Did you end up completing the trip as above? I’m thinking about doing the same next month. Details on times/complications would be especially helpful

        Cheers

  3. Alexia permalink
    January 10, 2013 3:38 pm

    If you look for a car, here are some good websites:

    http://www.adoos.com.pe/
    http://neoauto.clasificados.pe/
    http://www.mercadolibre.com.pe/

    • January 10, 2013 3:55 pm

      Thanks Alexia! Hope you have a great trip through South America!

      • Alexia permalink
        January 10, 2013 5:47 pm

        Thank you for all the informations. Il was very useful! 🙂

  4. sarah permalink
    April 19, 2013 2:52 pm

    hi there,
    I{m wondering how you found out that you needed the stamp in your passport to sign contracts? I have been asking at my local SUNARP and notaria office to find out if I need to travel all the way to Lima to get this stamp to buy a car here in Huancayo. thanks,
    Sarah

    • April 19, 2013 10:04 pm

      Hi Sarah,
      Our notary told us we needed the stamp. You don’t need to go to Lima, you can go to any Digemin office that offers the service of “permiso especial para firmar contratos para extranjeros”. Here’s the list of Digemin offices outside Lima: http://www.digemin.gob.pe/laorganizacion_oficinas2.html
      I believe the ones that have an “inmigracion” section mentioned on that page can do the stamp, but call to confirm. good luck!

      • Sarah permalink
        May 23, 2013 1:00 pm

        I had to travel to Lima because the DIGEMIN in Huancayo doesn`t give the stamp, and I only paid 16 soles, they told me that you no longer have to pay $50, which is great. Also the stamp is only good for 30 days, not 3 months. Thanks for the great info!!

  5. Vanessa permalink
    May 13, 2014 2:46 pm

    It’s still the same procedure as described by Alexis above, still 16 soles. Only thing different from last year is that after handing over all your documents on the 3rd floor they explicitly tell you to come back in one and a half hours (before you just waited a while). Then you go back there and wait for the pile of passports to be handed back to their owners. And it really is only valid for one month now….

  6. StevePapa permalink
    May 18, 2015 1:32 pm

    Hey,

    I am looking at buying a car in Peru, then travelling into other countries. Do you have any information about selling a Peru registered car in other South American countries?

    Thanks!

    • May 23, 2015 1:23 pm

      Hi Steve,

      Sorry, we don’t have any info about selling a Peruvian car in other countries. Let us know if you find a good resource for that! I think it might be difficult, but I guess it depends on which country you sell it in, and their laws. Good luck!

      Delphine

  7. Jonathan permalink
    May 23, 2015 1:15 pm

    In early 2016, I will fly into Lima and purchase a vehicle (your resource is invaluable, by the way) for my panamerican drive to my final destination and new home, Buenos Aires. The most salient info from this resource for me is the length of time it took for the purchase and registration to become official. You had to remain in the city for eight days until finalized? Please respond to my email address 🙂 thanks so much

  8. October 14, 2016 8:56 am

    Thanks for all the info. I am about to start the process Monday morning. Excited to do this. Once I have own car with Peru plates and have SOAT insurance I an interested to know wjat it takes to drive it across the border and into at least: Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. Thanks Martin

Trackbacks

  1. How to buy a car in Peru « Surfing Round The World
  2. Préparatifs (1): trouver une voiture | Alex & Lo in America

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