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Buy a Car in Colombia... in FOUR DAYS!

Hi everyone here's the information to buy a new car in Colombia in about 4-5days.

Photo by Poblado Cars on Instagram

Why buy a car in Colombia?

Before we start, many people like myself fly in and out of Colombia and want a vehicle. Or perhaps you live here and are tired of the mistreatment of taxis especially now that Uber is gone.

Also, many people are tourists, who come in out, but want a vehicle and don't have a cedula, hence this post if you're one of them who stays up to 6 months a year on a tourist stamp.

After buying my first car, I realized that it doesn't cost that much. Insurance is 500usd a year with full coverage, Gas cost me 50 bucks for a tank to fill and I have the freedom to go anywhere. Taxis were costing me 10mil a trip, twice, three times a day, without the freedom, no thanks.

I also thought, gee, I'd lose my walking around exercise but no, instead I opened my horizons, living in Cartagena, I go to Barranquilla, Santa Marta, hiking at Tayrona park, and drove to places that were soooo amazing.

In Medellin for example at Envigado Viva Centro Commercial, they have a camping store that has every technology and camping gear, clothes, shoes, etc that I bought for my excursions! I'm doing a lot more with a vehicle and actually never looked back. Especially at those small yellow taxis

Let's start.

Monday, find your car

The vehicles as posted here are about 21-24k. The ecosport is 21500 usd taxes in. The Renault Kwid and the Fiat One are the under 10K usd about 33mil cop.

You can buy a higher end vehicle but now that I'm a little older and wiser, I really have an issue with buying a vehicle that costs three times as much in Colombia that I can buy in Canada.

Many vehicles like Ford build their vehicles in Brazil so the import taxes and shipping isn't as expensive as a BMW, Mercedes etc. Also be fairly warned on user cars, there is no carfax reports, you will never ever know what accidents it had and what body shops did to get it to look good until it's too late.

I paid less for a 2020 Ford Ecosport 4x4 $21,500 all in taces, registration etc than I would have in the US. Feeling good I didn't get ripped off. You can browse for cars initially online at TUCARROS to find a model that suits you before heading to a dealer.

Now before going to the dealer, you probably want to get a credit card that doesn't have any foreign transaction fees. Here's why. If you were to exchange to COP you will never ever get that exchange rate that you see on Google. So today we get 3400. I actually got 3400 to the dollar on my credit card saving me over 8.5 milliones pesos about 2500 usd!

You're not going to find that information by googling.

Also ensure your bank is ready to do a couple of large transactions because no matter who you are, or how big your limit is, a transaction out of Colombia for a large amount without a usual frequent purchase may get blocked. I had to call and they let my transactions flow, with no issues.

For some, you may want to overpay your card if your limit is not high enough or get a higher limit. Keep in mind if you overpay your credit card, it may be put on hold by the bank until those funds are cleared from 2 -7 days.

Tuesday, you found the car you like.

Ask the dealer if you can pay by credit card. The first answer will be no, or I don't know. Give them time to answer.

They will probably come back to you and say the fees will be too much to pay Visa or Mastercard. Then, tell them you will pay the fees. It will be around 2 percent possibly 2.5 percent. Do it... it's ok because that's about 1.8 milliones vs the 8.5 milliones you would lose exchanging at a bank in physical cash. You may also try to negotiate, they pay half the fee.

Dealerships are in a group, they may have other dealerships as well. If you can't pay by your "no foreign transaction fee credit card", I would not buy that vehicle, go to the next dealer. A net gain of over 6milliones buys me quite a few dinners at high-class restaurants in Cartagena.

Tuesday - you got the payment ready, car picked out, negotiating time. Well sort of, there is no negotiating. What? In general, Colombia doesn't have the culture of negotiating prices of NEW cars. Instead, they may have promotions, where they might give you free SOAT, which is the minimum insurance required like liability insurance, no comprehensive. They also throw in free tint and car mats. I also got a kit, fire extinguishers, safety markers etc

You can try to negotiate but just be fairly warned, it's tough.

If you think negotiating would be a challenge for you, we suggest hiring one of our Lifestyle Executives and Translators to work along with you on this process to ensure that your bases are covered.


Now in my case, I've owned a couple of cars. I had a convertible Mercedes, thought it was cool, it was a 2013 but this year, I sold it and bought a Ford Ecosport All-wheel Drive. I needed it for the sandy beaches living in Cartagena and the higher clearance because of some roads.

I also went with this compact SUV because in Cartagena the walled city has very tiny streets, so I can get in and out easily, but inside the vehicle has a "big feel". It was delivered to me yesterday. (BTW, Colombia doesn't distinguish between 4x4 and AWD. To them it's interchangeable and means the same thing. )

Wednesday - Finalize your Negotiation

You finalize your negotiation and now work with the dealer to get your SOAT. They sell it or may give it free. Pay for your new vehicle.

Next, they will ask you for a RUNT which is the Department Transito number basically a registration number for your driving history. Ask them to go with you to the department, take your passport, and it cost 12,600 pesos, you will then take their paperwork AND your Passport go to Davienda bank, pay the fee, and return to the department and get a number to wait in line. Once in line, you receive your RUNT and go back to the dealer with it to register.

Now the next step is to pay for the Matricula which is all the registration fees and taxes to register the vehicle. The dealer again will do all that and get your plates. In the negotiation process, you can forfeit their bonus offerings and try to have them pay the matricula. Matricula is about 2,000,000 pesos.

Now the dealer will ask you what number ending on your plate would you like because you can't drive on certain days. For example, Monday ending with zero no driving between 5 and 8pm but all other days you can. It's called PicoYPlaca.

You can check monthly on which day is the restriction day for your plate.

Thursday- Get Coverage on the Beauty.

Sura insurance is a big company but in my opinion expensive. It'll cost you about 4 milliones pesos. You literally can pay half for insurance with SegurosBolivar for about 2 milliones pesos a year (500usd) which includes awesome benefits like picking you and your car up whenever and wherever you don't feel like driving.

... Or when I have 10 guests with cars at my condo, they will valet park all my cars for free! Or tow me anywhere anytime etc. I think they actually found a great way to eliminate drinking and driving: If you had too much, click the app button, and they send a driver to take you and your car home safely! Amazing idea!

Friday: Pay Balance & Pick Up the Car!

Be sure to have your wifi ready to make VOIP calls in case the card gets declined, and call your bank. Pick up your brand new vehicle!

A bit about driving:
  1. Let the motorcycles go, let them work around you. Give them space, don't go to far to the right curb and drive closer to the left of your lane.

  2. Go slow, and get to know your drive and where potential pot holes are.

  3. Don't be the leader of the pack, follow a car, then if they slow down, you slow down without damaging your wheels on a pothole.

  4. Obey the road signals. Cars generally have the right of way over pedestrians so don't be nice to let someone go, they may end up struck by the car behind you or you might get hit by stopping and being nice.

  5. On longer trips, carry a cooler with water bottles, and give them to the police at checkpoints, they really appreciate it.

  6. Don't rush, enjoy your ride, it takes time to get to places.

  7. Follow the signs on photo Radar. They will send you a ticket so get to know where they are.

  8. Don't leave your registration and insurance in the car, you get broken into and they can transfer out of your name.

  9. Get a vehicle with NAVIGATION, you will thank me! Lifesaver, turn right, turn left, etc to get home.

I hope you find this helpful especially if you're in and out of the country like me.


To Connect with Sanjay, or to ask questions about the process or buying a vehicle in Colombia, Join our Facebook Group and post an inquiry.


Join our Free upcoming Webinar to hear from our lawyer about whether buying a car can help with your visa application process.


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