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Does it make sense to import a car into the DR, or is it better to buy locally?
Consistently over the years, new residents have told DR1 that if they could do it over again, they would have bought their vehicles in the DR and avoid the import hassle that can be very frustrating and time consuming. 
There are only very few circumstances under which bringing in your own car are recommended:
You are a diplomat and your car is 100% tax exempt. This is a flawless, regular expedite procedure.
Your company is fitting the bill for importing your car and will be handling customs for you.
You hire a customs clearance company that for a fixed fee will import the car and deliver it to your doorstep.
Your car registration has been at least two years in your name and you are a legal resident, or a Dominican returning after at least two years abroad.

How can I find out how much in taxes my car will pay?
The Customs Department has most brands of cars in a computerized database with the prices they will tax your vehicle for. It is customary, though to hand out 20 pesos here and 200 pesos there to speed up the process. Recent experiences show the actual taxing is straight forward, and there seems to be no corruption in regards to this value. You will pay based on what the computer says.

If you want to find out how much you would pay call Aduana at 688-7070 ext 239 and ask for Mary in the Valores Department that is located on the 7th floor of their main building on Mexico Avenue in Santo Domingo.
It is best to check with the department prior to bringing in the vehicle to reduce the possibility of an unpleasant surprise.
Note that while most brands are in the system, some years of well known brands may not be listed. Thus it is best to bring in a car of which there are hundreds on the road in the DR. For example, Toyota Camry or Corolla, a Honda Civic, etc. There have been cases of persons having to pay in excess because the specific year of a brand is not in the system, and the vehicle was taxed at the rate of a similar vehicle. 

What about the law that allows duty deductions on cars for new residents?
If you are a new legal resident (that is you have secured your Residence Permit), Law 14-93, Article 13 establishes that you are entitled to scaled discounts on the taxes to be paid. Deductions that will be made to the values established in the computer for your brand and year of vehicle are:
One year with the registration in your name: 20% deduction
Two years with the registration in your name: 30%
Three years with the registration in your name: 40%
Four years with the registration in your name: 50%
Five years with the registration in your name: 60%. 

Can you tell me what tax my personal effects and household goods will pay?
Law 168 of 1967 authorizes new legal residents and Dominicans who have lived abroad for at least two years to bring in their household goods tax free. You will pay hardly any taxes on household goods and personal effects (or nothing at all) if you go through the process of getting your residency prior to arriving condition. The process is not as complicated as that of importing a vehicle, and is recommended. Note that not all items are exempt, and some items will be taxed if they are in excess of what the bureau considers normal for a household. 

The law specifically establishes that duty free treatment for personal effects and household goods. Equipment used for work purposes, such as dental or medical equipment and computers are also exempt. The equipment needs to be used, but most of the time, new household goods that do not come in their original boxes, are allowed through. The foreigners need to declare that they will be living permanently in the country. The tax exemption also applies to Dominicans who have lived abroad for at least two consecutive years and return to establish their permanent residence in the country. Note that this privilege is only granted once in a lifetime.

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