Importing a car into the Dominican
Importing a car into the Dominican Republic can be a difficult task, sometimes
making buying a car a simpler alternative. If you choose to ship your car to the
DR there are a few things you need to know ahead of time. Be aware that the
process can be painstaking at times, so have patience, and keep good records in
order to make the process as smooth as possible.
As a new resident you can bring in a car at little or no duty if you have owned
it for two years, and it is less than five years old. You can bring in a brand
new car if you pay duty on it, and you cannot bring in a car older than five
years old under any circumstance.
To export an automobile from the US the Customs regulations are as follows:
If you are a Dominican citizen you must have lived abroad for a minimum of two
years. The size of the vehicle is limited to no larger than 2000 cc, and a
maximum of six cylinders. Luxury vehicles are not allowed. The vehicle’s owner
must be present at customs in order to receive the vehicle, and you are only
allowed to bring in one auto, and the vehicle must have been owned/registered to
the owner for at least one year.
In the United States obtain the original title, certified by the Department of
Motor Vehicles, and then legalized by the nearest Dominican Consulate. Obtain
the original registration for the previous three years. Also, you must have a
residence visa, an original Dominican Consular invoice stamped at the nearest
Dominican consulate, an original drivers license, the license plates, and a
valid passport. Make sure you have copies of all these documents.
On the Dominican side, you must find out the tax imposed on your particular
vehicle. Contact the Dominican Customs Office (809-688-7070 Ext. 289,) and tell
them the vehicle make/model/year. They will tell you the tax to be paid for your
vehicle upon arrival. These rates change as the exchange rate changes, so you
might pay more or less depending on the day. 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, or Honda Civic, etc. There have been cases of
people having to pay excessive charges because the specific year of a brand is
not listed in the system, and the vehicle was taxed at the rate of a similar
The shipping company will charge an average of US$2,000 for shipping a vehicle
depending on size. Montero Shipping, for example, charges this fee for shipping
a vehicle. It includes the consular letter and certification by the Dominican
government. Also, the vehicle will be shipped in a container, as opposed to
being shipped in the open ocean air on a cargo ship.
If you want to use your residency and the one year rule* you must get the
history of title certificate and registration certificate from DMV (around $20).
This is to show that you’ve owned the vehicle for over a year.
DR Law 168 is the importation law for vehicles, and under this law you are
allowed to bring one personal vehicle that you have owned for more than one year
in your respective country, at a heavily reduced import tax. Anyone, (Dominicans
and foreigners) can use it as long as they are making the DR their home. This is
why they require the title record and registration plate history. Another thing
about Law 168 is that you cannot sell your vehicle for three years after you’ve
brought it to the DR. Also, you have to wait another five years to invoke this
law again on another vehicle you wish to bring.
Ley 14-93, Articulo 13 establishes that you are entitled to scaled discounts on
the taxes to be paid, if you are a new legal resident (that is you have secured
your Residence Permit). 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%.
It is advisable to use a customs clearance agent, but try to have all
calculations done BEFORE you bring the car. The charge is about $10,000 pesos,
around $310 US dollars. Remember that customs can be a very corrupt department.
Even if you have everything in order, they can look for ways to make you pay
Also, agree to a price for the services with the Customs broker prior to
shipping the vehicle. Ideally, you should choose an agent with experience in
Sometimes, an agent might tell you about many problems they’ve encountered
getting the car out, and that they had to bribe a lot of people, so they ask you
to refund that cost, though you have no way of proving whether it is true or
Take all the paperwork from the shipping company and send it to your customs
broker to do the initial legwork. If you let the shipping company send the
papers themselves then you would have to have a power of attorney for someone
else to receive the paperwork for you in the DR.
Once you get to customs in the Dominican Republic you have to purchase the right
to the interview for 300 pesos. Also at exonerations, Aduanas no longer accepts
papers on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The new days are Mondays, Wednesdays and
Caution: These days might change without notice.
Make sure you have photocopies of your last and most recent passport, cover to
cover, to include blank pages. Also, have copies of all original paperwork.
Aduanas requires originals and copies. A lot of people are sent away because
they do not have these papers.
Note: Many people who ship their vehicles through smaller or less organized
shipping companies have problems with their manifest because their vehicles are
shipped under the name of the shipping company, and not the owner. In order to
save money some people choose to ship their vehicles with less reliable
companies, and their vehicles can take up to three months to arrive, and can be
subjected to the elements on the cargo ships. If you decide to ship with a
smaller company you might have to pay an extra US$ 2,000 dollars to ship your
car in a container, which is highly recommended.
Here is an example of the costs for the recent shipping of a vehicle, a 2001
Ford Explorer. Use this example to get an idea of how much your importation
might cost. Remember, this list is specific to this vehicle at a particular
time, costs are subject to change at any point, and you might incur extra costs
as the process moves on, so be ready for that.
List of Costs for a 2001 Ford Explorer:
- Title and registration record $22 dollars by phone/internet.
- Shipping and consular paperwork $1,600 dollars.
- Customs broker $310
- Tax and fee on the vehicle $1,263 dollars at a 32 pesos exchange rate.
- Fee for the right to the interview $9.40
- Macuteo (shakedown) money at the port $15, (480 pesos) for 4 or 5 different
- Parking fee for the vehicle while at the parking lot $78 (2,500 pesos).
Grand Total $3,275 Dollars.
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