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Importing a car into the Dominican Republic.

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 vehicle.

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 more.

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 vehicle clearance.

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 not.

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 Fridays.
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 people.
- Parking fee for the vehicle while at the parking lot $78 (2,500 pesos).

Grand Total $3,275 Dollars.

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