Once we were settled in Asuncion, we decided to buy a car.

Buying a car in Paraguay is more complicated than buying a car in the UK. In fact, it’s a little more like buying real estate!

In the UK you just give them the money and sign the registration. That’s it. Except that you have to send the registration to the driving vehicle licensing authority.

In Paraguay, you have to hire a lawyer!

You will remember that the escribana in South America is an attorney. Once you find the car you want and decide to buy, the seller takes the title document, called the Escritura Publica to an escribana. Incidentally, it’s really important to be sure you are using a competent escribana. We can recommend one if you need help. The escribana’s responsibility involves being certain that there is a clear title on the car. We have heard of people waiting months for their documents because of problems with the title that the escribana had missed.

You must provide a picture ID. Your passport or cedula works just fine. The escribana verifies that the seller has clear title and that there are no liens or other claims on the vehicle. It takes about ten days for the escribana to check the title, prepare the contract, and prepare for the transfer.

In our case, once the escribana had prepared the contract, we visited the office along with the seller. All parties had to be present to sign the documents. It was at this point that we paid for the car. We were able to pay by bank cheque. This is not always possible. Many people in Paraguay, including professionals, do not have bank accounts. Therefore, it is not unusual to have to pay for large purchases, including cars and real estate, in cash.

The fees for transfer of the vehicle came to 2.000.000 guaranis, or about $ 500 USD. This figure includes all the government registration fees and the escribana fees. These fees are customarily shared between the buyer and seller.

It takes 4-6 weeks to receive the documents. We received the seller’s registration document , which is called a green cedula, the habilitacion which is the car tax, and a receipt for the vehicle. We were required to carry the receipt in the car until we received our own green cedula and Escritura Publica, which shows that we own the vehicle. The green cedula, habilitacion and insurance card have to be carried at all times in case you are stopped by the police.

Another aspect of the purchase procedure that is different, is getting insurance. We had to show the receipt to the insurance company for the vehicle once we had bought it, rather than ringing and arranging the insurance to commence at the time of purchase. We also had to take the car to the insurer’s offices to be photographed and inspected by them. When the insurance certificate is issued you must carry that in the car as well.

In Paraguay, if you allow another person to use your vehicle when you are not accompanying them, you must give written permission. The permission must include their cedula number. The document must be authenticated by an escribana to ensure  that it is honoured by police.

You may import a car into Paraguay up to 10 years old. You will be charged duty on the vehicle. If the duty is not paid, you are issued a brown cedula instead of a green cedula. Then you have to carry that cedula in the vehicle until the duty is paid. When the duty is paid, and you apply for the green cedula, you must again get the signature of the previous owner who sold the vehicle to you. If you cannot find that person you will need to commence legal proceedings and the previous owner will eventually be summoned to sign the documents. This is a frustrating and expensive procedure.

It is common to see cars with no registration plates. This is because they have been newly imported into Paraguay and are waiting for their first registration in this country. We have been told that sometimes you are required to have the vehicle inspected by the municipality before it can be registered. Some municipalities have very thorough inspections, while others are much more superficial in their nature. In that case, it is also necessary to have this inspection done each year prior to re-taxing the vehicle.

Our thanks for this week’s article go to Jean, a contributer who lives in Asuncion. Jean’s blog is at http://paraguayrelocation.wordpress.com.


This week in our regular newsletter we sent a detailed description of current events in Paraguay over a possible political move for power. We have several expats in Paraguay. One of them, Glen Roberts, lives part-time in Uruguay and part-time in Paraguay. He sent us this slide video of photos that he just took in a small town outside Asuncion. We thought you might enjoy it. Incidentally, the news about Paraguay would not keep us from visiting there. In fact, I plan a visit soon and hope to post pictures and information about the country. In the meantime, if you are interested, you can see Glen’s video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THe6l7QA6l0

We encourage your comments and suggestions.

Copyright 06/25/2012 Four Flags Journal all rights reserved.