Santiago de Chile Car Buying

In advance we tried to inform us about buying a car in Chile. Unfortunately, I found almost no information. As is well known, everything is possible. With our poor Spanish, this is quite an exciting matter. But with the following instructions actually no witchcraft. But you should bring some time with you, and in South America it’s money or time.

If you are now sitting on the couch and think a trip to South America should be it and you would like to be on the road preferably with a van or car, then you are exactly right here. Because renting doesn’t pay off after two to three months at the latest and buying is cheaper. Here I have written an actual guide for you, which contains all relevant information after the long Corona break.

Step 1: The best thing to do is to start searching for the car you want while you are still at home. That means determine brand, car type and year. The kilometers are secondary, because first of all the distances are much further than at home and secondly a car, no matter how old, is almost always repaired. To start with the search, I recommend I have had the best experience using it. There are also and in Chile and some online stores of car dealers.
Step 2: Determine your purchase budget. There are two ways to buy a car. The first is to buy in a car dealership and the second is through a private individual. For cars under 10,000 dollars, it is difficult to buy from a dealership, so is the best option for bargain hunters. You also need to know that the car dealers do not sell cars older than ten years old, because everything that falls into this category is not allowed on the streets in Santiago one day a week in the winter, because of the pollutants that are emitted. I will go into more detail in the next steps about buying from a private person because that is what we did ourselves.
Step 3: You need for the legal purchase of a vehicle a Chilean tax number the so-called RUT inversionista extranjero. The best place to apply for this is Santiago. Theoretically it is also possible in neighboring cities. Everyone had warned us that this could take forever in Santiago. But after two days it was delivered online by mail. There is also the regular RUT that every Chilean citizen has, but this is not needed for the purchase. To get this number you need a Chilean person to vouch for you. This means that it is good to have a friend in Santiago who can go with you to the notary and help you with the process of getting the RUT. For this you can ask for example the nice man at the reception of your hotel or write to a Couchsurfing host or a nice person from Warmshowers and ask. That’s how we did it and it was very successful. Besides the papers we were able to do, it resulted in a wonderful friendship and great conversations. To apply for the RUT and go to the notary you will need the following:

– Clave Unica from the Chilean native
– Power of attorney from the Chilean native for the guarantee
– Certified copy of the carnet of the Chilean national                                                                                                                                                                                                      – Certified copy of your passport
– Bank statement of your account (as far as I know, it is not absolutely necessary, but it can help the process in some situations).
After going to the notary, you should have all these documents in your hands. Notaries always add the fingerprint to the signature.

Step 4: After you have submitted all the documents from the notary and the guarantor online to the SJI, you have already done the first part. Now comes the interesting part and that is the car purchase. For me personally the better part. So you have found your dream car on and the owner has contacted you, then make an appointment for the inspection and a test drive. If you have a little knowledge about cars, this will certainly help. Most Chileans don’t tell you that much about the car, you discover most of it by yourself, remember some points to find arguments to push the price. We as Swiss are used to push the price neatly, here it worked a bit less well. But you can still bargain down a few hundred dollars. Remember that in Chile a word is not a word as it is at home. Only contracts and receipts will help you if something doesn’t work out. In addition, not everyone has a conscience and will increase the price after negotiating for more dollars. This is not to say that everyone is like that, but it just needs to be said. After you have done the classic negotiations, there are two ways to sign over the car.
You go to the Registro Civil e Identification and do the transfer there. There is about 10 dollars for the work. But it takes a lot of time and nerves. It can easily take a day. The advantage is that you get your papers immediately and don’t have to wait for ages. The Registro Civil is located in every district of Santiago, choose a good one, best in the “Las Condes” district, there you have the best chances that the lady or the gentleman at the Registro Civil is motivated to make this transfer. Because with our purchase this was not possible, because she simply had no desire. Because the data must be entered manually and can not simply be registered online.

The second option, you go to the notary. This costs 125 dollars with everything and takes less time. A small hint. Leave the fingers of the notary “Notaria Gloria Ortiz Gomez” there we had only bad experiences. Again, look for a good notary and maybe ask in advance if he is used to do these transfers. This will help you the most until the end. When you have done the transfer, you should have the following documents in your hand:

– Certificado de Inscription R.V.M in your name
– Autorizacion traslado vehiculo motorizado
– Permiso de circulación with the name of the previous owner
– Révision técnica with the name of the previous owner
– Seguro obligatorio with the name of the previous owner

On the last three documents in the list no name changes! Only in the following March, after you have paid, you will receive the documents with your name.

The most important document is the “Autorizacion traslado vehiculo motorizado” without which you cannot leave the office. This is what you need to leave the country. Everyone will tell you that by the time you want to go to Argentina, for example, the transfer will be done. Unfortunately, the reality is different. We waited more than three months, made many phone calls and wrote emails and it was still not done. And without this document and if your name has not been adjusted yet there is no chance to leave. We have experienced this. After more than three hours of waiting you are back in Chile and you can’t get out.

Step 5: You now have a basic insurance on your vehicle and it only covers damage to other people’s vehicles. You can continue to make additional insurance at Every year in March you have to take your vehicle to the Tecnica inspection. This is possible from the first of March. Unfortunately not in advance. The revision Tecnica costs about 14 CHF. After you have received the documents for the coming year, you can take out the liability insurance online and pay directly. We bought ours at BCI for about 9 CHF. With the document of the revision Tecnica and the insurance you go in the city in which you are in the Municipal building and ask for the Permiso de Circulation. There you will receive the most important and last document for the successful completion of the inspection and registration of your vehicle. The Permiso de Circulation costs about 40 CHF.
Further we have basic things like oil change, filter change and all fluids renewed. This certainly makes sense, because everyone tells you that they did this, even though the two year old oil is still in it. We had the change done at Copec and that was easy to book the appointment online and then one hour and that was done. Another little tip. Always take your car documents such as registration, insurance, vehicle registration with you as the most important valuables. You can leave the sales contract etc. in the car. Because these are your most important things on the car, so to speak. Ah and one more thing on the side. Almost every car in Santiago has a small device on the windshield that automatically charges you when you drive on the highway. You can get these at any kiosk. You can also use the time in Santiago for all organizational things, drive on the side road and then buy a day pass for the day on which you leave the city. You can also get this at the kiosk or even online.

Step 6: Go out and discover the great Chile and the surrounding countries. To be on the safe side, ask after a few weeks if the override has been completed.

If you have any questions about buying a car in Chile, don’t hesitate to contact us via email or Instagram. We have put quite a lot of teaching money and time into this topic and don’t want to let every car buyer make the same mistakes in the future.

Domi, January 2023