Importing Guatemalan car to the US

16 posts / 0 new
Last post
#1 Sat, 01/28/2012 - 14:38

Importing Guatemalan car to the US

My boyfriend and I have been living and working in Guatemala for two years.  We have decided to drive around Central America instead of heading directly home.  We have purchased a Toyota 1991 pickup with a camper in Guatemala and are going to go to Panama then do a u turn and come back up. 

Is it possible to drive back into the United States?  Has anyone done this?

What would it be like to try to import a Guatemalan - or other foreignly purchased car - into the United States.  Is this possible?  Would it be cost prohibitive for the import taxes?  Would they require a lot of fixing it to get up to emission standards?

It is months ahead, but it makes a difference in buying insurance and planning our route... thanks in advance for any guidance! 


Sat, 02/25/2012 - 23:20


Hi sorry to bother you did you find out anything im trying to do the same with a car i got in guatemala i wanna bring it to the states ....

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 18:49

no information yet

no i haven't gotten any information.  we have started our journey so as soon as we figure out what to do i will post it. if you learn of anything let me know too please.

Thu, 03/15/2012 - 03:57

Guatemala Car

Hi...  The most important is that you investigate the VIN#, that vehicle orginally was imported to Guatemala from the USA (you see them coming in by the hundreds at the borders).  Most of the vehicles are clean - not stolen, but if you arrive at the US Border , they will check the numbers, and if it was reported stolen in the USA, it will be confiscated and you will be charged... please check this first.

Thu, 03/15/2012 - 16:21

where is the vin#

thank you for that advice trektraveler!

where can i locate that number? (it is not on our documents) and where do i verify in advance that it has not been stolen?


Thu, 03/15/2012 - 16:40

VIN number

The VIN should be visible on the driver's side dashboard as well as several other locations.

Read more about VINs, what they mean, and where you can find them:

If you google 'VIN check' you should find a bunch of sites that will run a VIN check - some may charge a little. 

Fri, 03/16/2012 - 08:51

vin found!

thanks so much for this help.  i have paid for one of those quick searches and it turns out the pick up was salvaged in missouri back in 97.  does this mean that the car can become american again?

Fri, 03/16/2012 - 09:38


I think it means the car was either totalled at some point or some other major (bad) thing happened to it.  But that doesn't mean you can't drive it now - just that insurance didn't think it was worth fixing - you can read more here:


Sun, 04/15/2012 - 17:09

Of course this is possible,

Of course this is possible, you just have to make sure you have all the permits you need to bring this car in US. You should check for more information with the American Embassy in Guatemala. When I bought my first car in a foreign country it even had a car insurance Ireland quote that remained active.

Mon, 04/30/2012 - 15:47

If this model is/was

If this model is/was available in the US than it shouldn't be a problem, BUT if this model hasn't been sold in the past in the US (like a HZJ Landcruiser) you can not import it unless it is more than 25 years old.

Tue, 05/01/2012 - 10:19

Hi Guys, Could you guys

Hi Guys,

Could you guys give me some information about buying a car in Guatemala? Is it possible to buy a car as tourist in Guatema? Which are the best ways to look for a car ( any particular web sites ) ? Are there any trusted mechanics that yo know of?

Thanks in advance

Tue, 05/01/2012 - 13:54

buying car as a tourist

I am not sure if a tourist can buy a car in Guatemala.  We had a special working visa while we were there and had an address.

If you don't speak spanish it would be really hard. 

If you do...

1. I would look for a car on the side of the road in any town.  Or look for a tourist that is selling one.  There are cars all over.  I don't know of any websites.  Cars and trucks are more expensive in Guatemala than they are in the US just so you know.

2. Talk to an "abogado" or lawyer.  In all towns there are people who help fill out the paperwork to change the names of the owners.  We had to have a special number called a NIT.  They might not give NITs to tourists.  But you will have to talk to a lawyer to find out.

3. Set aside a day at least to get all the paperwork signed over to yourself.  At all the border crossinings they have asked to see that the car is in our name.

Good luck.

Wed, 05/02/2012 - 07:24

Buying a VW Bus in Guatemala

Hey Laura,

My girlfriend and I are looking to do the same.  We would like to buy a VW bus here in Gueatemala, drive south for a bit, then head back to the states.

How is the proccess coming along for you guys?  Have you purchased the car yet?  

Let me know, and shoot let's meet up!


Thu, 03/31/2016 - 13:01

I tried driving my toyota

I tried driving my toyota from Panama to Mexico and ran into trouble in Southern Mexico of all places. Ended up having to ship it with the following people: If I hadn't done so I may have lost my truck!

Sun, 01/01/2017 - 11:11



this is an old thread but has anyone got current information about shipping a Guatemala car to the USA.

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 03:58 (Reply to #15)

the only basic requirement to

the only basic requirement to import a car/truck/suv to the US is that the truck has a VIN number (17 Digits), that its not stolen (or reported as such) and that the vehicle is 25 years or older. This law only applies if you plan to bring the car and register it here in the US, but if you're passing by then there's no need to do anything besides showing proof of ownership and that your name in the passport matches EXACTLY the name on the registration card of the car/truck/suv, also i believe you're required insurance to pass by but im not 100% sure, i know you'll need insure to register the car here in the states.