How to sell a US vehicle to another US Person in South or Central America

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#1 Sat, 11/30/2013 - 11:06

How to sell a US vehicle to another US Person in South or Central America

We finished driving the Americas a little over a year ago and we wanted to share with everyone how we bought and sold our US plated car to another US Person while in South America. The process we used was pretty easy and ended with us getting plates and title/registration legally in our name which is better than most of the other ways I've read about how to transfer ownership. This really only works for US Persons selling to other US Persons. I'm not sure if it still works but it worked for us about a year and a half ago. I hope this helps some of you!

What you will need:

* A US address where the car is “garaged” for them to mail your plates and registration to (any friend or family member with a US address will work since they don’t have a way to verify where your car is “garaged”).

* The Title of the car signed over to you. It does not have to be a South Dakota title. They will convert the title to South Dakota for you and mail it to you.

* Copy of Social Security Card. I believe there is no way to get around this unless you have a South Dakota Driver’s license.

* A valid US Driver’s License (any state).


* Go to this website and print off the “Application for Motor Vehicle Title & Registration” and “South Dakota Salvage, Recovered Theft, and Uniform Damage Disclosure Statement”. They told me I only need the latter (Damage Disclosure) if the vehicle is less than 7 years old. DO NOT submit online. Just print them out.

* With the above forms, title, and odometer reading in hand, call the Clay County Treasurer 605-677-7123

* The Clay County Treasurer will ask you several questions and give you direction: Are you a resident of South Dakota or do you have a South Dakota Driver’s license? South Dakota does not have residency requirements to plate and register your vehicle so don’t be afraid to say no if the US address you are using and/or driver’s license you are using is outside of SD. If you answer this “no” then just say “no”. Don’t say anything else or give more detail. In my case, this prompted them to understand that I needed to do everything through the mail which is what you want. Did you purchase the car from a dealer or private party? I purchased my car through my friend which is private party. I don’t know what else is involved if you purchase it through a dealer. You may have more of the form to fill out. Do you have a Bill of Sale? I did not have a Bill of Sale but they asked if there was a “Date of Sale” and “Purchase Price” on the title. Since there was on my title, they said that could serve as the Bill of Sale. It might be a good idea to get a Bill of Sale regardless just in case. What is the year, make, model, sale price, date of sale of the car? Using the info on your title in hand, your answers should match what is on your title. In order to not raise any red flags, I used the Kelly Blue Book value even though I paid more since cars go for more in South America. Then they will tell you what forms you need to mail them. You should already have them printed out according to the above step #1. It helps to have them in front of you because they will tell you exactly what parts you need to fill out. When I first looked at the registration form, it looked complicated and I didn’t know the answer to several sections (like Body Type and Weight?). When I called, they told me exactly what sections I needed to fill out which amounted to: Name, Social Security Number, Address to send the plates/registration to, and color. The rest of the form they told me to submit blank. I used a family member’s US address so when they receive the plates, they could mail them to me in South America. What is the first letter of you last name? I thought this was kind of a weird question. It turns out, they ask because depending on what your last names starts with, it determines when you have to renew your registration. My last name started with a “W” which meant I would need to renew in November. Since I registered my car in June, this means I won’t be able to go a whole year without renewing my registration. However, renewing is much easier. They will send a card in the mail to the US address you give them reminding you to renew. When you receive this, have your family member renew for you and mail it back.

* After you’ve given them all this information, they will calculate the taxes and registration fees that will cover you until the month that corresponds with your last name. I used a purchase price of $4,200 with 6 months of registration, it came to $157.26 ($126 in taxes, $21.26 in registration, and $10 in processing fees). When I renew, it should actually cost less money because I already paid my sales tax. I will just need to pay my registration which for my vehicle is more like $60 per year.

* Once they’ve told you how much you will need to pay, they will tell you what you need to send to them. I had to send the Original title (I kept a copy), the registration form, a copy of my Driver’s License, a copy of my Social Security card, and a check made out to “Clay County Treasurer”. You will send all of this to Clay County Treasurer   211 W Main St   Suite 201  Vermillion, SD 57069

* They will then tell you that your plates/registration should arrive at the address you put on the Registration Form within 2 weeks. The South Dakota title will arrive about a week after that. Then you should have the person at the US address you provided mail them to you in Central or South America.

* Once you sell the car to another US Person, both owners (the original owner and the new owner) should drive across a border together so the original owners can turn in their temporary import papers and the new owners can get the new import papers in their name (you may want to pick a border where you can change the license plates between the border crossings).