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A Guide to Shipping or Buying a Car in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is the Caribbean island paradise that has been kept a secret by Americans. It has year-round lovely weather, a vibrant Hispanic culture, and a relatively affordable cost of living in comparison to other U.S. cities. The numerous tax incentive programs in Puerto Rico also offer substantial savings. However, one drawback is that driving is difficult to avoid in Puerto Rico. Because of the island’s inadequate public transit system, particularly outside of San Juan, autos are typically the only dependable mode of mobility. For those immigrants to Puerto Rico who are keen to benefit from Act 60 Export Services or Investor Resident Individual tax incentives, the following question arises: Should you purchase a new car on the island or ship your current one?

There are many things to take into account in relation to this conundrum, including the age and condition of your car as well as its adaptability to Puerto Rico’s hot climate and rough roads. If you were going to buy a new automobile soon anyhow, now is the time to do it. Choosing a brand-new local vehicle may be in your best interest if you have a fine, new car in the United States that you don’t want to get damaged in Puerto Rico.

Any salt on your car from the salted roads in your home country of a northern climate with snowy winters could cause future rusting in sunny Puerto Rico. Furthermore, if your automobile has leather seats, you should avoid driving it to the island because the heat from the sun will cause the leather to burn you when you sit down in it. Of course, costs must also be taken into account.

Puerto Rico Car Purchase vs. Shipping

First things first: both options will probably cost a lot of money. If you ship, you will also be responsible for an import tax, which is determined by the value of the vehicle you are shipping. Once you pick up your vehicle in Puerto Rico, there can be additional unstated charges. Don’t anticipate American rates if you purchase because dealerships import their vehicles and charge customers for shipment. In addition, you’ll be responsible for Puerto Rico’s exorbitant sales tax.

Shipping a Car

The price of shipping a car to Puerto Rico varies greatly depending on the origin, the carrier, the make and model of the vehicle, as well as if you drive it to the port yourself. Most people who are in possession of an Act 60 decree can move their car to Puerto Rico for between $1000 and $2000 in shipping costs. The import tax, however, which can be as high as $4,000 or more, is not included in that. Excise taxes that are more reasonable tend to be around $1,000 or less. You can calculate your approximate cost by adding these numbers together, but keep in mind that Hacienda’s pre-import estimations are not always accurate. On the ground in Puerto Rico, additional expenses, such as a $75 processing charge, can also be necessary.

Buying a Car

Americans are frequently astonished while shopping for a new vehicle at a Puerto Rico-based dealership because, in general, the price of any vehicle in the United States might be increased by $2000-$5000. Many Act 60 decree holders accept the hefty import tax to transport their autos to the island from the United States because of this exorbitant pricing. There are alternative possibilities if purchasing from a Puerto Rican dealership is out of your price range.

You can either purchase a used vehicle from a private seller or purchase a new vehicle from a dealership in the United States, such as one in Miami, and have it sent to Puerto Rico on your behalf. Clasificados, a well-known classifieds website, is frequently used by people in Puerto Rico to look for used cars. If you do decide to purchase a used vehicle, you will be required to prepare the bill of sale yourself and have the transaction notarized; the entire transaction will be handled in Spanish.

Puerto Rico Car Shipping Process

Even though it can be less expensive, shipping a car to Puerto Rico is a more complicated process. You must first get your automobile ready for delivery, which may entail emptying it of everything save a spare tire and a jack or letting the petrol tank go down to less than a quarter of its capacity, depending on the company. If your car is financed, be prepared to provide the transporter with your title and specific clearance from the bank.

Depending on the company you pick and where you start, shipping can take anywhere from five days to two weeks. The most challenging part is when your car reaches Puerto Rico’s coastline; be prepared to navigate the maze of red tape that awaits you.

Puerto Rico Car Pickup

After it has been shipped, retrieving your car can be a challenging task. An Act 60 decree-holder should call the relevant port first, ask for the automotive division, and make sure the “tasación” is finished on the vehicle. This is a record that is made by officials who examine your car and is required to pay your import tax. Additionally, call to confirm when you get the email notifying you that your car has arrived at the port because sometimes people get the email notification before their car has actually arrived.

You must travel to the port and wait in line at the necessary office to obtain your official excise tax document, which is required for the payment of import taxes. You might need to show a guard inside the building your ID and license so they can make a nametag for you. After giving them your booking number at the window when you arrive there, they will give you your papers if your tasación is successful. You have the option of paying in person or online after you receive the document.

Method to Pay

The easiest method of paying is by far online. The only requirement is to enter onto SURI, which Act 60 Export Services decree holders may be familiar with for their company taxes, or Act 60 Investor Resident Individual decree holders may be familiar with for the contribution tax return they must file for their yearly $10,000 donation, and make the payment when requested. You will be guided through the procedure and given documents as proof of payment by the port officials.

The alternative is to pay in person. As soon as you have your documents, you can visit Hacienda or, if one is available, a store close to the port that costs a $75 processing fee. If you visit Hacienda, be prepared to wait in line for at least an hour and have cash on hand. You will receive your payment receipt after making your purchase, which you should take back to the port to pick up your vehicle after going through security again.

Return to the port and stand in line once more to present the staff with your receipt. After confirming that you have paid your taxes, they will release your car and give you a slip. You can now enter the parking lot, where you will need to search through a large number of automobiles to discover your car. Once you locate your car, you can get in and drive away—as long as the path is clear—because your keys will be inside. You might need to contact the personnel for assistance moving other vehicles if they are obstructing your path. Show the guard your slip as you eventually drive out of the parking lot. Finally, you’ve got your car back!

When you pick up your car

When you leave the cargo lot in your car, the bureaucracy doesn’t stop. Before registering your automobile, make sure to get temporary insurance to cover you, and once that is done, make sure to get your license plate and registration. You will receive a number when you register your vehicle, which you must renew every year. Once all of that is done, it is advised to also get a Puerto Rican driver’s license.

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