Temporary Import Document for South America – What Is It? Do You Need It?

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Originally published in 2012 / updated in September 2017

Note 1: This information is for people who are traveling with their private vehicle (not a rented or borrowed vehicle; additional paperwork may be required but I don’t have that information).

Note 2: Your car papers have nothing to do with your visa, and vice versa. You can get one month for your visa and three for your car, for example. Each country has its own office to deal with either visa (Immigration) or temporary import document issues (Customs) and one may hardly know the other exists.

For South America you don’t need a Carnet de Passage. On all South American land borders, you will get a Temporary Import Document and, at the time of writing, none of the South American countries charged for this.

Read More: Carnet de Passage – What is it & Where do You Need it?

Validity of about Temporary Import Document (TID)

How long your vehicle can stay in the country depends on the country’s law, and sometimes the border official’s mood. You will find specifics about this in our country reports.

Situations change. This Facebook Page of Overlandsphere is a good one to check up on latest info – note at the top of that page how Overland Sphere has a number of subpages on continents/topics, which you may want to check out as well.

Extension of the Temporary Import Document (TID)

Depending on the country, you can’t extend at all or only once (if very lucky, twice).

Read More: Country Reports

What Do You Need to Bring

Bring the following when entering a country or asking for an extension:

  • Passport of the registered owner of the vehicle.
  • Driver’s license (International driver’s license facilitates bureaucracies; note that for Brazil you need a specific one).
  • Car papers.
  • Third party insurance papers.
  • We’ve been advised often by other travelers to bring copies of papers but thus far we have never had to hand over one single copy.
  • We believe it never harms to get a shave and dress properly before hitting the border.
  • Some borders add another level of red tape in the form of Sanitation Police and Laws, notably Chile.

Tip: Be patient (bring a book), be polite, bring a smile and make friends. Most border crossings are easy going.

This information may be outdated. What are your experiences? Please share them with us in the comments below so other travelers can benefit from them. Thanks.

More Country Reports:

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Thank you for your support — Karin-Marijke & Coen

8 thoughts on “Temporary Import Document for South America – What Is It? Do You Need It?

  1. Hi! Thanks for all the v useful info Karin and Coen – most helpful.

    Quick Q – I will be joining my son in Bolivia – we have purchased two honda 250cc bikes from a local honda dealership in Bolivia and intend traveling through Peru, Ecuador on our way to Columbia. I see from your site that third party insurance is a requirement when crossing borders – is this true for all the countries mentioned above and how would you suggest we go about this…? Approach the dealership to arrange third party papers maybe…or any other ideas…

    Regards miles

    • Hi Miles, Great to hear about your plans. We hope you’ll have a fantastic time traveling around this mind-blowing continent! As to third party insurance, it is a requirement for all countries. In most cases you can buy one near the border (first town/city). There are also third party insurances that cover several countries. However, information does change in this respect. To get updated info on where to buy your insurance, check out https://www.facebook.com/groups/panamtravelers/. Hope that helps.

  2. Hello! Great article – we’re shipping our 4WD into Argentina in just a few weeks. I’m trying to be as prepared as possible and have currently got the original and copies of our vehicle’s current registration (ie permission to drive on Australian roads) and of the vehicle’s registration transfer advice document (providing it was sold to Kevin, my hub). Aside from obtaining vehicle insurance as we journey along, what other ‘car documents’ might we need? Thanks!

  3. Hi…really such a wonderful website with wealth of information. Hope you guys are enjoying your South Korea Trip. I plan to ship my RHD vehicle to Montevideo to start my South African adventure in 7 months time. Would there be any issues entering chile from Argentina or through other borders in a RHD vehicle? Any advise would be helpful.

    Thank You

    Bacchus

    • Hello Bacchus, as you know our Land Cruiser is LHD and as such we don’t have first hand information about crossing borders with RHD vehicles. There have been a few fellow travellers that have had troubles at the Chilean border, and most have not. But if you connect one of the following groups on FB, and use the search function: OverlandSphere or panamtravelers you are sure to find your answer.
      Adventurous greetings,
      Coen

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