How to buy a Car in Paraguay as a Foreigner?

As I continue to refine my plans for the trip through South America, I of course also have to think about how I will get around. To be independent I need a car.

With a girlfriend and a small child it has to be a bigger car. For maximum flexibility on the South American continent and fewer forced stays in mud holes, I also want a four-wheel drive vehicle.

It can’t be that hard, I think. Many vanlife nomads travel between Alaska and Tierra del Fuego. One of them must want to offer a usable car. I don’t really care where I buy the car. Our journey begins wherever I find the car.

It can’t be that hard – or can it?

In fact, I’ve been looking for a long time. You can find my experience looking for a car here: HOW TO BUY A CAR IN SOUTH AMERICA AS A FEOREIGNER.

In a Facebook group I finally meet Esteban Gordo (Whatsapp +595 991 214682) and his offer for a 1996 Toyota Hiace with a high roof, sink, lots of seats, a bathroom and four-wheel drive. The offer sounds interesting and we do business. I’m flying to Asunción in Paraguay and having a few things rebuilt. The complete process of buying the car consists of the following four steps:

  1. The formal purchase
  2. The registration
  3. The title transfer
  4. The insurance
Esteban Gordo on Facebook

How does buying a car work in Paraguay?

Purchasing is easy. We contact a notary and draw up a contract with the conditions. The notary issues Esteban and me an official document as a sales contract according to Paraguayan law. Complete. Since we have already given the notary the conditions over the phone, the process on site only takes half an hour and consists of checking the document for the desired conditions and signing it. The notary fee for this service is $30.

Now the car must be registered with the responsible municipality.

How does car registration work in Paraguay?

You have to wait in a long line to register the car. At the Municipalidad de Lambaré you show your purchase contract and have the car inspected. That can take a whole day. However, the inspection is often skipped and it happens quickly. In return you will receive the document of registration of the car in your name.

There are other registration offices in Asunción, but there is relatively little going on in the Lambaré district.

The good news is, you can “hire” someone to stand in line for you and do this inspection for you while you’re having fun in the city. This service will cost you 3-5 USD. There are people standing in front of the building just waiting to make money this way.

Registration including inspection costs the equivalent of around 17 USD.

You must provide a residential address when registering. You can enter any address you want, because no one will care! You will receive a small white card with your details and a sticker for the windscreen showing the year of validity.

Registration must be renewed every year!

With the registration in your pocket, you can now go back to the notary to have the registration transferred to you.

When you register, you will receive a registration card and a sticker for the car

How does the car’s registration work?

The notary also takes care of the title transfer of the car to me as the new owner. The description For this he charges a fee that depends on the desired shortness of time. The shorter the time, the more expensive it becomes:

  1. Transfer of title within a week: 600 USD
  2. “Normal transfer” within 4-5 weeks: 300 USD
  3. If you are in a hurry, there is the option of obtaining a temporary registration for the car, which will allow you to leave the country after just 3 days. The registration will then take place in your absence and must then be delivered to you by DHL. In this case, you will pay USD 300 for the normal transfer and a fee of USD 130 for issuing a temporary border crossing document. Esteban also offers to drive the car to another country!

These prices may vary for different vehicle classes and depend on the performance, size and age of the car.

When the registration is complete, you will receive the title of the car and a green card, the “Cédula Verde“, as a document in addition to the white registration card.

How is the car insured?

You can look for private car insurance or use government insurance. There is insurance that covers all countries of the “Mercosur”:

The Carta Verde also called Mercosur certificate or uniform policy is an important document for drivers wishing to travel to member countries of the Common Southern Market (Mercosur), consisting of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

You can simply go to an automobile club such as theTouring y Automovil Club Paraguayo and provide them with your Cédula Verde, your passport and an address. As I said – no one checks when or how long you actually live at an address.

You can also go to other automobile clubs. If you travel to other countries such as Bolivia, Peru or Chile, you will have to get new insurance at the border. In my experience this went smoothly.

Another overview as an example

All prices may vary for different vehicle classes and depend on the performance, size and age of the car. These prices are current as of 2023 and may change in the future.

Notary: purchase contract (document: contract)~ 30 USD
Registration & inspection by “assistance” (document: white registration card)~ 20 USD
Notary: transfer of the title on site within a week (document: title and Cédula Verde)~ 600 USD
Mercosur insurance for 3 months (document: Carta Verde)~ 125 USD
Sum:~ 775 USD

If you have any further questions…


Can I just do everything online from home?

The notary can prepare all documents remotely, so all you have to do is pick up the key to your car.

For this, the notary charges an additional fee of around $50.

Where can I find a car?

I have written a guide here: HOW TO BUY A CAR IN SOUTH AMERICA AS A FOREIGNER. If you are still looking for a suitable car, take a look here. Dusty has completed his journey with me and is now waiting for me to have time again or for a new adventurer to set off with him.

Or contact Esteban. He can help you find a car and would even bring it to you in another country!

How do I transfer abroad?

This is indeed a challenge that you are spared if you as an EU citizen buy a car from another EU citizen, the same applies to you as an American or Canadian. There are a few options, such as direct transfer through your bank, Revolut or Paypal. But you have to expect high transfer fees. In my research, the cheapest option was to use Wise. I used the app in the Playstore for this.

Important tips for driving in Paraguay

  • You must drive with your lights on
  • You must have a small fire extinguisher in the car
  • You must have a warning triangle in your car
  • The police are corrupt and will happily use any of the above reasons to rip you off
  • Check out my experiences in the blog: DUST OF THE WORLD: MY TRAVEL DIARIES FROM PARAGUAY

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  1. Gavin says

    Greatly informative! Thanks for the write up.

    1. Alexander says

      Thank you for your feedback, Gavin!

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