Most Chileans I’ve spoken to so far are happy to admit that their bureaucracy is absolutely world-class, I’m happy to agree. Buying and registering our two bikes here wasn’t a terrible experience, or a particularly complex one – so don’t be afraid of doing it. But do budget a reasonable amount of time for it; it’s not something you can do in an afternoon – it took us three full days. You need a Chilean resident who has plenty of time to help you; they are needed at almost every step of the process and someone, presumably your helpful Chilean, definitely needs to speak Spanish. If you don’t have someone who is happy to dedicate time to it, or if you are in a rush, you might want to try Suzi Santiago – who offer a complete service from start to finish; for a very reasonable fee.
There are a range of good guides online (http://lmgtfy.com/?q=buying+a+car+in+chile) on how to do this for used vehicles but the process differs slightly if you are buying new. We got new bikes because the price difference between a new Honda XR150L and a used one was negligible – 1,500,000 CHP new and 1,000,000 to 1,200,000 CHP for used ones – with a few years and a lot of miles on the clock. New is new, comes with fresh tyres and consumables, a year’s warranty, two free services and three shots of Honda’s nationwide breakdown and recovery service. Worth it at twice the price. So this guide is aimed specifically at that process – I figure many bikers might be tempted by the same deal.
You’ll need a few things before you start.
- Your passport.
- Your visa, the little receipt that the immigration police gave you at the airport.
- A Chilean resident with a lot of time on their hands – make sure they bring their ID.
- A credit card.
- 85,440 Chilean Pesos
- This is made up of…
- 15,000 Notar Fees
- 35,000 SOAP – Statutory Insurance
- 34,000 Vehicle Registration Fee
- 2,500 Permission of Circulation – Emissions Paperwork
- 440 Reprint of Ownership Document
Step One – Stuck in a RUT
Your first stop will be at the SII office local to where your friendly Chilean lives, they’ll know where but Google does as well. Throughout this process you will need them to be physically present. All government offices in Chile use a “take a ticket” queuing system for all real work, but on this visit you’re just picking up a form – go to the information desk and explain that you need a RUT number as a tourist, in order to buy a vehicle. It doesn’t seem to be a very common request, so you could also ask for form F4415. This should be the form for you to fill out plus some notes attached to the back.
Take your form and head to the local Notar, it’s basically a rapid-fire private legal office where for a fee they will create approved copies of documents or validate contracts between people. They’re busy places and the time between taking a ticket and getting served was, in our case, about three hours – so get there early if you can. Now take out your form and fill it in carefully; if you’re not Spanish or otherwise double-barrelled in your name leave the “Maternal Surname” blank – or you’ll cause confusion later. Don’t sign the forms yet – you need to do it in the presence of the Notar – that’s in part why you are there.
Once your number is called explain what you require and hand them the forms, the attached information that came with it tells them what they need to do. At the same time hand over your passport and visa to have them take a copy and validate it. Your Chilean friend will also need to have a copy of their ID made and validated, if you are getting more than one RUT number you’ll need as many validated copies of their ID as you have people needing a RUT number.
Bring your notar-approved forms and documents back to the SII office, take a number and wait until you are called. Keep in mind that they close at 1400 every day; if you get there before 13:40 you will be served. If you get there any later the doors will be locked. If everything has worked they will process the forms, stamp them and issue you with your SII number. You’ll either get an eRUT password, which (apparently) you can use to log in and print out your own ID card or if that system is down (which it was for us) make sure they give you a formal RUT printout; you will need it further down the road. Your number should look something like 12345678-9.
Step Two – Buy Something
We’d already done this bit online, at least as far as paying for the bikes. Through Horizons Unlimited I was put in contact with the eminently helpful Juan and Genesis at Procircuit Manquehue; who were happy to get two bikes ready for us to speed things along when we arrived – but you could probably go shopping around. This is where you first need that magical RUT number – they can’t officially sell you a bike without you having a RUT; once you have one it’s all plain sailing at the dealership – they print and sign a few forms and you’re good to go. You don’t need any help from a local with this part.
You’l get the invoice, a green certificate of conformity, a temporary ownership document and the keys and be on your way. You’ll then have five days to finish the registration of the bikes, during which time you’ll feel a little naked – as you’ll have no number plate!
Step Three – Registro Civil
The Registro Civil is a different building from the SII, your Chilean friend should know where it is but Google does as well. Your friend will be coming with you again for this step, as they need to sign some forms as well. You’ll need to hand over all of your collected documents, the important ones being your passport, visa, the invoice for the bike, and your RUT number – either from the website or an official print out. If everything is in order it’s a very quick process, they do all the forms and computer work and you just hand over your 34,000 CHP registration fee. They’ll give you a number plate and another temporary ownership document. The formal ownership document (padron) will go to your Chilean address; but you don’t have to collect it there – give it a fortnight for them to process it and you can pick up a copy at any Registro Civil.
Step Four – Permission to Circulate
You’re nearly there. One more step and one more government office to go. This time you’ll be googling the local Municipality office and you do not need your Chilean friend with you.
What you will need, though is a SOAP. No, not because the stress of all this paperwork has you sweating like the Finnish Sauna Championship. It’s your statutory insurance and is required at this last stage in the process. If you Google “SOAP Chile” you’ll find countless comparison sites and Google Translate will keep you on the right track with the wording. We used soapok.cl for the comparison service and the insurer was securopro.cl. The prices change all the time but the cover is the same, so no reason not to go with the best deal. All you need is your registration plate and a credit card. The only thing to watch out for is that SOAP is renewed for everyone at the same time every year, so make sure you get a policy which is valid now – not one that starts with next year’s SOAP cycle. We were able to get both this year and next at the same time. Once you have the cover document print it out and you’re good to head to the Municipality.
This one was the quickest step for us; we handed over our passports, the temporary ownership document from the Registro Civil, the invoice for the bikes, the SOAP and the certificate of conformity that came with the bikes. A 2,500 CHP fee later and you have a “Permissio de Circulation” saying that you’re good to go.
Update – Papers Please
The final step, which we had not completed at the time of writing, was to get the Poder – ownership document – reprinted at the Registró Civil. You need to do this because the original will have been sent to your Chilean friends address, where you probably are not! This was a piece of cake, it took all of a few minutes and cost only 440 pesos. We’ve since crossed two borders with Argentina without trouble.
In some sense I have outlined an idealised version of the process above. We made some mistakes, we did not get copies of our ID documents made at the Notar and had to go back, which cost us a day. There was an issue with my RUT number which I still don’t understand what the issue was. Overall though it’s pretty straightforward and it’s all very proper; I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I was expecting some stereotypical South American chaos and it couldn’t be further from the truth. When I come to write about the trip itself I am sure I will delve in more depth into how my expectations of this country did not quite match the reality but for the sake of this article – it’s genuinely not a process to be scared of.