A MOTORBIKE MAY JUST BE THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY WITH WHICH TO EXPLORE THIS INCREDIBLE CONTINENT, THOUGH THE PROCESS OF ACTUALLY BUYING ONE MAY PUT SOME PEOPLE OFF. HERE, I GIVE YOU SOME PRACTICAL INFORMATION WHICH WILL HOPEFULLY MAKE THE WHOLE THING THAT MUCH SIMPLER AND STRESS-FREE.
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about how to plan for a motorbike trip round South America, and various considerations that should be taken into account. It only occurred to me recently that the article was missing perhaps the most important bit of information- how to actually buy a motorbike if you are a foreigner in Chile.
While the process seems to be much easier and simpler than in many of Chile’s bordering countries, it can still be at times very confusing. It involves a considerable amount of paperwork and going to various offices with certain bits of said paperwork, in a way that many foreigners (well, for me at least) may well find perplexing and unnecessarily complicated. Fear not, however, as only in the last few days I managed to obtain all the necessary paperwork to render my bike fully legal, and I will now dispense this information to you, with the aim of making at least someone’s life that little bit easier.
Step 1 – Getting a RUT
Having a RUT, or Rol Único Tributario is very important. It is a unique tax number, and it is necessary in Chile for everyone who wants to buy a motorbike. Thankfully, this step is very easy and painless. You need to go to an office of Servicio de Impuestos Internos with your passport and tell them you want a RUT to buy a bike. You will need to give an address, but anywhere you’re staying is fine. There are three or four of these offices in Santiago. You will be issued with a piece of paper with your RUT number on it, and can return three months later to pick up your card.
Step 2 – Finding a bike
There are several websites in Chile that are very good for buying and selling second-hand bikes. The best ones are Chileautos, Portal de Motos, and Demotores. If you would prefer to buy a new one (and by the way, prices of bikes depreciate very slowly, so you may well be much better off buying new) the best place would be Calle Lira around where it meets Avenida 10 de Julio Huamachuco. Normally discounts will be offered if you pay in cash.
When searching for used bikes look for ones advertised with papeles al día. This means that the papers are fully up to date, and will save you a lot of potential hassle later on. Papeles al día will include seguro obligatorio, certificado de revisión técnica clase B, certificado de emisiones contaminantes (if the bike is less than three year’s old these last two will be replaced by the homologación), and permiso de circulación.
Step 3 – Buying/registering the bike
Before proceeding, just double-check that the person selling you the bike is the same person listed on the padrón (the certificate of ownership). If everything is in order, you are ready to proceed.
You now need to go to a Notaria, which is essentially a quasi-lawyer with the vendor to complete the transaction. The Noratia will charge around CLP$25,000 for their services and you will have to pay this.
Next pay the vendor, and receive your copies of the Contrato de Compra-Venta, and pay the Notaria, along with the 1.5% tax on the agreed price of the bike. (I paid around CLP$58,000 in total for fees and taxes for my bike which cost CLP$700,000)
The Padrón should be sent to your address within a couple of weeks, though I went to the Registro Civil with the Contrato de Compra-Venta in order to receive the Solicitud de Transferencia, which acts as your temporary ownership document until you receive the Padrón.
There is also a document called the Permiso de Circulación which usually expires around the end of March. If you need to renew yours, go to the municipality office with the old permiso de circulación, seguro obligatorio, certificado de emisiones contaminantes, and revisión técnica (or homologacion in place of the last two). Your papers are now fully up to date and you’re ready to hit the road!