To cut a story short: Don’t try to buy a car in Argentina if you want to cross borders!!!
The problem occurred for us as we wanted to ski and travel for 4 month in Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru and therefore needed a reliable four wheel drive to cope with the bad roads and harsh conditions. We thought that the best solution would be to buy a car in Buenos Aires where I have lived and studied for the past year.
As I have a transitory visa for Argentina and am an official resident, I thought that buying a car should not be a major problem and was affirmed of that by various authorities. Nevertheless it’s an impossible rag rug of laws, regulations and misinformation from many different sides that gave me a hard time. So here are the hard facts (valid as of July 2011):
- Everybody (resident or not) can buy a car/motorbike in Argentina with their CUIT (tax number for residents) or CDI (something similar for non-residents)
- Only residents (Arg. citizens or residents with temporary or permanent visa and DNI) can cross borders with a car (some customs-regulation).
- Foreigners can not leave the country with a borrowed nor their own car (not any form of permission eliminates this regulation)
- Foreigners can cross borders with officially rented cars and a written permission by customs
In the end we’re renting a Ford Eco Sport for our skiing in Argentina and Chile. How will we continue our journey up north? Still don’t know, but it will most likely be by public transport and hitchhiking.
For renting, best you get a lot of quotes with local agencies as the prices differ heavily
Another possibility (for those on the other side of the border) would be to buy a car in Chile where regulations permit it to leave the country and cars are much cheaper.