Getting a vehicle through customs and out of port in Montevideo, Uruguay
If it’s before 5pm you can go back to the Buquebus entrance, right past the door of customs (where you went before), and ask to be let in to go to the “Salón de Pasajeros” of the Buquebus building.
You have to go to the entrance with the turnstile gate, where it might get a bit tricky. All locals need an “Orden de Trabajo” or some other identification to get past this point. You can only get the “Orden de Trabajo” after you have been to the “Salón de Pasajeros”! I could not convince the person at the entrance and hence was sent in circles several times, which probably added 8 kilometers of extra walking and 2 wasted hours to my endeavour). I also read somewhere, that you can apply in advance (in writing) to get an entry permit for port, but I have no contact details for this.
Your reason to go to the “Salón de Pasajeros” is that you need a seven digit “Numero de Viaje” to proceed. The process here differs significantly from what’s familiar to locals (and the security guards), because locals get this number from customs in the main building, (then their “Orden de Trabajo” in the main ANP right after they have paid), whereas tourists like you and me get it from a customs officer in the Buquebus terminal.
The office issuing the number in the Buquebus terminal is behind immigration within the duty free zone, but this area is more or less securely locked and difficult to get into. There are more customs offices on the top floor of the “Salón de Pasajeros”; to find them head from the entrance to the corner diagonally to the right, next to last little glass box shop. Hidden in the corner is a small white door with a bell (timbre), which you have to ring. Ask for assistance, and if the guy issuing the “Numero de Viaje” isn’t away for lunch (as happened to me) somebody will call him or take you to his office. In my case this customs officer, although well into his late 50s or early 60s, didn’t know the process either and wanted to send me back to main customs, so I had to remain insistent until he called somebody for help, who then had to guide him on the phone through all steps – my luck!
Important hint: if you happen to deal with anybody fairly competent along the way, be it at the transport companies involved, at customs, or at ANP, get their name and phone number! I had a whole list of phone numbers in the end, and whenever I was stuck I made the person in front of me ring the relevant contact number I had. This helped several times… I also used an official customs officer during several steps, who wasn’t on counter duty (I met him by going into the wrong door), but spoke good English, assisting me with finer details; I asked all these people for their phone numbers too.
With the “Numero de Viaje” secured you’re almost done! From here onwards it gets easier. You walk for several blocks westwards (or inland) through the port, between rows of containers on your left, some storage units on the right, and lots of smelly trucks in between, until you reach a 3 storey dirty beige building with a row of trees in front. Next to this building is a round red brick tower with the ANP emblem on top (though: this is facing the main road). Enter through the main door and walk up two flights of stairs to enter the office 206 on the east side of the building. Here somebody will finally issue your “Orden de Trabajo”, which you’ve been asked for several times before. But this person can only do so with a valid “Numero de Viaje”.
Got everything?! Good! You can finally go and retrieve your vehicle from the storage depot. In my case this was ATM, who were another 4 (or so) kilometers down the port towards the west. I walked outside the port, always following the wall until I reached the next main entrance gate, opposite the shiny glass high-rise, which looks a bit like a sail (free trade zone). After Dubai it seems that now every port needs a building like this… Walking through port would have been shorter (as I found out later), but a zigzag between truck traffic. ATM is on a dirt lot straight down the entrance road, a bit to the right from this port entrance.
The ATM office is in a yellow painted shipping container. If you’re lucky like me they check all papers and say “perfecto”, you receive your keys and go to your vehicle. This might be a good time to check for obvious damage, and scrutinise all locks for signs of attempted break-ins.
Finally you’re sitting behind the wheel, key in the ignition, and the last tension “will she start?”
Happily you rev the engine and roll slowly eastwards, because there’s still one more step to complete. You have to go back to the Buquebus terminal, drive into the gated parking lot and park at the back of the building. Find a customs officer, in my case the same one as previously, and have your “Salida Temporia de Vehiculos” filled in. This is the same document you will normally receive when entering via any land border, and you need to guard this as well as your passport! With this paper you are permitted to leave the vehicle in the country for 12 months. In my case it was a quick affair, no check of the vehicle, only a transfer of numbers (cross check, if everything is okay), and then they wished me a good journey.
I had heard that some people were required to leave port via one of the large vehicle scales, I asked if this was the case and was told only rarely, so I was allowed to drive out through the main Buquebus entrance and join the traffic of Montevideo on Rambla 25 do Agosto.
Appendix: the next day I met some travellers from Berlin, who had arrived as passengers with their camper on the same ship. For them the process was easy-peasy: drive your own camper off the ship, hand your documents to an agent (no extra charge), receive your “Salida Temporia de Vehiculos”, and within less than 2 hours you can drive out of port. Most importantly: no landing charges, no fees to Uruguayan port authority, no running around. The monetary savings easily equals the price of a passenger voyage for one person from Europe to Uruguay!
Do you have any questions? Or what was your experience to get your travel vehicle released from the port?
Please use the ‘Comments’ below to let us know!
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Several readers recommend Eduardo Kessler as custom agent for clearing containers; you can engage his services for RoRo landed vehicles too!
Piedras 509 of. 106
UPDATE February 2016
Angelo Magrino, one of our readers, sent us several small updates. Thank you!
All information as copied from his comments:
The new address of the KMA, agent of Grimaldi, where you have to pay the “Descarga” (for my Defender it was 599 usa dollars cash) and hand over the 5 copies of the BoL is as follows:
25 de Mayo 713, Piso 9
Tel: +598 2909 1412.
Upon the receipt of the 599 usd is written where your vehicle is parked (but I saw that all the vehicles arrived and those departing were in the same parking lot) in my case: UTILAJE DEP. 23 and their offices are in a double 40″ yellow container.
Not sure if the fee payable to the Administracion Nacional de Puertos in Rambla 25 de Agosto No. 160 (a few hundred meters from Aduana) depends on the weight and value of the vehicle. Entering the large hall you have to go to the last office on the far right. Here they told me to write the value in US dollars of my vehicle and put my signature. I wrote 10,000 dollars, but nobody asked me the weight and no one wanted to see the documents of my vehicle. Another overlander, with a different car than mine, declared $ 7,500 and paid the same: $ 426 cash . There is no written my name or the license plate of my vehicle on the two receipts of $ 426. Here I’m talking about cars, not trucks or camping cars.