Shipping our Camper to South America
Procedures in Colombia
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The following procedures can be done in one day if your start early!
- Before you even leave town make sure that you carry the following items with you
- money in Colombian Pesos; at least $250 in Pesos, some (or better lots) in small notes - you will need change for taxis and copies!
- your passport
- your vehicle title (original)
- all documents related to the shipping (copies and originals) from Panama, even if you don't need them...
- if you come past a copy shop get 2 photocopies each of your passport (photo page) and the Colombian entry stamp in your passport (which is actually a computer imprint), and your vehicle title (you will need them for step 3)
- and something to drink and snack on - you'll be grateful. Maybe even a book to read whilst waiting at offices...
- Take a taxi to "Muelle Del Bosque", where you obtain your "Bill of Lading" from Seaboard. Opening hours 8:00 - 11:00 and 2:00 - 5:00. Taxi should cost around 8,000 Pesos, maybe 10,000 from the centre of the old city.
- Get a second taxi into Manda. It should cost around 6,000 Pesos going there, 5,000 return (no road fee). If you already have your photocopies (see step 1) head straight to the DIAN (Direccion de Impuestas y Aduana Nacionales) office at the entrance to the Port of Manda (opposite a large TEXACO station) - don't follow the written instructions from Seaboard and don't go to the main DIAN office / Barrio Manda! The office, you have to go to, has been moved. If you don't have photocopies then ask the taxi driver to stop at a copy shop along the way. You will need them now! At this office they will issue a Temporary Vehicle Import Form (Formulario De Importacion Temporal de Vehiculos) and assign a customs inspector; make clear that your vehicle is at "Muelle Del Bosque", otherwise they might assing an officer at the Manda port you're at!
- Take another taxi back to "Muelle Del Bosque", where this time you have to go to the Document Centre (Centro De Documentos, open until 6:00) of the Port Authorities. If you don't have an original of your "Bill of Lading" yet (happened to me) retrieve it on the way from Seaboard - you can't do anymore without it! At the entrance you have to hand over to security some form of identification and are issued with an electronic pass-card; it's better to use your Drivers License because you might need your passport. There you have to request a Customs Inspection and pay your Port Fees (at the bank counter), which in my case was a little over 220,000 Pesos, but can be as much as the equivalent of $400.
- Now you have to head over to the Operations Centre to verify the exact location of your vehicle (somehow I skipped this step and it didn't matter, but I guess this would be the time to drive your car out of a shipping container). To get to it you need to go into the port area and walk up in direction of the gate past the Seaboard office; for this you will have to go through another security check (with your pass-card) and might be issued with a hard hat. Photo of the office see step 8.
- Go back in direction of the Document Centre; on the other side of the drive way is the office of the DIAN inspectors, where you have to find the customs inspector which has been previously assigned to you (at step 3) and guide him/her to your vehicle for an inspection. The inspection (in my case) was very easy going; the inspector didn't want to check more than the number plate and VIN number. You will be issued, at the office, some more papers (basically the same as in step 3, plus a few extra signatures, and an inspection report).
- With this inspection report you will have to take another taxi back to "Barrio Manda", (~6,000 Pesos) this time to the main office of DIAN, which closes at 5:00, where you need the signature from the "jefe" to complete the Customs Release Forms (Levante). For this step you will need 3 sets of photocopies (on top of the ones you had used earlier in the day, but basically the same), including some of the inspection report. There are copy shops diagonally (to the right) across the road from the entrance gate of DIAN.
- Now that you're so good at getting the right price for your taxi trips (next: 5-6,000 Pesos) it will be your last one back to "Muelle Del Bosque" to the Document Centre, where they will take all the papers you have collected all day, re-shuffle them, take a few more copies (you don't have to pay for), and finally issue a Vehicle Exit Form (Planilla De Salida Del Vehiculo). This you have to sign 9 times and verify with 9 finger prints. They will also give you your copies of the Temporary Vehicle Import Form and Customs Release Forms (Levante), which you will need to exit the country.
No wonder there aren't any trees left at "Muelle Del Bosque" (Pier of the Forest) with all the paper they're using...
- With this you go, through the inner security check for a second time, to the Operations Centre to collect your keys and pick up your vehicle.
- According to the list given to me by Seaboard this should have been all, but no: you have to find the vehicle scales close to the exit (Salida) and get another stamp on your Vehicle Exit Form before the guard at the gate will even look at you! He then checks everything, asks his supervisor through his radio if you really are permitted to go, and with luck you can leave the port!
- STOP!!! Don't forget that the second time you entered the Document Centre you had to leave a piece of ID! Park on the side of the road, go in and collect your identification document before you drive off into the sunset!
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