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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Planning For Toys

We are in the final days of our life in Argentina and amongst the going away happy hours, despedidas, and last-conversations with people, the questions always arise, what will you miss and what are you glad to leave behind? The list of things we will miss is long and I'll attempt to tackle it in a future blog post, for now, I'll let you in on something that we are glad to leave behind: The price of toys.

Before we had children, I listened to people talk about the expense of having children here and thought, how bad can it really be? I listened to expats talk about how they had to bring all of their children's supplies from the US and thought that they were exaggerating. Then we had children, and I realized how ridiculous the prices actually are. Enjoy these examples:

Or take this 4-pack of molding dough (aka Play-Doh). The low, low price of AR$479 (US$60). You can buy this pack of 24 larger containers off of Amazon for $16.

Have a new baby, your infant can enjoy this baby play mat for AR$2,790. That's only US$350. For an INFANT.

Pink car, made of all plastic, no electric parts or batteries necessary. The doll is not even close to the size of a real child, even a small one. So, it's a medium sized plastic Fiat for - drumroll - $5,999 pesos. At the national exchange rate, that is US$750. Even at the slightly-illegal-blue-market-rate it's still US$600. I can't image these are flying off the shelves.

So yes, toy prices and child items in general are not one of the things that we will miss about Argentina. And I have joined the ranks of those that say you need to purchase most things you want for your children in the US and smuggle them back in your suitcases - though the airlines are making this more and more difficult with the baggage restrictions. One huge relief with our move is that we know that there is the possibility to purchase items that we need for the kids without taking out a second mortgage on our house - and they'll deliver them to our home for free thanks to Amazon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Selling Your Car in Argentina

We lived in Buenos Aires for two years before we felt the need to purchase a car. The bus system in the city is fantastic, and if you live near the subway you have even more public transportation options. One of the greatest factors in deciding to buy a car was our daughter; it is tough to get a baby - plus the necessary accessories – onto public transportation easily. Knowing that we were planning for a second child, the car made life much easier when we eventually needed to travel with our two, and it gave us freedom to explore outside of the city on our own schedule. This being said, I still believe you can comfortably live in Buenos Aires with no car, though I am thankful that we decided to bite the bullet and buy one when we did.

Now that it is time to leave, we need to sell the car. And as we have come to find out, this is a prime example of inefficient Argentinean process. Of course you cannot just sign over the title and call it a day – that makes far too much sense. You need to go through a variety of steps, none of which are easily identified, and all of which take time. I started with a blog post from The Last Tango in 2011 which let me to a guia de tramites on the Presidencia de la Nacion website, which was helpful in identifying the documents needed to sell the car. It was not as helpful in figuring out how to complete the documents or where to take them. So, here are a few more details - here is what we did:

Before you have a buyer: 
  1. Find your closest Police station that performs validation checks for a Verificacion Policia (referred to as a Formula "12"): http://www.pfa.gov.ar/default.asp?p=verificacion. No appointment needed, just bring your cedula verde (the green card that has your name and details about the car), DNI and the vehicle to the police station. Park outside, wait in line, pay AR$95, wait in another line, pay another AR$10.50, bring the car inside the station and have the police verify that the engine and chassis are original. Once verified, you go to yet another window, get stamped and you have clearance to sell you car. This check expires after 90 days.
  2. Verify that you have no outstanding traffic violations/tickets associated with the car Libre Infracciones. You can perform this check online, though to make it official, you must print the verification letter, take it to a Rapipago location and pay AR$58. This expires after 90 days.
  3. Visit the DMV that your car is registered with, it should coincide with your address in Capital. The DMV location number will also be listed on the top of your title, Registro Seccional. They will give you a Formula 08 which needs to be signed by each person who's name is on the title (and their spouse if the spouse is not a title holder), in front of a DMV employee who will stamp and certify the signature(s). This also has a cost associated, it's somewhere around AR$100 per time they need to certify the form. Bring the DNI of each title holder along with a copy. Note that ALL DMV locations are open from 8:30am - 12:30pm every day. That's right, you have a FOUR HOUR window to get this done - or nos vemos maƱana.
  4. As a buyer, they will want to see your Libre Deuda patentes, which is just proof that you have paid your yearly taxes/fees on the vehicle. 
Once you have a buyer:
  1. Visit the AFIP website and fill out a CETA. In order to complete this form online, you must have a CUIL and a Clave Fiscal with at least a Nivel 2. I had a tough time with this one, even with all of the log in information, and the step by step instructions - finally I went to an AFIP to ask for assistance, they have public computers available so that you can complete the form right there. I still had to ask for help. Twice. To complete the form, you need the full name, CUIL, DNI of all persons that will be on the new title, and the selling price of the car.
  2. Figure out how they are going to pay you, in what currency and how to get the money in your hand or bank account. Sometimes this includes wearing a big jacket with lots of pockets and looking like a Columbian drug lord. I think this is what happens most times.
After all of the paperwork is done, buyer and seller are ready to go, you give the buyer the following completed forms:
  • Verificacion Policia aka: Formula "12"
  • Libre Infracciones complete with paid receipt
  • Completed Formula 08
  • Printed CETA
  • The car's official title
  • The cedula verde, which is the little green card that functions as a mini-title. 
The buyer then goes to the DMV associated with your car with this folder full of papers, completes their portion of the Formula 08 (completing it in front of a DMV employee to get the official stamp), and the Certificado de la transferencia to have the title reprinted with the buyer's name(s). The new title takes a few days to complete, they buyer returns to the DMV to pick it up, then they drive away with your car. 
**NOTE TO BUYERS: You now need to go with your new title to the DMV that corresponds to your home address and register the car - but that is where my knowledge of this step ends. We never did this. Oops.

Simple, right? Ha! All in all, it takes time, patience and perseverance to sell your car. Don't let it wait until you're a week away from leaving Argentina, between power outages, computer system fails, rain, closed offices, strikes, etc, etc, this can be a VERY lengthy process. It took us two weeks and after asking around, we were extremely lucky.