FAQ: Can I Ship A Vehicle That I Still Owe Money On

Sunday, February 11 2007 @ 09:58 PM UTC

Contributed by: Don Winner

Question: We are currently working on relocating to Panama and would appreciate it if you could confirm or deny whether we are allowed to ship an automobile into Panama that we are still making payments on? If not-do you know the proper folks to address this issue?

Answer: Excellent question. I got some feedback from a couple of people to answer this. According to Kevin Bradley, "Don; Several of my Expat clients have shipped cars to Panama with existing loans. Before the auto left the USA, I had to provide proof of full coverage with a Panama licensed Insurance company to the Bank or Credit Union. The policy was required to have an endorsement designating that financial institution as lien holder. Each year, I have to provide the lien holder a copy of the renewal until the loan is paid off. Kevin Bradley" (more)

And From David Ferebee: What paperwork do I need to ship my car? U.S. Customs requires that the original certificate of title must be presented to U.S. Customs as proof of ownership before your car can be exported. Bill of Sales and Notarized Certificate of Titles are no longer accepted by U.S. Customs. There is a lien on my car, can I still ship it? First you will need to ask permission from the owner, the lien holder. You will need to obtain a notarized export permission letter from your lien holder to export the vehicle. Second ask your local D.M.V. (Dept. Of Motor Vehicles) for a computer generated print out of your lien record. These original documents have to be presented to Customs. Where can I find out more about U.S. Customs export rules and regulation for cars? You can read more about export rules and regulations for cars at the U.S. Customs website. Sounds like they should be talking to their lender first to see if they will allow their asset to leave the country then to whoever is shipping their household goods next for more specifics on what documentation they will require to put the car in the container. Hope this helps. Yours, David Ferebee

So, It Can Be Done: There are insurance issues to consider, as well as customs issues. The standard answer is that it almost always makes more sense to sell your car in your home country and buy a new or used one that's already here. I've run into several people who have said "I shipped by car down, and that was a big mistake." Personally, I would suggest that you sell your car, pay off the loan, and fugitaboudit...

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