Purchasing and receiving the vehicle
This is a work in progress, and things will change as I remember them. If you have any corrections, please tweet @ryanshripat. These instructions are based on my own experience and you take full responsibility for your actions. I admit no liability for anything untoward that may happen as a result of you following these instructions. For more information about me, visit my homepage.
- Get a TTConnect ID. Check their website for details.
- Enroll on the e-tax site
- On etax.ird.gov.tt, login with TTConnectID and navigate to Letters > Advice of BIR & Acct# and request one.
- Get a Credit Card from the bank with a USD side with a limit of at least half the value of the vehicle you want to purchase. If you want to purchase an $8,000 USD car, make sure you have a CC Limit of at least $4,000 USD. Otherwise be prepared to do a wire transfer, something I can't advise you on. I've heard of instances where SBT accepted 4 payments to complete the purchase, so you can enquire.
- Get a customs broker. Message me and I'll send a contact.
- Setup a PayPal account and attach the credit card to it.
- Create a login on sbtjapan.com (you can't see all the cars unless you're logged in). Select a car. A sales agent will contact you very soon. Let them know you want to pay using PayPal with two or more payments.
- Let the Customs Broker know when you're ready.
- Once you've paid, certain documents will become available for you to download from the SBT site or emailed:
- Caricom Invoice
- Once the car is put on a boat, the Bill of Lading
- Once the car is on a boat, they'll courier your original docs to you (they used DHL for me). Sometimes, you'll also receive the spare key, or an SD Card to unlock the deck. You can start tracking the boat online using a site like Vessel Finder or Marine Traffic.
- With original documents in hand, contact the Customs Broker, and they'll give you some forms to fill out, including the application for an Import License (my memory could be bad here).
- A week or two before the vessel arrives, you'll receive an Arrival Notice via email from a representative of the local Agents, for example, Norton Lilly T&T Ltd. This will take the form of a Bill of Lading with a stamp on it saying
Arrival Notice. Forward this to your Customs Broker.
- The Customs Broker will meet you at the port about 5-6 weeks after the ship date, or 2 to 3 days after the estimated arrival date on the Arrival Notice, with a Cover Note (temporary insurance).
- See the section below for the next steps.
You're almost there! It's exciting to have your new vehicle in hand, but you still have to register it. This is what happens after you receive your vehicle at the port.
- You'll drive without a License Plate to VMCOTT to do the tyre inspection. For this, you'll require at least documents 11, 13 and 15 in the List of Documents below.
- If your tyres are worthy, you'll be given 3 copies of the TTBS Certificate of Inspection (Document 14).
- Head down to Licensing Office. I like the head office at Caroni.
- Go to the RORO Officer. At Caroni, this is located at the end of the long corridor to your left when you enter.
- Speak with the receptionist, then sit and wait in the seat provided.
- Once you see the RORO Officer, they will check all of your documents, send them down to Inspection Bay 2, and inform you what day you should come back for them to verify the chassis and engine numbers on the vehicle. If you're lucky, they will tell you to come the same day.
- Prior to bringing the vehicle, make sure to clean off all markings placed on the windscreens during the shipping process. If you don't, an Officer may take you out of the line and send you to the car park to use your fingernail and spare hand sanitizer to remove the paint. Dish soap and water with a dish sponge worked for me, but not very well.
- Find out where the engine number and chassis number are for your model of vehicle. Use chalk or brake fluid and a flashlight.
- Drive to inspection Bay 2 and wait your turn. An Officer will confirm that the engine number and chassis number on the car corresponds to the documents (these will be the documents the RORO Officer kept after your visit with them).
- Ask the Officer when you need to come back to pay. This may be a day or two later.
- When you come back to pay, you have to get the attention of someone close to the cashier, and let them know you're there to get your RORO documents. They may point you to a folder on a counter with many registration documents. The chassis number will be printed on the front page, but if you don't remember that, look at the second page for your name.
- If your document is there, you may join the Cashier's line to pay $120.
- When you collect your receipt from the cashier, ask them when you need to come back to get the License Plate Number. This may be as soon as the next day.
- On the specified day, head to the "Registration" Counter. This is on the right at Caroni. Show them your receipt, and they will let you know if they have your Certified Extract with the License Plate number.
- Purchase a Cover Note from one of the offices immediately outside of Licensing Office, and drive down with your new vehicle to get plates.
- Drive to your proper insurance provider and get real insurance.
- You're done!
List of Documents
There are approximately 745,000 different documents you need for this process. Fortunately, I have them all listed here, showing where you ought to get them from ("Source") and for whom they are to be presented ("For").
|Bill of Lading (First Original)||Vendor||Customs Broker||Customs and Excise keeps the First Original. A softcopy should be available from the vendor.|
|Bill of Lading (Second Original)||Vendor||Customs Broker and Licensing Office|
|Export Certificate (Original/Japanese)||Vendor||Customs Broker and Licensing Office||A softcopy should be available from the vendor.|
|Export Certificate Extract||Vendor||Customs Broker and Licensing Office|
|Invoice ("Pro Forma Invoice")||Vendor||Customs Broker and Licensing Office||A softcopy should be available from the vendor.|
|CARICOM Invoice||Vendor||Customs Broker and Licensing Office|
|Application for Import License||Customs Broker||You||The Customs Broker will make you fill out and sign this form. They drop off the application and collect the Import License for you.|
|Import License||Customs Broker||Licensing Office|
|Ministry of Finance (MoF) Customs & Excise (C&E) Official Receipt||Customs Broker||Licensing Office||9, 10 and 11 are stapled together.|
|MoF C&E Assessment Notice/Declaration Reference||Customs Broker||Licensing Office|
|MoF C&E Form eC82 Additional Information Page||Customs Broker||Licensing Office/TTBS (Tyre Inspection)|
|Records of Payment of Motor Vehicles Tax||Customs Broker||Licensing Office||Two copies received from CB, filled out in triplicate. Customs probably keeps one copy.|
|MoF C&E Form eC82||Customs Broker||Licensing Office/TTBS (Tyre Inspection)||"Certified True Copy of Original" plus a stamp|
|TTBS Certificate of Inspection (Tyre Inspection)||TTBS||Licensing Office||3 Copies: Copy for Licensing, Purchase, Importer|
|Receipt of payment for Tyre Inspection (RBL Deposit Slip)||Customs Broker||TTBS|
|Vehicle Delivery Note||Customs Broker/Port||?|
|Cover Note||Customs Broker||You|
From my terrible memory, with full attribution to Cheyenne Ramesar on the local Aqua Club Facebook Group
|Tyre Inspection at TTBS, VMCOTT||$97.83|
|Bill of Lading (via broker?)||~$250|
|Government fee (?)||$40|
|Customs Broker fee (?)||$2,000 - $2,500|
Shoutout to Shiva Ramdeen