My Guide to Importing a Foreign-Used Car into Trinidad and Tobago.

Ryan Shripat, Software Developer.

Overview

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.

  1. Get a TTConnect ID. Check their website for details.
  2. Enroll on the e-tax site
  3. On etax.ird.gov.tt, login with TTConnectID and navigate to Letters > Advice of BIR & Acct# and request one.
  4. 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.
    UPDATE: "As a result of the ongoing challenge with foreign exchange availability, effective immediately and until further notice, you can only use up to a maximum of US$15,000 or up to your credit limit if your limit is less than US$15,000, per statement cycle. This change does not affect transactions on the TT$ side of your account." See Credit Card Notice on RBL's website (h/t Omari Felix)
  5. Get a customs broker. Message me and I'll send a contact.
  6. Setup a PayPal account and attach the credit card to it.
  7. 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.
  8. Let the Customs Broker know when you're ready.
  9. Once you've paid, certain documents will become available for you to download from the SBT site or emailed:
    1. Invoice
    2. Caricom Invoice
    3. Once the car is put on a boat, the Bill of Lading
    You can download and print these documents - the Customs Broker can now start their process. They will ask for the originals later.
  10. Once the car is on a boat, they'll courier your original docs to you (they used DHL for me) as well as the spare key. You can start tracking the boat online!
  11. With original documents in hand, contact the Customs Broker, and they'll give you some forms to fill out, including the Import License (my memory could be bad here).
  12. The Customs Broker will meet you at the port in about 5 weeks, with a Cover Note (temporary insurance). You'll drive without a License Plate to VMCOTT to do the tyre inspection, and you'll then carry all the documents with you to Licensing Office at Caroni.
  13. In about 2 weeks, you'll be able to collect the Certified Copy with your License Plate Number on it. Go make the plates, and get proper insurance. DO NOT DRIVE WITHOUT INSURANCE OR A COVER NOTE.

Fees

From my terrible memory, with full attribution to Cheyenne Ramesar on the local Aqua Club Facebook Group

Item Value
Tyre Inspection at TTBS, VMCOTT $97.83
Bill of Lading (via broker?) ~$250
Government fee (?) $40
Licensing $120
Customs Broker fee (?) $2,000 - $2,500

Contributors

Shoutout to Shiva Ramdeen