Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Tip of the Day: Considerations--Purchasing a Vehicle Abroad

Most expatriates who work, travel or live abroad earlier or later soon discover that relying on public transportation or mass-transit can quickly bring on the need for a personally-owned vehicle, unless, of course, mass transportation is not able to fulfill all needs at all times.

For those who work for a diplomatic mission, a branch of the armed forces or one of countless international organizations, you may be able to import a vehicle (either the one you own or a new vehicle) into the country of your assignment without having to pay import duties on the vehicle. 

For others who may not be as fortunate, import duties on vehicles, particularly new vehicles, can very often approach as much as 100% of the value of the vehicle or perhaps even more.

1. For those who have the good fortune to have their employer absorb the cost of not only the vehicle but the exorbitant duties as well, I respectfully ask that all purchasers avoid the temptation of buying a luxurious, trendy, flashy, upscale vehicle that every criminal on the planet wants to call "their own."

If you're unaware of what I'm referring to, here is just a sample list of vehicles I would ask that you cross off your list:

BMW, Acura, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Hummer,  etc., many of the vehicles cited on the below spreadsheet OR any vehicle valued at US$30,000-35,000 or more:

2. BEFORE you purchase a vehicle in the country to which you have been assigned first obtain a copy of the foreign government's regulations that stipulate what specifications your vehicle must have for it to be eligible for importation:

3. Armed carjacking in some countries is so pronounced that it could well be a liability to purchase a local vehicle. Discuss this potential with a knowledgeable security representative;

4. In nations where the some motorists are specifically targeted by terrorist groups and violent criminals, concerned embassies should attempt to negotiate the assignment of local license plates in lieu of diplomatic or consular tags in the interest of preventing attacks;

5. One decision that must be made early in the process is whether you intend to import your vehicle to your home country following your assignment abroad as such a decision impacts dramatically on vehicular specifications;

6. Before purchasing a vehicle for use abroad, determine in advance what types of vehicles are being stolen or carjacked in the country and avoid purchasing them;

7. One piece of reverse logic is to consider purchasing a moderately priced, yet dependable home country manufactured vehicle considering that replacing parts and components on a vehicle made at home may be cost-prohibitive, particularly if parts need to be imported.

Conversely, if terrorist targeting is a serious problem in the country to which you are assigned, then owning a vehicle manufactured in your home country may be too grave to ignore;  

8. One vehicle that almost universally seems to be abundantly stolen in the majority of countries is the Toyota Land Cruiser, largely because of its cost, payload, features, suspension, etc. For instance, if drug trafficking is a dominant industry in the country to which you're being assigned, traffickers may seek out Land Cruisers;

9. Ensure that one feature that the vehicle you purchase possesses is a remote locking mechanism from the driver's side for security purposes;

10. Compact vehicles are not recommended for developing countries, given the high risk of death in the event of a serious accident and the slowness of medical services to respond;

11. Vehicles with heavy-duty suspension and four-wheel drive is strongly suggested in countries

12. Where local law permits it, tinted windows are suggested in order to conceal the identities of the occupants of a vehicle;

13. In those countries where the security risks are described as "critical" or "high," and based upon the amount of time drivers spend in their vehicles, consideration should be given to installing a 50-watt or greater wattage radio in the vehicle for greater coverage and range;

14. In a high-threat countries, installing shatter-resistant film on vehicular windows will prevent not only break-ins, but attacks on occupants;

15.  All vehicles should have a fire extinguisher and a comprehensive first aid kit;

16.  If available, “run-flat” tires are recommended so as to enable occupants of a vehicle to drive to safety in high-threat situations; and

17. Affixing flag decals of one’s nation should be avoided, as it may increase the risk of your personal vehicle being targeted by arsonists, fire-bombers, saboteurs and other extremists.