The Sale of Trevor's Motorcycle

Just one week ago, Dave sold his motorcycle without much incident. Shouldn't be too bad for Trev too, right? Right.....

Fred, the Belgian who was buying Trevor's bike, showed up in Santiago on the date promised. He test rode the bike, like what he saw, and the deal was on. No problems so far. The next part - making the sale official - is divided into two parts. One part is the legal transfer of ownership, and the other part is transferring the "temporary import permit" to the new owner. One week earlier, Dave had done "part one" using BC registration without any issues because he was selling to another Canadian. Super simple and clean. "Part two" had been done by going to the airport, talking to the customs officers, and having them move the paperwork over to the new owner's name. This was what we had been told to do by many different sources - various web forums, the Chilean customs agent (with an English translator) at the Bolivia-Chile border, and the central Chilean customs office in Santiago (with step by step instructions written in Spanish to show if we had any difficulties). We had done our homework this time (yay we're learning!) and it definitely paid off. The transfer of Dave's temporary import permit was quick and easy and went off without a hitch. Great. 

Two months prior, Trevor had phoned a law firm in Santiago to go over the details of "part one" of the transfer, and how to make it legal to sell to a foreigner. Again, the instructions were given (in English!) step by step. The trick was, we could go to a notary in Chile and sell the motorcycle as an object, more or less. Trevor would sell this thing he owned to a foreign buyer (matching description KLR 650, 2008, blue, etc etc.) This would allow the buyer to be the legal owner of the vehicle, although not the registered owner. That is sufficient to import and export the vehicle into countries, insure it, and sell it later on. Perfect, that sounded ideal. 

So, we start the process to sell the bike. Unfortunately, we weren't able to start this whole thing until 2 days before the flights home. No problem. Stuff always works out for us. Johan, the hostel owner, spoke perfect english, being an ex United States diplomat. He was more than happy to help us out! We start out by explaining our situation to him and asking him to recommend a notary nearby. He offered to call the notary first and discuss the situation with them so we could just walk right in and it would all work our. Great, thanks Jo! Except... He hangs up the phone and tells us "Sorry, can't do it." This phrase ends up being one of the most hated ones ever... Anyway, Trevor calls up the law firm from two months ago (english speaking) and talks to the same lady. Contrary to two months ago, she says Trev's not allowed to sell the motorbike this way. She says he needs an RUT (basically, a personal Chilean tax number... not exactly, but close enough). This is exactly what he asked about two months ago! And so the frustration begins.

Luckily, Jo to the rescue. He called what I'm pretty sure he thought was a sketchier notary a bit out of the downtown core. After a quick chat, he gave us the thumbs up. They would do it! He wrote out some super short instructions, told us to talk to a certain person, and they would make it happen. Perfect. Trev and Fred then jumped on the ol' KLR and headed off to the notary. We get inside, find the person to talk to, show them the instructions... and get met with a "Sorry, can't do it." What? We just talked to you on the phone! Why do rules change based on a person's mood around here? This notary also says that we both need RUTs. Okay, well I guess it's off to the Chilean labour office.

Trev and Fred hop back on the bike and ride over to the labour office. We're met with a 2 hour wait, so we take shifts to wait while the other person goes to buy lunch. Finally our turn arrives. Fred, luckily, already has an RUT from a trip down here a couple years ago for a different reason. So Trevor shows his documentation to the officer and asks to be given an RUT. Of course, he's met with a "Sorry, can't do it." What else would the officer say? Classic. He says, as of one year ago, the law is that a foreigner now needs to be sponsored by a resident. He gives me the paperwork for the sponsor to fill out, and we get showed the door. Well, I guess that's all for today.

Luckily for Trevor, a friend was working in Santiago that was able to sponsor him. So, first thing in the morning, the two of them meet at a notary to get the sponsorship notarized. The two of them fill out the paperwork, hand it over to the clerk, and are told "Sorry, can't do it." Perfect. They said that the documentation isn't legally binding. But, luckily enough, they offered to write up a new version that they could notarize. Perfect. After way too long, the job is done.

At that point, Trevor and Fred meet up and head out to the airport to work on "part two" - transferring the temporary import permit. The rest of part 1 can wait. At least this part should be straightforward... We get to the customs office, explain the situation, and show them the paperwork and Spanish instructions. Surprise surprise, we're met with a "Sorry, can't do it." And no real explanation why, even though Dave did it not even a week prior. Luckily, Trev had an English speaking contact at the central Chilean customs office, which was just down the road. Fred and Trevor jogged over there, sat down in the office with her, and even found the original author of the Spanish instructions. After several phone calls and discussions, they told us the magic phrase: "Sorry, can't do it." Apparently Dave's paperwork was a mistake on their end, and they aren't actually allowed to do it that way. There were only two options: Surrender the motorcycle with no reimbursement, or drive to Argentina and transfer it there. Guess we're going for a night ride...

Now, Trevor and Fred try to finish up "part one" of the sale by going back to the RUT office. All the paperwork should be in order, and we wait for two hours (again...) and finally get a chance to see an agent. Guess what? He says "Sorry, can't do it." The paperwork that the notary wrote up this morning is invalid... Realistically, it was because he wanted to go home on the Friday afternoon and we would have been his last clients. Perfect. The frustration is building, and with only 24 hours until the flight home, tension is high.

Walking back to the motorbike, Trevor and Fred walk by a really sketchy looking notary. The wallpaper is peeling, the desks aren't level or square, the floor is damaged... Hmmm, this could be perfect. The two decided to try the original plan one last time, and sell the bike without a RUT. Walking in, an English speaking clerk promises to help as best he can. Turns out the place is just sketchy enough to do it! YES! Still don't understand the situation, but he will give us paperwork. Good enough for me.

An hour and $40 later, the two leave the notary and head for Argentina. A beautiful 2.5 hour drive up into the mountains ends at the border office. Long story short, the two had to bounce back and forth between the two border offices and drive a little bit into Argentina to get some paperwork stamped. Trevor didn't legally enter Argentina because of a "reciprocity agreement" which would have cost him $80, but Fred went in, stamped some stuff, then came back and pick Trevor up. At nearly midnight, the bike was back in Chile, in Fred's name, and the paperwork was complete. Unbelievable! The 2.5 hour ride back to Santiago ended at around 2:30 am, when an extremely cold Trev and Fred grabbed some street meat and a beer. Finally, bed time came at 4:00 am (12 hours before the flight home)... Talk about last minute! No problem.


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