Cars and numeros and cosas and things


The best part of here (Santiago) so far has been the confrontations with bureaucracy—both because it's defined our purpose thus far of buying a car, but also because it's given us something to talk about with nearly everyone. FOR EXAMPLE (translated from Spanish for YOUR convenience):

Sr. Juan: "What are you doing here?"

Shannon: "Well I'm buying a kombi and driving it all over everywhere without exception."

Sr. Juan: "You mean 'RENT' a kombi, because what you're saying is not possible"

Shannon: "I said "BUY" a Kombi!!!"

 *hits Señor Juan with stone cold stunner and asks him if he can smell what the rock is cooking despite him being knocked out and not great in English*


This is not what actually transpired at all, quite the opposite, but I hope it relays (in dramatic fashion) what it's like to be here and have but one thing to communicate: ME WANT KOMBI.

Between arriving here and seeing our first pile of rust and house paint and poop (or what Romanians call a "car" apparently), we started the search anew. We scoured websites, newspaper ads, and even the local version of Chilean Craigslist (we found nothing there but I've had plenty of nice massage offers). After many messages, a soon-to-be-friend named José Antonio got back to us and said his kombi was still available and ready for a test drive. 

Long story short = we went there, test drove it, liked it, liked his vibe, still looked at more kombis, took his to a mechanic for technical analysis, decided to buy his.

If you download John Muir's seminal book "How to keep an air-cooled VW alive" then you'll see that "feeling vibes" and "scrooching your butt into" your possible new vehicle is really important. It certainly was for us. We felt good vibes, we scrooched our butts, and had many beers and pisco (chilean liquor) shots with José on the way to making it official and transferring funds for our new baby. What follows is a succinct account of how to get bonafide in Chile and purchase a vehicle as a foreigner:

1) SEO Words to Make this Post Helpful to Foreigners trying to Find, Purchase, Get, Locate, Procure, Ascertain, and otherwise BUY a car, vehicle, auto, kombi, VW in Chile as a foreigner, non-local, or extranjero/alien.

2) Start searching on any of these sites:,, El Mercurio,

3) Find vehicle, set up time to take a look-see, test drive it, TAKE IT TO BONAFIDE MECHANIC for a review, then haggle over price

4) As a foreigner, you will need a RUT number (pronounced root, like the Beastie Boy's classic), that will then allow you to make investments and larger purchases, like a house or car, but will NOT allow you to vote- sorry MIchelle Bachelet haters, nice try. To do this, as we've done so as recent as September 2015, you need to:

a) Get a Chilean sponsor to come with you (shout out again to José for being the man and wading through this with us) and write a nice little paragraph about you do not at all plan to murder anyone in Chile

b) Go to the Chilean IRS, called the SII or Servicios Impuestos Internos, and get in line early before 9am to fill out an application together with your sponsor for a RUT

c) Once filled out, get it checked out and then proceed to a Notary (sidebar: notaries in Chile are basically like Judge Wapner, and have PLUSH jobs, I could write an entire post just about their business model...but I definitely won't ever do that). SNAP, I forgot, fill out ALL your RUT papers in BLUE ink...I'm not joking, it sounds nuts but we almost had to re-do everything because I signed something in a black. Notary reviews your papers, stamps them, charges you a few bucks (less than $10 USD) and then you go back to the SII office

d) NOW GO BACK TO SII, show them you're now , then they will print out a handy little paper for you with your new RUT number- congrats, you're basically a one-way Chilean citizen that can only give Chile money, but make none.

e) LAST STEP, go back to notary (NOT the registro civil or DMV as we yanks call it) where they will do a title transfer and charge you the tax on the purcahse- I think around 1.5% of the total value. BOOM, that's it. 

5) Once you're all RUT'd up, you can grab the keys, drive with your temporary RUT number and the old owner's padron (the old title, until yours shows up in the mail weeks later), and cruise all around Chile, but NOT cross borders until your padron is ready with your name on it.

Sheesh, that's a lot. Next post will have us on the road...and it shan't be long before an 8.3 sized disaster strikes (we're doing great).