I am currently in Lima and have two months of vacation. As some of you might know, I’m a big fan of motorcycle travelling and thus my plan was to buy a bike here and ride it in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. In the meantime I was already on the road but since I had a little accident somewhere in the mountains on 4300 meters I am now back in Lima to fix a broken finger :-). The good thing is that I now have time to write this article which hopefully helps other motorcycle travellers that plan to do the same or a similar thing.
Just to make things clear, this article is about buying a motorcycle with Peruvian number plates in Peru and how to get the paperwork done. It’s NOT about importing or crossing the border to Peru with a foreign bike.
To sum it up, here is what you need to do, you will find more detailed information afterwards:
- Find and buy a bike
- Permiso para firmar contratos – S 12.25 + $50
- SOAT – S 480.-
- Gravamen – S 33.- (usually done in the notary’s office)
- Notari – S 180.-
- Official Photocopy of the bike paper – S 4.-
It needs to be mentioned that I had a lot of support from a few friends, especially from Flavio from Inca Moto Adventures that eventually sold me one of his Honda XR600’s. He also rents out bikes but this wasn’t an option for me since I wanted to travel for a longer duration than what seems to be considered a usual rental period. The whole process took about a week and would have taken longer if I would not have had that great support – thanks for that!
If you are seriously interested in buying a bike, just contact me and I could also give you some more information, e.g. GPS coordinates of the various locations.
Find and buy a bike in Peru
A good friend of mine currently lives in Peru and by lucky chance she got acquainted with a motorcycle travelling enthusiast named Fernando. He first pointed me to the following websites that give you a good overview of Peru’s m/c second-hand market:
I did some research on these websites while I was in Switzerland and saw some reasonable offers. These websites gave me a feeling for the prices which seem to be even a bit higher for Japanese bikes than back in Switzerland. Honda seems to produce bikes in Brasil which are sold far cheaper than the imported (bigger) ones. So another option for you could also to be to buy a new bike right here, e.g. there’s an excellent Honda Shop called Desert Sport Racing in Miraflores, Lima. They were not very helpful, but it’s probably one of the most decent Honda bike dealers.
Fernando later mentioned that a guy he knows sells an XR400 for about 4000 USD, so I got in Contact with Flavio Salvetti from Inca Moto Adventures. I somehow didn’t react quick enough but the xr400 was gone. But he had an XR600 for sale and offered it with a bigger fuel tank (5 gallons – 19 litres) for USD 4400. Because I only had two months I wanted to make sure that I at least know which bike it would be when I’m there so I decided to buy the XR600. I sent 10% of the buying price and finally sat in the plane to pick up my bike.
Get a permission to sign contracts
Right after I gave the rest of the payment to Flavio we both went to a notary’s office called Schiaffino to get an official third party to attest our contract. This seems to be already enough of bureaucracy to me, in most western countries you only need a third party for important things like a marriage or when you buy a piece of land, but not such a simple transaction as buying a bike However, the notary also seems to act as an intermediary towards the ministry of transport and from that point of view it spares you from going to another place. Which it didn’t in my case.
Important: take the money in cash with you, peruvian ATMs are very mean – they only let you get 200 USD out per transaction, and I heard that you can only get 400 per day as a maximum.
Off we went to the notary (there are hundreds of them all over the city) and did our first try! It soon ended as they complained I need to have a special permission to sign contracts. From what I understood, this is only necessary if you are a foreigner. This has nothing to do with the so-called Carnet de Extranjeria which I didn’t need at all.
Alright, I went to the ‘immigraciones’ office (coordinates available but every Peruvian taxi driver seems to know it) to get a stamp in my passport which says “permiso especial para firmar contratos”. First go directly to the bank counter in the ground floor, tell them that you need this paper and pay Soles 12.25. Then go up with the receipt to the 3rd floor (peruvian numbering scheme – ground floor = 1) and look for a counter called ‘permisos especiales’ or something like that. In general, if you just ask some of the officials, they help you a little bit, but don’t expect a foreigner advantage in these places.
The clerk takes yor receipt, does some magic with it and then I had to go down to the bank counter again to pay exactly USD 50 – hard currencies for the world! Another stamp on that paper and then back to the 3rd floor, hand out the paper and then you just have to wait. In my case this only took an hour, but afterwards I finally had that stamp in my passport. Funnily enough I will have to go through this procedure again when I sell my bike because the stamp is only valid for one month!
Third party insurance
I heard and read (1) (2) (3) different stories about this topic and this could actually refrain some travellers from buying a bike in Peru. Flavio was quite sure that a third party insurance called SOAT is needed and asked by the notary in the process of legalisation of the bike. In the end I gave in and bought for 480 Soles one year of insurance which is directly bound to the motorcycle. The good thing is that I can sell the SOAT to the next owner, but I would have preferred a limited duration and thus a lower price for it. I’ve also heard that the price for motorbikes is much higher than for cars – hard to comprehend when you think about how much damage you can cause to a third party with the bike in comparison to a car.
Unfortunately I don’t have the details on this SOAT, because Flavio has organized it for me, but there are many places on the streets that sell SOAT (probably not for m/c but just ask yourself through). If I get more detailed information, I will let you know.
Another try at the notary – and at the SUNARP
I had the bike, a cool new stamp in my passport and a 3rd party insurance – let’s go to the notary’s office! Everything was running smoothly, I think we already saw a draft of the contract by the notary but then clouds, rolling thunder and nasty lightnings came in and made me go to yet another office. Usually the notary would look up in a database run by the ministry of transport (or something like that) if my bike was involved in accidents, robbery or I don’t know what, but the system failed exactly at that day for all notary offices in Lima. The manual alternative means going to one of the SUNARP offices [coordinates available], ask for a paper called GRAVAMEN and get that printed out and signed and carry it back to the notary. Too bad I wasn’t the only one – took me another four hours of waiting, but you know I was already getting used to it
Finally getting (waiting) for the paper
Luckily Flavio had time for another visit at our favourite notary’s office that late afternoon and really, this time there seemed nothing to be missing. I wondered what’s coming next – but nothing (significant) was asked from me. We signed the contract which included the amount and the payment method (effectivo – cash) and that was it more or less. There is a little catch though – that little paper which indicates the vehicle holder was and is still running on Flavio’s name and I will get the one with my name on it only after 7 to 10 days. In the meantime I already started travelling and my Swiss friend is said to be allowed to pick up the paper at the notary as long as she has the original receipt of the notary and the old vehicle holder’s card (original). This probably means you can’t cross borders. So, if you have a friend that could pick up the paper for you and send it to you, you are ready to go! Otherwise you’d have to wait until the paper is ready and pick it up yourself.
Another thing I almost forgot to mention is that I had to give an address on some papers. For this, I was using the address of my Swiss friend here in Lima, but I think a hotel address would have done the trick, nobody was really looking after that address and there’s nothing to be seen in any system because I’m not registered as a resident here in Peru. I think they just need something to fill out the blanks :-).
In the meantime I had a silly little accident on the road and am back in Lima, thus cannot tell you how it works if somebody else picks up the papers.