Vanlife Central America: Selling your vehicle outside the USA

Vanlife Central America: Selling your vehicle outside the USA

Article updated on 05.16.24

It’s true that selling a vehicle with US plates in Panama can seem intimidating, due to the foreign Spanish language and the lack of documentation. If you’ve done things right from the start (see our article Buying a vehicle in the USA), there will be no problem selling your vehicle legally outside the USA.

Requirements :

Step 1: Finding a buyer

We recommend that you advertise your vehicle for sale at least 3 months in advance. The most widely used channel is travel groups on Facebook (for example, this group : Once you’ve found a buyer, you’ll need to create a written sales contract.

Tip: use Revolut to receive the money. There are no fees. You can choose the currency in which you want to receive the money. If the buyer also has Revolut, the transaction is instantaneous.

Step 2: Transfer of ownership (of the LLC in our case)

To ensure that the sale is as smooth as possible, the car must be owned by an LLC created in the USA through (see our article on buying a car in the USA as a foreigner). Indeed, we don’t sell the vehicle, but we sell the LLC that owns the vehicle. As a result, the license plates and title remain the same. All administrative tasks can be handled remotely, thanks to the services of

To sum up:

  1. The buyer must agree to work with and pay him $995 to take care of all the administration in the USA to change the ownership of the LLC. If he doesn’t accept, he’ll have to find someone in the US who can handle this administration OR you pay the fees yourself to
  2. The new buyer will receive from Fedex the official document of the new LLC ownership.

If the vehicle is in your name, it’s the same procedure. You’ll need a acquaintance in the USA who can help you with the paperwork there ( can also help you). In this case, the problem for the buyer will be changing the plates in Panama. He’ll have to have the plates delivered to Panama and report the plate change, which can be legally complicated.

Step 3: The sale in Panama City

As mentioned above, the easiest way is to contact Alejandro from Overland Embassy, who will help you with the sale of the vehicle in Panama City. He speaks English very well and has solutions to every problem ;). What’s more, he has a campsite and workshop in downtown Panama City, which is very convenient for settling down to finalize all the paperwork and hand over the vehicle to the new owner.

Here are the steps to follow with Overland Embassy :

  • Apostille the vehicle sale document by a notary (costs approx. 250 USD)
  • Go to customs bond to cancel the TIP in your passport and add the new TIP to the buyer’s passport (costs approx. 60 USD).
    • If the buyer has not yet arrived in Panama, the vehicle must be placed in customs storage until the buyer arrives in Panama. The fee is 118 USD + 5 USD per day.

These documents are required for both steps:

  • Title of ownership of the vehicle
  • Copies of your passport
  • Copies of buyer’s passport
  • Copies of sales contract
  • Copies of the TIP (temporary import permit for the vehicle into Panama)

Don’t hesitate if you have any questions. We know that these steps can be a little intimidating, but if you’re well supervised, everything will go perfectly smoothly.

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