When we first started researching how the hell we were going to get our 4WD from Australia all the way to South America, we were completely stumped. Back then, we were rookies when it came to logistics like shipping and completely unfamiliar with the great overlanding communities online who we *should* have asked for advice. Instead, we googled A LOT which didn’t get us very far, and then emailed a bunch of agents in Melbourne to ask if they could help us out.In the end, after a recommendation from a friend, we contacted John at AAW Global Logistics who acted as our agent, taking care of everything from arranging for our 4WD to be packed and strapped into the container, and customs to be dealt with to making sure the 4WD ended up on the ship and on its way while we were in Brazil celebrating Carnival.
This is how we left Ron back in Aus. We were so short on time that Kev dropped him off at the warehouse and he was strapped, popped in the container and shipped without us being there
On the other side of the world, we’d been hunting for an agent in Buenos Aires and despite emailing 10 different agents, had failed to get a response. Eventually, I stumbled across Plate Logistics, and gave them a last minute call in the middle of the night. “Habla usted Ingles?” I asked in my terrible Spanish. Hold music came on, and a moment later I was chatting with Martin who was happy to help, but advised that shipping a personal vehicle into Argentina wasn’t the wisest decision. As it turns out, Argentina has very high port fees and we’d be stuck footing the bill.
We were given a quote, and while they agents fees were reasonable, the port fees were huge! After looking into the matter a little further, we’d realised Argentina is a bit of nightmare for shipping into and we read horror stories about travellers in Buenos Aires who’d been waiting months for their vehicle to be released because they were without an agent and refused to pay the port fees. Our vehicle was already on-route and we didn’t want the hassles that we’d been reading about, so we accepted shipping to Buenos Aires as a very expensive mistake and soldiered on.
Finally, after a few months travelling in Brazil and Argentina, the time had come. Our ship had arrived in the port and Ron was ready to be picked up. Our agent was great, and the paperwork was completed with any hiccups.
Soon enough, we found ourselves standing with our agent in the port, watching as our container opened and saw for the first time was incredible!
And he’s free!
Kev hopped in, and pulled him around so customs could do a search of the vehicle and contents. Of course, he went straight to the rooftop box which is where we’re storing all our fuel, air and oil filters for servicing (20 of each!). Argentina has strict import taxes on most items including vehicle parts, and when the customs agent saw the quantity we were bringing in, he saw this as an opportunity to hustle us. Rather than impose the import tax, he suggested we offer him a ‘tip’ to complete the paperwork. Kev, ever the player, suggested that he sign off on the paperwork and we’d pay him the bribe once the car was sitting outside the port. All agreed, and our paperwork was signed so we headed back to the main office to sign Ron out. But, as it turns out, that agent didn’t have the proper authority to sign off and as his boss had left for the weekend.
Our stomachs dropped – we’d been at the port since 9am and it was now just after 6pm. And now, we realised that we’d have to leave Ron in the port over the weekend. A friend from Australia had shipped his motorcycle into Buenos Aires a few years earlier, and the whole thing was stripped. It took him three months the bike back to where it was, and a lot of money. We couldn’t put Ron back in the container, and we were concerned about security. We pushed a little, and managed to get him put in an undercover garage behind multiple wire gates. Kev reversed him up against a wall so no-one could get in the back, and we put on the clutch-claw so even if someone got in, they couldn’t drive him anywhere. We hopped in a cab and headed back to our apartment for the weekend.
Can you tell we’re excited?!
Monday morning we were back at the port bright and early, ready to get the final customs approval and take Ron back out on the road. As it turns out, the government were in the middle of a huge crackdown on bribery in Argentina, and given the customs agent had signed off on our vehicle despite all the spare parts, he didn’t want to get caught out by his boss. We watched as the agent, sweating, tried to distract his boss from the rooftop box. Thankfully, the boss wasn’t too bothered with Ron, and signed off with a cursory look over.
From there, everything was a blur, and in less than an hour, we were sitting in Ron with our temporary import permit, vehicle insurance and the open road ahead of us.
Australia to Argentina
Time: About 10 weeks in total
Melbourne Agent: AAW Global Logistics
Buenos Aires Agent: Plate Logistics
Shipping Company: Hamburg Sud
Melbourne Agent/Shipping Fee: About AUD$5000
Buenos Aires Agent: USD$700
Buenos Aires Port Fee: USD$2,500