Registering the Car

Sometimes getting things done can be quite a production involving many steps, documents, and copies. There are always copies. Sometimes even just explaining a process takes many words. Here are 1500 words…..

We bought a bigger car a couple years ago, good for hauling band equipment to gigs. It was registered in Panama City which means renewing it had to be done in Panama City every year, not convenient for us. We learned about Arsineo in Dolega who will go to Panama City, take care of the registration, and get everything transferred to Dolega if you wish (the next town up the road from us). He needed $125 (if memory serves) and signed permission to do this in our behalf, and he returned later at the agreed time with our new license plate (you get a new plate every year).

So this year, the month the plate expires comes and we plan for the registration process. First, you need a document of insurance showing you are current (get one from your insurance agent). Then, you need a revisado (inspection) which can be done at a number of service stations around town. We gathered the registro (title) and seguro (insurance) and went to Felipe Rodriguez, our unusual revisado place. They check all the lights, turn signals, tires, and take the required photos of the front and side of the car. We paid the cashier $11 and left with our revisado document.

Next, we went to the Municipial office in Dolega with our documents, and copies of everything (we have learned through experience. Copies of everything are always a very good idea. If you can do them yourself, that’s better than hunting for a place, finding them closed for lunch, or some other complication. Copies are usually not done on site, in the same office as your business). Where is that document from Panama City? What document? Apparently Arsineo had a document giving permission to transfer the registration, but this did not actually do the transfer so little did we know there would be more to this process.

Thankfully someone in the other office was able to look through Arsineo’s files and find the document. Of course we needed a copy so we went to the copy place, which at this time is the residential house across the street. $.10 and a pleasant chat later, we head back to the license plate office. There is no plate for us though so we are given a document that says everything is up to date. (When you do your registration, at that time they order you a plate for next year so if you are making a change like this, or sometimes even if you are late, they won’t have ordered a plate for you).

But, our title still says Panama City so we need to fix that. Off we go to the title office. Dejota? Huh? (Not sure about spelling)  We need a dejota. Ok, where? David. What is it? Verification of the VIN numbers. We are very thankful for friends and neighbors who know stuff, and are able to explain this process and where to go.

We set off for the dejota place and after asking in a couple places, found it in the judicial building across from EP Furniture on Ave Olbaldia. We were told to go early (us? early? Ha!) but found out if you go in the late morning most of the early birds have come and gone, and we only had a wait for a few people ahead of us (maybe an hour. The guy is not the hurry and work fast type).

First we had to go to an office where they checked all our papers, and then we waited outside where the guy was doing the inspections. He found the VIN numbers under the hood, on the motor, and on the chassis, rubbed them with carbon paper, and then used packing tape to make an impression and stuck the tape to a paper form which he filled out with our info. We didn’t realize that waiting in the car with AC on made this really difficult because he had to reach under the hot motor to find the numbers. It would have been hard to access the numbers even in a cold motor, they were so far down and in a space hard to access. He finally got it done though. Then he checked all the papers again and announced that we were missing a receipt from Panama City, a Paz y Salvo document (don’t even ask me what that’s about)

We were told that Arsineo should have gotten this document when he did our business in Panama City, so we went back to Dolega to see if it was there. No… no luck… and no Arsineo on site….and though the gal could find our name on his log of things he’d done, she couldn’t find any file or papers of ours. She determined that we needed to request a copy from Panama City, and she made a permission document giving herself the ability to do this for us. This had to be notarized but apparently there is no longer a notary in Dolega, so this would need to be done in David.

By now this is getting tedious and frustrating! I looked again through all our papers. Then, I got the idea to look through all the papers for the other car, and there is was!! Yay!!!! I don’t know how it got there but at this point I was just really happy to have it. I made a couple copies (of course) and headed back to the dejota guy. He took a copy said he would find our file, and send whatever he needed to send to Dolega. We could return to Dolega in 10 working days to get our new title.

So, after giving them a few extra days, just because, we go back to Dolega. No title. No records of any sort with our name. Nothing. Maybe they went to David, Bugaba, or other municipality? We need to call the dejota guy and find out what’s going on.

It’s much easier to go in person, so back to the dejota guy we go. He’s not there, so an office gal looks through files and books, many files and books, and finally finds our document with the VIN numbers and tape, nothing more, and on the top of the document is written in pencil “wait”. They track down the dejota guy in some back room. Apparently he wasn’t busy so he was just hanging out. He says he needs the documents. (I don’t know what happened to all the documents we already gave him plus the missing one we brought in a couple days later). Thankfully I came armed with copies of everything, title, revisado, insurance, transfer document from Arsineo, paz y salvo receipt…. I think that might be all? Again, he takes everything, 10 business days…. Dolega….. Dolega! For sure, yes? No other municipality please. Dolega.

Again, we allow some extra time and then go to Dolega. She looks through a book, makes a check mark next to a name, checks our old title… it’s there!!! Yay! She only needs a copy of my cedula (the Panamanian universal ID card).

I had copies of everything in the world, except that. Back to the house across the street, $.10 and a pleasant chat later, I return with my copy. Ok, now go to the next window and give her $20. She gives me a Paz y salvo receipt which I give to the title lady, and she hands me the new title which now says Dolega! YAY!!!!  Whew!!!  Sheesh, can’t believe we finally got it done.

There is still no license plate though. Check back in May. May?? Ok.

Now, after all that, do you want to hear an easy story? Plan for the worst, and sometimes it’s even worse than that, but sometimes it’s amazingly smooth and you’ll have a happy surprise. We decided to keep our old Atos. It’s perfect for in town and costs hardly anything to keep. You can only get liability insurance for anything over 10 years old, and our insurance for this 13 yr old is only around $120-130/year.

The time came for the registration on the Atos. Our insurance document was current so I made a copy, and a copy of the title and we headed out for the revisado. There was a new girl who only glanced at the tires, took the photos, and $11 and a surprisingly short time later we headed out with our revisado document. We made a copy of this too, and headed to Dolega. There was no room full of waiting people, no wait at all. We gave the gal the revisado and I think a copy of the title, and around $35, and she gave us our new plate. Done! That fast!

See, sometimes you’ve done something before so you know the process, and it goes quickly and smoothly.

About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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1 Response to Registering the Car

  1. Eliza Ayres says:

    Reblogged this on Blue Dragon Journal.


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