How to buy or sell a car or motorbike in Central Asia for your Silk Road trip? The bureaucratic rules for (de)registering, getting license plates, insurance, … tend to change often and are different per country. We will not go into that much detail. Here is an overview of the best places to start looking for your new vehicle, and some things to keep in mind.
Where to buy or sell
With the Eurasian Customs Union in effect, prices in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan show few differences, and import tax should be the same too, in principle. In Tajikistan, prices and demand are lower. Uzbekistan is out of the question for now due to high import taxes.
On the whole, Kyrgyzstan probably still is the best place, although it’s not nearly as good as before. In Kazakhstan, you cannot sell a car with the steering wheel on the right-hand side. In Kyrgyzstan, this is still allowed until 2020.
In Kazakhstan, Almaty has the biggest car market (Gmaps), but prices are lowest there. You can fetch a higher price at the smaller markets in other cities. In Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek has the biggest car market, Osh is second choice.
You will need someone who speaks the local lingo. People will call you.
Sell it to another traveler
Post your for sale ad on the Caravanistan forum. If you sell it to another traveler (or they just drive it back home for you), this means you do not have to import anything, and you can rest assured your car will see more adventurous days in the hands of a fellow explorer.
How about if I just leave it behind?
It’s definitely possible. You can simply say you parked your car and never come back. Might not work everywhere.
Tips for selling your vehicle
With thanks to Mook and Semi’s article – Stories of people who sold their car in Central Asia successfully collected here.
Drive a popular brand
If you plan on selling your car in Central Asia, let it be a brand that people like to drive around here. Toyota, Honda, BMW, Lexus, Mercedes, Lada, Hyundai, Opel, Audi, Nissan, Subaru, Ford and Volkswagen are the most common. The first 5 in this list are most wanted and will get the best price and the most offers. Don’t come rocking up to the car market with a Fiat, you can’t even sell it for spare parts.
Decide if you want to scrap it or not
The process is way different if you are happy with a smaller amount. Scrappers would pay between $1000 and $1500 for a fully working vehicle. They’ll skip the import completely and just get rid of anything with a serial number. It’s not a bad way to go if your car is more than 10 years old. Make sure you have a document to show the border guards your car was wrecked and there was no way of getting it out again.
Read up on the deregistration process… before you leave home
Every country does it differently. Chances are your embassy doesn’t want to handle it and you need to have it done in your home town.
Make sure the buyer knows about importing cars
A lot of people are going to want your car, but not many of them know about the bureaucracy behind importing it into their country. It takes a lot of time and money, and their “rude awakening” will end up wasting a lot of your own time. Here is a table of import taxes in the Customs Union (2017).