In the old days, Central Asia was a great place to get rid of your old clunker before you headed into China. Second-hand cars were highly prized because of the extreme import duties on foreign goods, so you could get a lot more money for your car here than back home. With the creation of the Russian-led Customs Union, things have gotten a lot more complicated. Import taxes have gone up considerably, and governments are trying to keep old cars out of the country. So where do you go now? Let’s have a look.
Rules change all the time, so we will try to keep this article updated as we learn – all tips are welcome!
Tips for selling your car
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
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.
Consult an expert
Unless you can speak Russian and are familiar with selling used cars in foreign countries, then it’s definitely worth it to seek help. Here’s a few people you can talk to:
Utilise online marketplaces
This is of course only possible if you speak Russian. People will call you.
Sell it to another traveler
We made a separate topic on the Caravanistan forum for your wanted/for sale ads. Give it a go, it would mean not having to import anything, and you can rest assured your car will see more adventurous days in the hands of a fellow explorer.
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)
How about if I just leave it behind?
Leaving a car is also a problem. If you leave the country without your car you are liable for import duty as you have imported the car. Get it scrapped and 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. Stories of success and failure are collected in the dump or park your car forum topic.
Where to sell your car?
With the customs union in effect, prices in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are more or less equal now it seems, and import tax should be the same too, in principle. In Tajikistan, prices and demand are lower. Uzbekistan is out of the question 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 for now.
In Kazakhstan, Almaty has the biggest car market, 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.
In Almaty, the large car market is also open on weekends only and can be found here.