Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Great Guatemalan Car Title Transfer

On Monday, we had a day off of school.  However, I was still out the door and in the school parking lot by 5:30am, along with several other teachers.  Why?  We had a mission that we’d been told would probably take all day: transferring the titles of our cars from their previous owners to our names. 

Four of us left the school parking lot and arrived at the offices where we needed to be by 6:30am.  The doors to the mall opened at 7am, and then we could get in line for the SAT (Guatemalan DMV) and get our paperwork in order.

Transferring a title in Guatemala is no easy process.

While Brett held our place in line for SAT, Geoff and I went with Don Ruben (our driver from the school) to the notary/copy office to get the paperwork started.  There, we found out that none of us had brought enough cash.  The school representative working with us had told us to bring about half as much as we would actually need.  So, we had to go find an ATM in the bank.  (Thankfully, there was one).  Then, we had to go to the bank (also in the mall) and pay a tax while Don Ruben took some paperwork and more money and went to get us some more paperwork that we’d need.  At the bank they told us their system was down and they couldn’t take our payment for 2 charges we needed to pay.  So it was back to the notary where they were able to write up a receipt we could take to the bank so they could take care of the payment.  Then, we waited for the paperwork to be notarized in that office again.  Once we had that, we went into the SAT office.  There I found out I hadn’t yet paid a registration fee for 2014 for my car, so it was trip #3 to the bank for me.  Then back in line, finally getting to talk to a person at an SAT desk.  There was another small fee I needed to pay, so it was back to the bank (trip #4!).  Back to SAT where they finalized the paperwork, took my picture, and gave me my new circulation card and title. 

Does that sound complicated?  Because it WAS.  Thank goodness my Spanish is good enough for me to be able to understand and relay to everyone else what was going on.  We also really lucked out in 2 ways.  First of all, we’d heard we would have to do all the paperwork at SAT, then take our cars to the other side of town and have them inspected by a police officer to make sure they weren’t stolen and weren’t hiding drugs or weapons, then come back to SAT to receive the card.  It turned out none of us needed the inspection.  Second, today there was really NO line anywhere.  Perhaps it was because it was a cold, drizzly, Monday morning, or perhaps just because we were there at the right time…but for whatever reason, there were no lines.  Had there been, all that running back and forth would have taken easily twice as long. 

I can tell you one thing, I was one happy girl returning to school at 10:30am with my car title in hand.  

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