Argentina at a Glance
Foreign Drivers in Argentina: Legal Aspects
Driving Permits for Argentina
If you are a tourist from the United States, you are a lucky winner: You get to use you original US license in Buenos Aires and in the Buenos Aires province until it runs out. If you leave either premise, though, your license is automatically invalid. Also, as a foreign resident with a US license only, you may be fined for not having a proper license.
The good news about Argentine driver’s licenses in general is that you can swap a valid foreign license for a local permit if your country of origin has entered into an agreement with Argentina. This applies to all foreign residents with license from Australia, all EU/EEA member states, South Africa, Switzerland, the UK, and the US, as well as any other state which has ratified the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic.
However, international visitors must use an international driving permit if they wish to drive in Argentina.
You can trade in your old license by bringing the following to the local Dirección de Habilitación de Conductores de Vehículos, the Argentine driver’s education office:
- valid passport
- valid driver’s license (plus Spanish translation)
- Argentine DNI (ID with your residency number)
- proof of address
You need to pay a fee, and you may have to take some medical tests (eyesight, medical history, etc.) and a short multiple-choice exam as well. In Buenos Aires, the latter should be available in both Spanish and English.
Rules and Regulations
Driver’s licenses follow the point system in terms of penalties. A new license has a certain number of points. With each traffic violation, they diminish further, and once they reach zero your license will be revoked.
You must be at least 18 to drive legally in Argentina. In addition, be very careful to follow the rules of the road accurately and carefully:
Seatbelts are mandatory for all passengers inside the car. Although this rule is often not followed properly, if you are caught by the police without one, points will be deducted off your license.
Do not operate mobile phones while driving. Hands free sets are acceptable but not encouraged.
The BAC is 0.5‰ – and 0.2‰ for motorcyclists.
The speed limits are as follows:
- 40 km/h in residential streets
- 60 km/h on urban main roads
- up to 110 km/h in the countryside
- up to 120-130 km/h on highways (semiautopistas and autopistas)
Be sure to follow these carefully, as speed traps are being set up more and more frequently.
Importing, Registering, and Insuring Your Car
Diplomats, returning Argentine citizens, and permanent residents may import used cars without a problem. Temporary residents may only import a used vehicle under temporary conditions – i.e. the car can remain in the country until their visa expires. You must also be aware that you may import just one used car per household, although allowances can be made for families / couples with two cars.
Expats bringing a car to Argentina should be aware that for all cars worth more than USD 15,000, the import duty is quite high. It may be sensible to simply buy a new/used car in Argentina instead and save yourself the hassle. Even though we have mentioned that many poorer Argentines cannot afford their own car, this may not apply to a foreign assignee with an expat salary.
Car insurance is mandatory in Argentina, and you have to carry proof of your insurance policy in the car. As in all countries, the minimum mandatory insurance is third party coverage for either yourself or your vehicle. However, it is probably best if you get a policy that covers more than the bare minimum, especially because driving in a foreign country is different and you may not be familiar with the rules and road signs yet.