In general, I have been satisfied dealing with the government — from Immigration to SAT (the tax folks). Doing a title transfer on a car, however, is a different game. This is my experience. you can decide if it seems reasonable or not.
Step 1 is easy — or, so it seems. On the back of the current car title is the form to fill out to do the transfer. No real surprises there. Basically, the seller fills in his basic info including his NIT (tax number) and they the buyer does the same. (Yes, you need to have a NIT but you need residency to get one–a recent change–so there could be some issues here.) A notary then needs to authenticate the the signatures.
So far, so good except make sure the buyer address matches exactly the address of your NIT. If it does not you get fined Q15. The amount is not the issue but having to deal with it will add 30 minutes or more to your time at SAT.
We (buyer and seller) headed up to SAT in Sololá (you can’t do this at SAT in Panajachel) Friday morning arriving at about 9AM. Oops, too late. They had issued all the “tickets” for the day. In the process of grumbling to each other, a guy came over and gave us his card. The cards are pretty ugly but say “Tramites de SAT Byron” and give a phone number of 5470-5585. His gig is that for Q150 he will do all the possible footwork and be in line at 6AM so you can show up at 7:30AM. Or, if you want him to also do the lawyer step, add another Q100 — a good deal as I paid my lawyer Q150.
I hate lines and decided Q150 was a good investment. (The seller asked me, “do you think he is honest”. My reply was that a crook would not be handing out business cards to everyone with his phone number.) I gave him the old title, my DPI and money — for him and for SAT. He quickly got the paperwork ready to submit and the two payments to SAT (Q500 and Q120) done, plus a copy of my DPI. That was it until the line Monday morning.
I arrived at about 0715. Byron was there as promised. We waited until the gate was opened at 0750. They we made a mad dash for a row of chairs and I negotiated back into my position as number 4.
At 0800 a SAT guy and two guards came out to “see what we had” and, if it looked good, staple a “ticket” to it. I passed this initial check. A few minutes later the first couple of people were allowed to enter (there were apparently a few leftovers from Friday as well). The women in front of me and I were told “come back at 1030”. Grumble.
So, I went off and ate breakfast (Q13 in one of the stands on the side of the park) and did some shopping. Arrived back a bit before 1030. At 1030 a few of us were told we could go inside. Wow, we now got to form a queue in a different set of chairs. I was number two.
The time at the window was mostly non-verbal. The guy looks at your paperwork and a computer monitor and puts red checkmarks for all the correct stuff. In my case, he pulled out the yellow highlighter which I had previously been told was a bad thing. Sure enough, my address didn’t match 100% with what is on my NIT.
When he was done check-marking he printed out another form — with my mistake. I was sent off to another line where I could give the mistake form to the guy and he would print out “a bill”. Twelve people later plus the only guy serving the queue running off to the bathroom I had the next piece of paper.
Off to the bank queue. In a few minutes I got to pay my Q15 and return to the first inside line. I again got to watch the man at the window type and check but he was slower this time as he was talking on the phone with, I assume, his lover. Eventually we finished, he went off to laminate my new curculation card and I was done. It was about 1230.