Importing a Car

If you would like to import a car to the Cayman Islands, a brief summary of the process is as follows: you will need to get the car to the Port of Miami or Tampa, clear US Customs and book the car on the next ship sailing to Cayman.

Once the car has landed in Cayman you take all your paperwork to Customs and then to the Port Authority to pay duty (29.5%–42% depending on the value of your car), plus a one-time fee for future car disposal (see the Environmental Disposal Fee section later on in this chapter). You can then clear your car. You can hire a customs broker to help you with this process if desired, as it can be fairly complicated and time consuming.

Keep in mind that a light coloured car will feel cooler and the air conditioning will be more effective than a dark car in the heat of the Cayman sun. Having your air conditioning in good working order in your car is crucial and it is worth noting that if your car has a manual gearbox it may not be-easy to resell at a later date, since almost everyone in Cayman prefers to learn to drive in an automatic car.

Vehicle Shipping Process & Costs

The average cost for shipping a mid-sized vehicle (approximately 500 cubic ft or less) with either Seaboard Marine or Thompson Line is US$2100 (without insurance). They do recommend you then add insurance.

Clearing Your Car Through US Customs

It is the owner’s responsibility to clear their car through US Customs or to appoint a customs broker to do so. The following customs brokers, based in Miami, can help:

Barrett Trade Services, LLC

Seapack Inc.

Deluxe Freight Inc.

Clearing Your Car Through Cayman Customs

Once your car has landed at the port in Cayman, the shipping company will notify you. If you have used a customs broker, they will liaise with their contact in Cayman and the following steps will be taken care of. If you are doing it yourself however, the next steps are as follows:

  • Collect paperwork from the shipping company and pay shippers
  • Go to Customs, pay the duty for your vehicle and pay the environmental fee (CI$250 or CI$1250)
  • Go to the Port Authority and pay port charges of about CI$50, depending on the weight of your vehicle
  • Obtain car insurance (you will need proof of insurance on the vehicle before picking up the car from the Port)
  • Pick up your vehicle
  • Go to the DVDL to license your vehicle for one year, have it inspected and purchase Cayman Islands licence plates. They will also need to see the vehicle’s certificate of title. Note: the cost depends on the type of vehicle being licenced. Also note that, as per the Cayman Islands’ Traffic Law, it is an offense to keep a vehicle in the Cayman Islands without it being registered with the DVDL.

Duty Costs of Importing a Car

As a way of raising revenue, because we don’t have direct taxes, the Cayman Islands Government charges import duty on all vehicles being imported into the Islands.

The percentage charged depends on the value of the car and is worked out using the Kelly Blue Book. See www.kbb.com.

The import duty is calculated on what is known as CIF value. This is the Cost of the car plus the Insurance premium for its journey by ship, plus the sea freight charges.

All pick-up trucks are rated at 29.5%
CIF up to CI$20,000 = 29.5%
CIF up to CI$25,000 = 32%
CIF up to CI$30,000 = 37%
CIF from CI$30,001 and up = 42%

Environmental Disposal Fee

An Environmental Disposal Fee is added to cover the cost of disposing of the vehicle in years to come. Depending on the value of the vehicle, the fees range from CI$250-CI$1,250. For motorcycles, the fee is CI$75. All vehicles may be subject to a CI$50 port charge by the Port Authority.

Exporting a Car from Cayman

If you want to ship a car off the Island, the process is as follows: go to the DVDL and terminate registration of the vehicle, surrender the log book, coupon and licence plates and then fill out a vehicle export form. Have the DVDL duly sign and stamp it. Take this form over to Customs and they will then process the document. You can then arrange the shipping of the vehicle with a freight forwarder or one of the shipping companies.

Mechanical Breakdown Insurance

If you import a car into Cayman you should be aware that warranties do not extend to the Cayman Islands. You can however, purchase mechanical breakdown insurance for a new or used vehicle in Cayman. The terms are usually for up to four years and differ depending on the age, mileage and category of the vehicle. The warranty is transferable to a new owner if you sell the car. One company that offers this insurance is Cayman Automotive (Tel: (345) 749 0900).