Foz do Iguaçu was the location of our border crossing into Argentina. Our research showed that this good sized border is efficient and allows for a quick, painless exit from Brazil and entry into Argentina. Being out of practice in the border crossing department, Laughlin was anxious as we neared the border. I was pretty relaxed. Here is our experience in crossing the border:
Mid afternoon, we arrived at the Brazilian side of the border to begin exiting the country. There was no signage indicating where to park and cars were chaotically parked everywhere although mostly in the middle of the road. We waited for a minute to figure out where to park and finally just turned off the truck where it was as a huge van of tourists had just arrived. We made our way to the migration office and were stamped out of Brazil in less than five minutes.
Next, we made our way to the Receita Federal to have our vehicle import permit cancelled. The building had the most ridiculous window that opened at the bottom making it incredibly awkward to talk to the police. Check out the photo below. At this point I was a bit nervous thinking we could end up with a final bill for all of the speed cameras we blew through over the previous two months. Luckily, they stamped our permit as cancelled and we were on our way. We exited Brazil in less than ten minutes!
On the Argentinian side, we were a little confused. The road directed cars right into about ten lanes similar to borders in the US. It was a bit shocking to see an organized border rather than piles of bricks and shacks that we have become accustomed to. We figured that it would be better to park and ask questions than just drive right through.
Our first stop was the migration office. There was no line as we approached the counter with ten agents ready to stamp our passports. We were stamped in and told that we should have just followed all of the other cars for our stamps and vehicle import. We walked back towards the truck and took a quick detour to the duty free mall as everything was going so smoothly. Bad decision.
After an hour at the incredible duty free shop ad a bag of pistachios later, we returned to the truck and queued up. A small car in front of us with two passengers and one suitcase was being ransacked by the customs officials and we began to sweat. When our turn arrived, the official asked for our Argentina auto insurance. When we explained we needed to buy it in Puerto Iguazu (the town on the Argentina side), he promptly told us that we had to turn around as we would not be allowed into Argentina. So much for the seamless entry!
We parked the truck and jumped in a taxi to begin buying insurance. We arrived at the building at 3PM and discovered it was closed until 4. After an hour of waiting, our friendly agent whipped up a policy and we were back to our truck in no time.
For our second attempt to get through the border, we decided it would be wise to try a different lane with a less intimidating official. When our turn came, we were prepared to have an official go through our entire camper but were surprised when he just took a quick look in the back of the camper. He wrapped up our vehicle import permit and were permitted to enter Argentina!
So, the entire process from start to finish was nearly three hours but one of those hours was spent at the duty free shop and another was spent waiting for the insurance company to open. The actual process was around twenty minutes with the balance being walking from building to building. If we had our insurance ahead of time, we probably could have done the entire process in thirty minutes. It wouldn’t be an adventure if everything went perfect, right?