Steps to get your car back in Cartagena
Disclaimer: We shipped our van with Ever Logistics on Nov. 29, 2015 and shared a 40ft high cube container. These were the steps we took/should have taken in Cartagena. They are an update from what Life Remotely wrote in 2012. It is very likely that these steps will change, but they should give you an idea of what to expect. All locations are marked on iOverlander.
Note: If your car leaves Panama on Sunday and arrives in Cartagena on Monday afternoon/evening, show up at the Port at 8 a.m. Tuesday to have a better chance of going thru all the steps in one day. Wear long pants and covered shoes. Lunchtime is from noon to 1 p.m. Everyone takes a break. There are no restaurants nearby. Bring water, snacks and maybe lunch.
1. Arrive at Sociedad Portuaria. Present passport at greeter's desk. Get your port badge. The lady sends you to Servicio al Cliente (go up the stairs, to the right and thru the door labeled Dirección). This is a somewhat unnecessary step, but required by the greeter. It does give you a chance to introduce yourself to Nicolás or Rosalba so they know you're starting the process. With the temporary Bill of Lading Boris gave you in Panama, they make sure the car is here. You already know the answer because you've been tracking online. If you can, skip this step: go inside and pretend you went S al C, then head directly to Global Shipping.
2. Head to Global Shipping. (go outside, turn left). Stop at Control de Acceso. They check your badge and grant you access. Go thru the pedestrian gate. Follow green arrows and go around the cafeteria. GS is in a dark green building behind the cafeteria, with a small red sign above the door. Get invoices and copy of the Colombia Bill of Lading. Make sure you get this now.
3. Head to Banco de Occidente, about 6 blocks from Sociedad Portuaria. You can walk or take a taxi. Pay invoices with Colombian pesos. There is an ATM on site.
4. Despite what they tell you at Global Shipping, you CAN go to DIAN (which is across from the bank) now to make appointment with the inspector. Walk to DIAN. Get badge at the gate. Turn right at the first building, go thru it to building behind it. Tell the receptionist that you need un inspector para importación temporal. Inspector will give you a form. Fill it out, go across the street to get two copies. You will also need copies of passport (picture page and entry to Colombia stamp page), car title and BL. Bring copies to inspector. He will talk to Nicolás later to set up time for the inspection.
5. Go back to GS. Turn in paid receipts. Sign letter authorizing port of unloading of container. Make sure they stamp this letter with GS logo. (They didn't for us, and we had to go back to get this stamp at the end of the day.)
6. Back to Servicio al Cliente. Present passports, BL, unloading letter (carta de vaciado) and copy of your accidental insurance. Make sure your insurance lists what you're covered for and the amounts (example, $500,000 medical emergency, $100,000 accidental dismemberment, etc.). Get invoice from Nicolás.
7. Go downstairs to Facturas and bank. Pay in Colombian pesos. There is an ATM on site.
8. Servicio al Cliente. Wait. Wait in the Turistas blue chairs. They don't like you sitting on the comfortable seats inside the office. Nicolás enters information on his computer. He also calls inspector to arrange unloading (vaciado) and inspection. It could be the same day or the next day. For us, it was the next day at 10 am. He gives you the unloading schedule. You will need this to get location of unloading.
9. Get helmet and vest at Servicio al Cliente.
10. Go back to Control de Acceso. Hand your badge to be granted access. Hand her the schedule. She will check in the computer and tell you where to go. Walk thru the pedestrian gate. Take the bus to the warehouse. Port employee on motorcycle shows up and takes you to container. DIAN inspector arrives.
11. Port employee opens the container and takes out the straps. Drive out your car. Both inspectors look over the vehicle. DIAN inspector gives you two pieces of paper. Follow port employee to parking spot where you will leave the car for the rest of the day. Give him the key.
12. Walk back to Global Shipping. Get final Bill of Lading.
13. Walk to Servicio al Cliente. Return helmet and vest. Your clothes are likely to be soaking wet from sweating all day. Consider bringing a change of clothes. Nicolás gives you another invoice.
14. Go to Facturas, then bank. Pay in Colombian pesos.
15. Bring receipt, final BL and DIAN papers to Servicio al Cliente. Wait. Nicolás hands you another paper and tells you when your appointment is to get your key back and the release papers. Ours was 1.5 hours later. If you have to wait long, you could take a cab and buy the SOAT insurance now. See step 21.
16. Ten minutes or so before the appointment, Nicolás gives you a helmet and vest for drivers only. Go thru the truck entrance. DO NOT go thru pedestrian entrance. Give the paperwork you got from Nicolás and your passport to the port official at the truck entrance. He will give you the paperwork back and keep your passport until you leave. He will badge you in with your badge.
17. Walk straight about 70 meters. To the right there will be a rectangular building. Go to the door that says Vehículos - Máquinas. Hand paperwork to port inspector, who will be waiting for you. Sign the three copies. He will stamp them, keep the original and give you the copies back. He will also give your key back. Make sure the VIN# is correct on the form. They will check this at exit.
18. Walk back to the car. Drive directly to the exit, using whichever lane is closest to the office. Hand paperwork to the guard, show him where to find the VIN # on your car. He will verify against the form. Get out of the car and smile at the camera (seriously). Guard will give you paperwork and passport.
19. If you have a partner waiting for you, give them the helmet, vest and badge to return to Servicio al Cliente and greeter's desk. Or find a parking spot and do it yourself.
20. You are now free to go!
21. Get SOAT insurance. Show your passport and DIAN paper. They will ask you for the type of car, number of passengers, number of cylinders and cylinder capacity. Everything is done at one desk, with one person and returned to you right away. Say gracias.