At the last border crossing we wrote that if it get any easier to cross the borders, we’ll stop posting the border crossing info. Well, we’re still posting… Not that it was very difficult, but it was definitely slow and a little bureaucratic.
This time we crossed the main border between Argentina and Chile, called Paso Cristo Redentor, and there are a lot of people going through here. This could perhaps explain a slightly slower process than at the smaller crossings. Coming from Mendoza (or Uspallata) in Argentina, you will see the big Argentinean customs building as you drive out of Puente del Inca. You don’t have to stop here. The good part about this border crossing is that they have organized everything so that you can do all your paperwork at one border station. We actually stopped to ask if there were anything we should do on the Argentinean side, but were quickly send on towards Chile. So when you see this building (Los Horcones), keep driving.
Over the pass you get to the Chilean border station. The trucks park outside to the right, but if you can fit, drive right in and park on the left hand side inside the building.
The Migracion and Aduana offices are to your left. The “front row” of counters saying Migracion Argentina were reserved for bus passengers, so we were told to walk around (to the back) the isle and look for a window saying “Migracion Argentina” there. At this first window we got a form saying Chile-Argentina. Not sure why we would get this here, as we wanted to stamp OUT of Argentina, and as we don’t speak too much Spanish, we have some problems remembering what really happened here. After filling out the form (standard tourist permit form) we went back to the same window, got our exit stamps, and we were sent to the next window saying Migracion Chile. We also had the form with us from the first window, but I can’t remember if the guy there stamped it, or something. It could perhaps be that we were missing something from our entry into Argentina when we came in over Paso San Francisco. Anyway, it was not a problem. We got our entry stamp and proceeded to the next window saying Argentina Aduana. However, some truck drivers waiting in line told us to go around to the “front row” as this window was for truckers only. Which was good, as there was a lot of truckers, and nobody in line at the “other” Argentina Aduana (window number 3 in the picture). Amazing how Customs actually manage to complicate something that could be so simple…
We asked about the possibility to keep the vehicle import permit as we are going to cross the border between Chile and Argentina several times, but as far as we have been able to find out, this is not a possibility. So we checked the car out of Argentina, and were sent on to Chile Aduana in window number 4. After providing all the vehicle details in a Chilean vehicle permit form, the officer behind the desk put in a stamp and a signature, and we were told to bring the document to inspector. The inspectors are to be found in the area where you parked the vehicle, and they wear dark green uniforms with “SAG” written on them in big letters.
We found an inspector, and she came with us to the car. We gave the vehicle document to her. She asked if we had a lot of stuff with us, and we confirmed. Figured we were in for some time when she sighed after seeing what was in the car. I’m not sure what they expected to find, but they even wanted to have a dog to sniff around inside the car, and this was not a drug dog, it was a fruit and veggie dog!
I think the inspection took about half an hour, and I was a little surprised that all they took was half a cucumber and an onion. Alcohol was not an issue (at least not the quantities we had). Milk, cheese, dinner left overs, a salami, de-hy camping food, and even Malin’s collection of spices was okay (or maybe they didn’t see the spices…). Well, at last they were happy, and the vehicle document was returned. Drive out of the building, and stop at the exit gate for the last check of the vehicle document.
When we stopped here they told us we were missing a stamp, and at this point I might have sounded a little annoyed. They called back, probably to the inspectors, to confirm we were okay, and finally we were waved through. The whole process took us about an hour and a half, but at least we are back in Chile!