Kolkata - Post Report Question and Answers
What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
Don't bring one. Buy one there. It's right-hand driving, so most folks buy cars from departing personnel. YOU WILL NEED A DRIVER. Don't think you can get along fine. You can't. The roads change directions in some places at some random appointed hour during the day. There is no signage that outlines what streets change and at what time. Your driver will be with the car when you are not, or it will be parked in a gated garage at other times, so burglary is not a super concern. It's more about the gangs of children, severely injured adults, elderly, and other unique groups banging and begging at each stop light. Keep your windows rolled up. - Aug 2021
The roads are bad but everything from a small economy car to a big SUV will get you around the city streets. I like being a bit higher up so like SUV. It’s right-hand drive. - Dec 2020
It is difficult to import a vehicle to India now. Obtain one locally and I recommend buying an elevated vehicle to deal with the monsoons. - Sep 2015
There are a lot of restrictions on importing cars, so check with the post. I bought one locally - and that is what most people do. It's right-hand drive and most people have a driver because this is some crazy traffic. - Jun 2009
It is difficult to bring U.S. cars into India unless they are quite new. Many people buy used cars here. The process is a pain. Buying a new car and getting the tax off is about a 6 month process, or more. Then, you can only sell it to another diplomat or the buyer has to pay the tax. Sedans are fine for the most part but a small SUV is nice for clearance and the monsoon. Everyone hires a driver, which is pretty much a necessity. The driving is incredibly stressful, no rules AND the streets in the downtown change directions every 8 hours for traffic flow. - Mar 2009
The roads here are really rough. Monsoon season also means waterlogged days when only the high clearance vehicles can dare to attempt driving. We bought a (low clearance) car locally and have generally been pleased. India drives on the left side and spare parts of U.S./European-made cars won't be readily available here. We even have had difficulty locating spare parts for our locally made Ford! - May 2008