Chennai - 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?

Small sedans/coupes/hatchbacks, mini SUVs. Low risk of burglary and carjacking. - Aug 2021

You can only import a right-side drive car and there are many restrictions with regard to age, pollutions controls, etc. Many people buy cars from other officers and some purchase locally. The process of registration is a bit laborious but can be done in less than two months. - Apr 2021

Buy local. - May 2019

Best to buy a car in Chennai. Best bet is the popular Toyota Innova or a local model; Tata or Mahindra which is easy and cheap to service. Not a good idea to buy an expensive car here, as imported cars carry HUGE import duties. With any luck, your company will supply you with a company car and driver as part of your package and you don't have to worry much about this. - Aug 2018

Buying a car from an outgoing officer will be significantly easier for you than any other option. You can also buy a car on the local economy, from another expat, from another post, etc., but expect many months of bureaucracy before you can drive it. SUVs, mini-vans and sedans are all common--just depends on your needs. More and more singles and couples without kids are opting to rely on public transport and not buy a car. I don't think this would be feasible with children, however. - May 2018

Must buy local. There is a trade-off between getting a big car that will survive the crashes you will most definitely be in and a small car that is more maneuverable. Many people told me before arrival that a car is a must, but it's not true. You can get by with Uber, Ola, auto-rickshaws, and hiring weekend drivers with cars for longer trips. - May 2016

You cannot import vehicles into India. Buy a car locally. - May 2015

You cannot import cars so people buy a new car (which can take a few months) or buy one from someone leaving post. - Mar 2015

Cannot import cars so have to buy a new car (which can take a few months) or purchase one from someone leaving post. - Oct 2014

A regular car is fine but I would not get anything fancy. Driving is crazy in India. - Oct 2014

It has to be right hand drive and by far the easiest thing to do is buy one from a departing expat. - Jun 2014

You can't bring a car, so try to think ahead of your move and buy from someone who is leaving. Don't buy a car which you care about keeping pristine - bumps and scrapes are a given here. - May 2014

You can't bring a car, so you either have to buy from someone who is leaving or buy on the local market and wait a few months to get your car. - Aug 2013

Buy a smaller, cheaper, car here. You have to see the driving style to believe it. - Jul 2012

Do not bring a car. Get it here. India insists that it will only allow importation of right-hand drive vehicles; moreover, there is a tightening of environmental restrictions that is affecting even folks who try to import cars from Japan and the like. Also note that some cars cannot be repaired here. On the other hand, either start learning stick-shift, or look hard for an automatic when you get here. Consider buying an Indian car, they are nothing like the old Ambassadors that you'll still occasionally see. - Aug 2011

There is every kind of car on the road from small to large. The Government does not allow importation of Left hand drive any more and it is difficult to get them fixed and to drive thre anyway. Most people would buy a car from Japan and have it shipped in or just buy one when they arrived. Having some ground clearance is good. I would not take a new car or fancy car as traffic is bumper to bumper to motorcycle to autorickshaw to giant buses to mass of humanity on the roads. - Jun 2010

Landrovers tend to fall apart here easily. Ford/Toyota/Hyundai would probably be okay for parts. - Sep 2009

I would suggest something small for parking but with clearance. The local government erects huge speed bumps to control motorists speed. I frequently scrape bottom in my car. - Aug 2008


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