We own a 2004 Pajero Exceed, which I'd totally recommend if you're looking for a decent SUV size family car.
And after going through a lotttt of work, we've finally got it in decent shape to be an extremely amazing whip. (Separate blog posts for our works on it, for later).
I thought I'd start this blog series on owning a car in Solomon Islands, with the basics.
Getting your car registered & licensed.
We found our Pajero through a car dealer in Honiara (basically the one at the bottom of the Panatina hill - turn off at ANZ Haus Ranadi). If you're looking for a decent car for your budget, please ask for Murad if you're there. He absolutely took care of us when we went to him!
Murad transferred the ownership for us when we bought the Pajero off him, so that wasn't a issue for us. The issue for me was renewing the annual vehicle license when E left, and realizing there was more than one step in the process. And more than one place to go. *Sigh*
I found this helpful sheet online as well, that walks you through the steps to register your vehicle.
1. Vehicle inspection
Time it will take: approx. 2.5hrs
First you need to go MID (the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development) to pay your vehicle inspection fee.
It's the very funky building with the brickwork on the front, at the turn off to China Town from the City Council roundabout.
The MID cashier closes around 12pm for lunch and re-opens at 1.30pm, so be mindful of the opening hours if you're going on a weekday, as it might take a lot out of your work day if you're planning to do this over lunch.
Bring your car's registration paperwork and pay SBD $138 for the inspection fee, for which you'll get receipted.
Keep that receipt for when you get to the pool at the Public Works Department (PWD). It's in an area across the road from MID, past the World Vision office (old Sea King building), where you'll see a boom gate - and is where the actual inspection is done.
Note: PWD may be across the road, but since there's no direct turnoff from the roundabout, you have to go back into Point Cruz and turn at the Hot Bread roundabout.
There, you can either organise a day/time that's convenient for you and come back - or if you have time (sometimes up to an hour or two) to wait in line, they can usually get it done on the same day.
The inspection itself is quite quick - up to 30 minutes max - and the officer will check that your car is in working order. He'll check things like your brakes, indicator lights, horn, etc.
If your vehicle passes the inspection, the officer will then issue a certificate of inspection that you need to take to an insurance company or a broker.
*If your car is not passed (that's heartbreaking) - you will need to repair the parts the officer finds aren't working and come back again to PWD, another day.
Separate blog post for my recommended places to take a Mitsubishi Pajero here in Honiara, to keep your car in good running condition.
Time it will take: up to 30mins
Now to insure your car. We insure our property with QBE - but that's also because my husband works there. Our vehicle premium (with the staff discount) was $1,245 and including the $50 stamp duty, we paid SBD $1,295.
If you already have a preferred insurance company or broker, you now need to go to them and pay for your vehicle insurance (compulsory third party or CTP insurance - which is basically, insurance that covers you if you cause damage to another person's vehicle or property).
There are three main insurance companies in town: QBE Insurance and Tower Insurance whose offices are based at Panatina Plaza (about a 3 minute drive from PWD - longer if there's traffic) and Capital Insurance at Hyundai Mall (about a minute's drive from PWD, without traffic).
There are also four licensed brokers in town, who you can go to instead of the insurance companies, who will then act as your proxy between you and your insurance provider:
Pacific Insurance Broker Ltd (PIB) - located at Panatina Plaza (between QBE and Tower);
United Risk Services Ltd (URS) - located on Commonwealth Street; and
MAT Insurance Brokers Ltd - near Oba Store at Ranadi (a 7 minute drive from PWD); and
Marsh PTY Ltd - does not have an office, and its business is done from Australia or PNG.
Note: There may be more brokers entering the market. I'll update this post when I find out their details.
Choosing the right insurance is important, so make sure you pick a company that's best suited to your particular needs.
3. Issue of license
Time it will take: up to 1hr
Cost: up to $1,375
So you've paid for your vehicle's inspection (and it's been passed) and it's CTP insurance.
You now need to go to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD), pictured below:
You need to go to the IRD with both documents (your vehicle inspection and insurance documents) - and your lapsed car registration paperwork - and pay, either:
SBD $825 if your car is anything up to 2,000cc
SBD $1,375 if your car is 2,000cc* or more.
(Note: *CC is a unit of volume in cubic centimetres - so 2,000cc essentially means 2.00L. If you're unsure which category your car falls under, check the details under the engine hood near the engine back wall - ours is on the left. It's a metal plate with your vehicle's model, chassis and engine number.)
The officer at IRD will then give you your renewed registration paperwork and your sticker (and a slip pocket for your windscreen, if you're lucky and they haven't run out!).
And you're all done!
Vehicle inspection = $138
Vehicle insurance = approx $1,295
Vehicle license = $825 or $1,375
This is roughly up to SBD $3,000 to renew your annual vehicle license.
It's a hefty amount to spend in one go, BUT! if you've saved diligently throughout the year at say, $58 a fortnight - you can pay that money easily without batting an eye when the time comes ($29 a fortnight if you're doing this as a couple).
If you're not sure where to start, please read how I got my own finances in order, and see if you can apply the same in your own context.
I hope that was helpful for you. Please drop a comment on any tips you may also have.