Buying and selling new cars now legal in Cuba

More than 2700 new cars are purchased in Australia every day. Plenty more used car are bought and sold. It’s a natural part of life for us, and for many our cars are the most exciting and memorable purchases of our lives. They are also ones that most of us take for granted.
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Overnight, the Cuban Government finally legalised the purchase and sale of vehicles for all citizens.

Until now, Cubans who wanted to buy or sell a car were limited to vehicles built before the 1959 revolution. If you’ve ever been to Cuba, you would know it’s one of the only places in the world that is still crawling with classic American cars from the 1950s, complete with 10 tonnes of chrome and fins to shame a Great White.

The only people who could purchase newer cars were the country’s ‘elite’, like doctors, athletes and government officials, who were allowed to bring cars back after travelling overseas.

The new law, which comes into effect on Saturday, allows all residents to purchase a car, or multiple cars – although admittedly with a few caveats.

Dealerships will be limited to a select group of state-owned operations, and the price of each car comes with a four per cent tax. The biggest hurdle will be the regulation that requires all prospective car owners to prove that they earned their money legitimately (not through illegal methods or as gifts from family overseas).

The restrictions of the past led to a rampant black market for vehicle sales, which continues today. The previous laws also mean that 1950s cars are in strong demand, and are often sold for thousands of dollars more than modern cars overseas.

The new laws are expected to make little change to the lives of most Cubans, however. With most citizens earning just $20 per month, a new car will still be as inaccessible as it has been for the past 50 years.