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Importing tools

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83xlx
4/4/2019 15:57 EST

We are relocating to Uruguay from the US soon. I have a significant collection of tools for carpentry, metalworking and automotive repair. I am an engineer but don't have certificates in carpentry, metal fabrication or auto repair. I have heard various stories from no problem to absolutely not. Can someone that has successfully imported US tools give me some practical advice?

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carlitos
4/4/2019 16:21 EST

You can bring all your tools provided they are not powered by internal combustion. Be aware that here we are in 220v/50hertz and normal houses have limited power supply. Mine for example is connected to the electrical grid at 3.5kwatts but up to 10k i guess is normal.

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Morell
4/4/2019 16:31 EST

I assume you are aware of all the rules re residency, posting a bond/ or buying insurance for your "stuff" until you get permanent residency etc?
It can be a significant upfront cost as Customs decides on the value and the amount of the bond, ours was $12,000 US for one 20 foot container.

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Expat91364
4/4/2019 16:42 EST

I was 30 years in construction in the US and had a ton of tools. I brought them all with no problem. Except that most machines with motors really don't like the 50hz power and all run about 20% slower using a step down transformer.

I recently sold the lot of them and make do with Battery powered and a few new tools I bought But then I am retired and not building for living anymore.

For the most part I would say it is not worth it. unless it is a specialty item you must have and won't find here or will use infrequently. Biscuit joiner anyone?

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Expat91364
4/4/2019 16:46 EST

You pay a fixed charge for the Max KW you contract for. (then of course you pay for your actual usage) 6-8 is common but I just increased to 12 KW when I got US sized washer and dryer but you can go as high as needed if you have a lot running at the same time.

A registered Electrician will need to apply for you if you want to make a change but it is easy.

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Vortice
4/6/2019 07:45 EST

We imported tw0 20' containers last year containing lots of tools and left over construction parts, table saw, metal lathe ,drill press etc. In spite of reading a prohibition on the importation of all "trade" tools except for returning Uruguayos, it does not seem to be enforced (or the law has changed?). All my tools were clearly listed in the Spanish Language inventory, no problem for us. As previously stated; no internal combustion engines. Leave the chain saw behind. Actually most tools work perfectly here as most use brush motors, which do not care about frequency and will work perfectly on Direct Current, as long as the voltage is right. Induction motors (no brushes) have diminished function at the reduced frequency. Not only will the motor run 20% slower, it will produce 20% less horsepower which means it may or may not be able to do the work. Also, a 20% reduction in speed means that the motors cooling fan cannot cool as well, so watch motor temperature. Magnetic over saturation also increases current and motor temperature. In any event measure the current when the motor is first energized to be sure it does not exceed the full load amps (FLA) on the nameplate, then check again with the motor running at full mechanical load. It may be possible to improve the situation by reducing the voltage a bit further, but at that point it is probably easier to replace a single phase motor than to mess with boost/buck transformers.
Be prepared to the hefty deposit on your shipment that is required by the aduana. It is held until either you re-export all the same contents or are granted permanent residency. We were just granted same and will now start the process to reclaim our $18k.

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83xlx
4/6/2019 11:52 EST

Thank you for your reply, this gives me some hope. Things in Uruguay have gone fairly smoothly but the uncertainty in some areas are an added stress. I appreciate your time in responding.

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sylk
4/6/2019 12:04 EST

The other way to get your $$ from aduana before you are granted permanent residency is to use the property you own. Assuming your property is worth more than aduana is holding, you can go into BSE and apply to have your property held in lieu (a process that cost us $135), then you can have your $6-18,000 dollars back right away. This worked well for us, as we needed the nickles at that time. ;)

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dawsonpointers
5/9/2019 18:20 EST

Bring all you can find a place to keep them safe and dry.
Also bring many +2000W voltage regulated transformers, extension cords and power bars. I got mine on Amazon. I brought 3 transformers and wish I had brought 5. Get good extension cords and power bars. Stuff here is 20-22 gage.
Tools here are very expensive. I bought an 18V Milwaukee set of 2 batteries, charger, an impact drill and a drill/screwdriver/hammer drill kit in Canada for under $250CDN. Here, the drill alone sells for US$479. Yikes!

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dawsonpointers
5/9/2019 18:23 EST

Bring all you can find a place to keep them safe and dry.
Also bring many +2000W voltage regulated transformers, extension cords and power bars. I got mine on Amazon. I brought 3 transformers and wish I had brought 5. Get good extension cords and power bars. Stuff here is 20-22 gage.
Tools here are very expensive. I bought an 18V Milwaukee set of 2 batteries, charger, an impact drill and a drill/screwdriver/hammer drill kit in Canada for under $250CDN. Here, the drill alone sells for US$479. Yikes!

Just make sure that you specify that the tools are for personal use and that you are not using them for a business here.

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Vortice
5/10/2019 11:54 EST

As to transformers, I highly recommend the Litefuse LT3000 (we brought 2). It is an efficient, toroidal core (no buzzing!) and is rated at 3000 watts so table saws, lathes etc are no problem. I bought a small laminated core, 300 watt transformer here and it buzzes loudly. Remember to unplug or turn off transformers when not in use as they still chew power to keep the core magnetized whether a load is applied in or not.
I'll second the call for bringing quality extension cords. Wire size is determined by amperage not voltage, so at 120v one needs 10 or 12 ga. wire while the same power can can go through a much smaller wire (20-22ga) at 230v because the amperage is halved.
Power strips: try to find them with metal housing, not plastic, and without surge protection. I watched a plastic, surge protected strip fail during a large utility power surge. The plastic housing softened, opened, and a shower of sparks came out as the MOV surge protector fried. This could ignite a fire.

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