Moving a Tesla to a country that does not support tesla

Moving a Tesla to a country that does not support tesla

Hey guys
I`ve been on the forums before , i was trying to purchase a model S , but it`s been increasingly difficult
I am not in the US , i am on a island , No where near a tesla dealer , errr shop .
The main problem i have is , when i called tesla and explained them the situation , they said you can buy it and take it with you , but it will be your problem
As in no warranty or anything , i get that and its perfectly logical , i can deal with most things , as in if there is something wrong with the vehicle maybe i can fly out a qualified tesla mechanic to work on the car ??? , i would pay for the costs ,i think thats reasonable .
But where it goes kind of sour to me , is if i get in a collision , tesla would not sell you any parts , i kind of understand why they do this , at least i have a pretty good idea , however it does make it kind of difficult to own one here .
I cannot be the only one who has tried to do this ,my question is , are there any other people who have attempted this , and if so , how have you done it ?

-Gman- | January 19, 2017

Which island? If large enough (e.g. Malta), you might try connecting with other potential owners. If there are enough of you, you might lobby a local body shop to become Tesla Authorized (probably have to contribute to their cost of doing so).

TesMD | January 19, 2017

Hi Michael,
People have bought the car and have taken it to conutries that as of now has no Tesla service center or support however as you mentioned, they have taken the responsibility of trying to maintain or deal with any issues that may come up. It would be helpful if you told the forum which island you are planning to take the car to and where would be the closet service center to you and Tesla authorized body shop. In all honesty anything can be done if you are willing to spend enough money. If issues rise with your car, you can always ship it back to service center to get it serviced if it is reasonable. There are people in the forum that have worked on their cars and have made major modifications and done repairs by themselves. Obviously, if you need a drive train replacement, that needs to be done by Tesla but many minor fixes can probably be done by anyone who knows their way around cars.

Good luck with your desicion

High Plains Drifter | January 19, 2017

Sounds a recipe for failure.

reed_lewis | January 19, 2017

As much as I like the Tesla, I would never purchase one anywhere there is not a good company system in place for repairs, etc.

Also a Tesla relies on a cellular connection which most likely would not work in the countries that it is not sold in.

barrykmd | January 19, 2017

High Plains Drifter and reed_lewis +1

michael | January 19, 2017

I am on the island of Curacao , which is nowhere near a tesla center , i dont believe working on the car is the main difficulty , i mean there are lambo`s here running and i have seen 2 or 3 tesla`s running here (i do not know these people ) so working on the car i dont think is the problem , and i guess worse case , i could fly some one in , sending the car back (from an island) is way too much a hassle , the paperwork and delays alone would be like a episode of game of thrones .
The main problem i see ,is that Tesla does not sell parts (or at least from what i understand ) , so if i run into a problem with say a door handle , and i need a door handle , they will not sell it to me .(but will they sell it to you if a Tesla certified mechanic is flown over to install it ???)
Or if someone smashes my window , Tesla wont sell me a window? , and this makes me a bit nervous , or at least uneasy , you can baby it as much as you want but accidents happen .

Regarding the cellular connection , i`ve heard of people changing sim cards , and or using wifi hotspots , and this is a "work around " to that problem , can this be confirmed ?

Rocky_H | January 19, 2017

I knew this sounded familiar.
@michael, Most of these questions were answered from your post asking about this in October.

michael | January 19, 2017

Rocky , yes i was pushing hard for this , and still am , Tesla shot me down immediately , with a "just No" , i still do not want to give up on the idea , the previous thread while very helpful , it answered some questions , but not all .
I know i ask a lot , and i hope i dont come off as some asshat , if i do i apologize in advance .
I am trying to see if i can work around some of these issues by seeing if anyone else has already attempted this and if so how ?

Rocky_H | January 19, 2017

@michael, Yeah, I know it's a difficult issue. I still think the best advice was in the other thread. You said you've seen some other Teslas there on the island. People said that the best possible advice and information you could get was to go meet some of those other owners. I'm sure it's a pretty tight community, being in such an adventurous situation, so if you meet one of them, they could probably introduce you to a couple others. They would have the best information of what the issues are and the level of ease or difficulty in dealing with them.

Have you gone to introduce yourself to another Tesla owner there yet? | January 19, 2017

Quite a few Teslas on Maui. They don't have a service center, but have two options - ferry the car to Oahu service center (another island), or have a ranger come to Maui. It's been known that a ranger visit can be shared among owners to reduce costs - so if you get to know your other owners you could schedule a shared visit. I don't know if Tesla would be willing to send a ranger to a non-supported area. My guess is they would not, but never hurts to ask - especially if you're paying for it.

The cellular connection issue is not a huge problem. Google maps will only work in WiFi range (i.e. not much while driving), and streaming music will also be limited. You should get software updates if you can supply a WiFi connection. The internal Garmin navigation map will also likely not cover your island.

As for basic parts, Tesla has no problem selling them. I've bought Tesla parts for projects without a snag. Some parts are restricted. These include major body parts (i.e. a fender), some upgrade items (i.e. a subwoofer if you car does not already have one), and I'd guess some safety items like airbags. You can often get some of these "restricted" parts from eBay - where sellers often strip a totaled car to get parts.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

Haggy | January 19, 2017

Tesla does sell parts, although they don't have a clear and public policy. Collision parts are a potential problem, and Tesla doesn't want to sell them to body shops that aren't certified by Tesla. Something like a door handle you'd probably be able to buy, and I've seen plenty of them on e-Bay. If you did have a problem with a door handle, it would most likely be the small motor or circuit board inside the handle assembly, but Tesla doesn't sell that separately so you'd have to buy the whole assembly. However, a good mechanic familiar with basic body work should be able to take the door apart and swap those out from one purchased on eBay.

Personally I'd be hesitant to do it. I've had a number of issues that Tesla has taken care of for me, and if I had to ship the car to them each time, it wouldn't have been worth it. However, not a single one rendered the car undriveable. Chances are that if I had decided to wait until my warranty was about to expire, I could have lived with gear noise, a misaligned molding, and a door handle that required me to lean over to let a passenger in. I probably would have replaced the handle on my own. I had an experience with bad wiper blades, and would have taken care of that on my own.

I personally grew up on an island, but these days Tesla has a showroom and service center there. I have no idea how long it will take before they get to your area. Personally I'd wait, but you wouldn't be the first to do what you're trying to do, and be successful.

michael | January 19, 2017

The island i am on , highly doubt Tesla will be for here for the foreseeable future , its a very small island , and not everyone is open to new ideas .
That being said , small things on a car is no big deal for me , i would like to have this as a daily driver , but if its incapacitated for a short while its no big deal , because i have other cars .
I was told , they wouldn`t sell me anything parts-wise , which i thought was odd , but that was what i was told , and this was a straight arrow in the knee for me .
As weird as this is i haven't been able to find tho other tesla owners here , honestly i dont see the tesla`s running anymore either , that could also mean bad news . , i dont understand why they would have told me they would sell me anything , and yet still some items they will sell .
Also if i setup my phone as a hotspot , wouldn't the car use its internet connection as a wifi ? Just asking out of curiosity .

Rocky_H | January 19, 2017

@michael, Quote: "Also if i setup my phone as a hotspot , wouldn't the car use its internet connection as a wifi ? Just asking out of curiosity ."

Yeah, that part is pretty easy and would solve the data issue. | January 19, 2017

@Rocky - I forgot about that solution. Ok, another item taken care of!

On the parts - the difference is they may not sell and ship to your country. When I buy parts, I go into the local service center and buy the part. Usually it's in stock, but if not, they are happy to order it and call when it arrives - usually few days later. Also I'm an owner, so they may not sell to anyone off the street, but I don't know if that matters or not.

With eBay parts, you usually can get it sent anywhere. There is a wide range of prices on eBay, sometimes higher than the Tesla new price - so it depends how desperate you are and if it is available at all from Tesla (i.e.Tesla sold body parts are limited to Tesla approved body shops).

So if you have a friend in the USA or Europe, perhaps they can buy a part you need and ship it to you.

akikiki | January 19, 2017

michael, maybe you should consider stocking up on some parts in advance, if you are determined you are going to bring a Tesla to your island. You know, if you find a decent deal on fenders or wheels or nosecone, go ahead and bring them home.

michael | January 20, 2017

Hey guys , in a stroke of complete luck (or maybe destiny) i managed to bump into one of the tesla owners here , at the risk of looking like a psycho tesla groupie , i musterd up the courage to talk to the guy .
Turns out he might be an even greater geek that i am ( i mean this in the best way possible ) , and super nice guy , he seemed to have most of it figured out , however nothing bad has happened to him , so his plan isn`t "battle tested , but it is a solid plan .
the parts as stated by TeslaTap , if you own a Tesla they will sell you parts (certain of them at least) however they have a policy about shipping parts to other countries , i get this as well , but i think therein lies the confusion .
For body parts , i was told there is a method , honestly i think its more a loophole than anything else , so if it`s cool with you guys i would rather not discuss it here on the forum , not that its illegal or anything but just in case .
in any case this has opened my eyes , and has given me new hope , i still need to figure out a few small details , but i think those are minor .
Also being a small island range is no issue at all , the 60kw car can run a full week (possibly more) with daily use
Do you guys have any more tips for me ? or anything you guys think i might have left out?

Rocky_H | January 20, 2017

@michael, Wow, that sounds great. Did you get a chance to see if he knew any other owners there? It might be good to talk with a couple of others to see if they have any other bits of advice or strategies.

barrykmd | January 20, 2017

Michael - I wonder if there if a connection is possible between Tesla Netherlands and Curacao. That should avoid any problems with parts, import restrictions, etc.

michael | January 20, 2017

@Rocky , funny thing its of those islands thats small but just not small enough , it appears we both know more or less who one of the other guys is , but not how to contact him (where/how, etc ), but i think i will push further , who knows we might get our own small community .
@barry , Curacao is part of the dutch monarchy , we have mostly dutch rules and regulations (adapted of course) , i am not sure if there would be a connection with Tesla Netherlands , or maybe it automatically flows over ??, it could be worth a shot to call them maybe ? the main disadvantage , is the connection between the States is much better than with the Netherlands (closer/faster/cheaper) .
But as you mentioned it might be worth a try , i will try and get some info on it , see where it leads | January 20, 2017

@michael - Great news. I hope it all works out. You might also check how other cars are imported to the island and how they handle a car without a dealer/service on the island.

buickguy | January 20, 2017

My recommendation would be to buy a used Tesla, probably from a third-party seller and not a CPO car as the warranty would be worthless. Have your used car checked out carefully before shipping to your home island, perhaps even driving it for a week or two or so before making the shipment decision. Why used? Because the almost inevitable bugs of a new car will be long ago sorted out.

akikiki | January 20, 2017

a lot of good ideas here.

Haggy | January 21, 2017

I agree that the notion of buying used, rather than CPO has merit. If the sale is from a private party, I'd insist that the seller take it in for the annual service prior to selling it though, even if the cost of that is added to the selling price.

michael | January 23, 2017

Guys , i keep hearing that buying a used one is a better decision , i am open to this as well (actually it allows for more options as well ) , either way i never thought of it in that light though , also i have no use for the supercharger network , will this factor in as well ?
I have been checking local laws and import restrictions , turns out import duties on regular cars go up to 33/35% , import duties on a full ev (not hybrids) is 0% , so that's actually a pretty good incentive , so i will basically pay for the car and shipping and i am done (probably some minor paperwork i am assuming ) , you guys have any ideas where to look for good used teslas ??

Riccor | January 23, 2017

@Michael - try here:

michael | January 23, 2017

@Riccor, question what does the "refresh " mean and also you guys should be able to tell me this , i know on a regular ICE car , miles matter a lot , is it the same as with EV`s ? , i know there are some differences , what should i be looking for , any good tips ? | January 23, 2017

The model S had a visual refresh around April 2016 that changed the front bumper look and switched to LED headlights. There were a few other changes, but that is the most visible. The base car (battery, drive unit, software, interior) was not changed in the refresh. Pre refresh RWD cars also have a much bigger frunk (front trunk), which may matter to some.

Haggy | January 23, 2017

With an ICE, the parts that are subject to the most mileage related wear are also the ones that can make it cost prohibitive to repair an old one. With a Tesla, battery life is good even for high mileage cars. Aside from the bearings, no other parts in the motor housing are subject to friction wear. Bearings are typically good for hundreds of thousands of miles, but on earlier cars, Tesla didn't use what they use in later cars, and it's not uncommon for earlier cars to get bearing noises. Normally that's not a problem with an eight year warranty. If you buy a used car, there will be plenty that never had the problem. In theory you'd be better off with one that had the problem and that Tesla swapped the drive unit to fix the problem. That might be getting too specific for a vehicle search though. Industrial motors similar in nature to what Tesla uses in the cars are designed for non-stop operation close to 24 hours a day for a decade or more, which translates to more than a million miles if used on an EV. There's no proof that the motor will last that long, but that's the goal of the design.

michael | January 23, 2017

What is the average/expected, lifespan of a battery, or can it even be measured?
Is that the most expensive part? That can go bad?
So basically any year model S (preferably later though) as long as it either has the "better engine bearings" or has had the upgrade done should be a good buy?

Haggy | January 23, 2017

Battery wear isn't likely to be a big problem. Personally I've had almost none in 37,000 miles and 2.4 years. My daily charge today showed one mile of range less than it did when it was new. But on most days recently it didn't show any loss. There are others who have more loss but it seems to slow down after the first year. In countries with superchargers, it's not likely to affect how many times you stop and may not affect how long you need to charge. In your case, it depends on usage. If you drive about 50 km each day and charge each night, then even a battery that's a decade or two old might not be a problem.

If you consider the age of the car, the mileage, and how much range it gets with a full charge, that will give you a better idea of how much range loss it had, and it will likely slow down in the future. I don't typically see range at 100% charge advertised in car ads, but it's worth asking.

akikiki | January 23, 2017

Another source for used Teslas. These are private sales versus from Tesla

Pungoteague_Dave | January 23, 2017

@michael, I know it won't assuage your concerns if they already said no, but I have purchased Tesla parts, and in two cases, they shipped directly to me. They do sell to non-affiliated body shops too. Curacao has body shops, so maybe Tesla would deal with them?

My hesitation would be that a lot of the repairs I've experienced have required Tesla-exclusive diagnostic equipment. For example, when my main screen and ECU failed, I doubt anyone but Tesla could have made the repair. Windshields, mirrors, and the like, you'd probably be okay, but for the things like drive units, not so much.

michael | January 24, 2017

@Haggy , good info to know and consider , i am wondering if it will matter that i will be charging the car LESS than someone in the states , the distances here are short (it is after all an island) compared to U.S. or Europe , so the car might not be charged everyday (maybe it wont need to ) , the other owner i spoke with said his 60 , he would mostly charge it on weekends .
On an island that is around 180/190 square miles , the range of a 60kw is around 200~205 miles , the range needs of this island would basically be a joke to a 60kw (pretty much anything above that would be overkill , please correct me if i am wrong)
But what would be better recommended or what have you guys experienced , better to charge everyday or only when needed
@aikikiki i will most definitely look at those listings as well
@dave To your knowledge are these failures common ? ,

Rocky_H | January 24, 2017

@michael, Quote: "But what would be better recommended or what have you guys experienced , better to charge everyday or only when needed"

That doesn't really make a different when or how often you charge, so it's probably best/easiest to go ahead and plug it in as often as you can remember--no reason not to have the range available. State of charge is the only thing that really matters much. Just try to keep away from the extreme ends of the charge range most of the time, so don't be outside of something like 10% to 90% most of the time.

Pungoteague_Dave | January 24, 2017

@michael, Tesla's repair issues are no longer as common at they were in 2013 and 2014, but my hesitation would be that some kind of Tesla-only service is likely to be required in every car's lifespan, and the chances of it happening would preclude me from owning one of these outside of Tesla's umbrella. If you need a drive unit, one of the more common major repairs, Tesla does it routinely here (I have had two), no big deal. If it happens outside of service area, you can usually still drive your car (with a milling sound), but you'd have to ship it to get the repair. That is the kind of part replacement situation that I doubt Tesla would ever allow a third party or owner to tackle.

This is a very personal call - I would not own any vehicle where I can't be guaranteed of service. I own BMW motorcycles, not because I like them better than Triumphs, Hondas, Yamahas, KTMs, or Ducattis, but because they are the only bike that I have been able to have serviced anywhere - whether in Christchurch NZ, Santiago Chile, Krasnoyarsk Siberia, Chengdu China, Nairobi Kenya, Reykjavik Iceland, or Kigali Rwanda. Honda is close, but no other motorcycle builder can claim worldwide service and parts availability, so no real choice in my case. Cars are maybe a bit less service-sensitive, but something as specialized as a Tesla would give me pause in your situation.

Haggy | January 24, 2017

"For example, when my main screen and ECU failed, I doubt anyone but Tesla could have made the repair. "

I doubt that, but I also doubt that anybody but Tesla could properly diagnose it. If Tesla couldn't figure out the problem by looking at the data, it might be cheaper to shotgun the repair than to ship the car far away. It might mean replacing thousands of dollars worth of components unnecessarily, but if you replace everything related, you should be able to get it fixed, as long as you can get the parts. Right now there's little need for used parts of the type that would be needed for a main screen or ECU problem. A salvage yard in the US might have a hard time selling those things off, but might be glad to box them up and send them to a foreign country after buying a wreck for very little money.

hombergen | January 11, 2019


I’m very interested in this thread and I’m in the same situation now as you Michael, I would like to buy a Tesla model 3 for in Curaçao and I’m questioning myself on a lot of the problems that I could face as there is no service center.
Have you decided/managed to get your Tesla on Curaçao ?How has it been going so far ?
Would be awesome to have some feedback from you :)

M. Hombergen

rangkasa | October 1, 2019

hello, i live in a different country / island and planning to get a tesla also. my question is whether the tesla app will work in a country where tesla does not have presence or dealers?


murphyS90D | October 1, 2019

A US car uses the AT&T cellphone network to connect to Tesla's servers in California. If the car can't connect to a Tesla server the app is not going to work.