Bringing Film and Video Equipment into Argentina

If you are planning on shooting a movie, TV program, photo shoot or documentary in Argentina you are probably considering bringing in your own video, film or photo equipment.

Maybe it is just a Sony EX cam, or a red, or a light kit–you already own it, so why not bring it? But then you find out that Argentina is not a Carnet country. . .

If you are planning on bringing in equipment (even small amounts!) these are the procedures to follow:

1) Determine if you will need work visas by talking with your local Argentine Consulate and contacting San Telmo Productions (they are necessary for some types of shoots). Have your local production company in Argentina (or fixer) send a letter to get a temporary work visa for every crew member, or at the very least those who are bringing in equipment. The production company or fixer must be registered with the RENURE (registry of companies that work with foreigners). These letters have a minimal cost and you will then use them to get a temporary work visa in your country of origin. If you are applying for permits in national parks you will be asked to provide proof of work visas, and this is true for other sensitive locations. These are pretty easy to get, and take about 10 to 20 days. We recommend them.

2) You will need to work with a customs broker to obtain temporary import insurance. This insurance ensures that if you don’t leave the country with your equipment (the government is scared that you will sell it in Argentina) the insurance company will pay all fines. This cost of this insurance is based on the declared cost of your equipment. It is not refundable if you do leave with all of your equipment. The cost is quite affordable.

3) Work with your local production company in Argentina to determine if it is more cost efficient to rent in Argentina or pay the temporary import insurance.


At San Telmo Productions, we can help you obtain letters for work visas as we are registered with RENURE and walk you through the import process.  We want to make your experience in Argentina as pleasant as possible and get you in and out of customs as quickly as possible:

“I wanted to thank you guys for making Buenos Aires a good shoot! You handled it very well, our gear had no issues in or out, drivers were excellent, logistics excellent so I have to thank you both for making it all happen!  I appreciate it very much!!!!!! I will use you guys in the future for sure! I hope to come back to BA soon!” – John Kalning Line Producer/UPM, A Day in the Life Inc. (USA) “Gene Simmons Family Jewels” A&E


4 thoughts on “Bringing Film and Video Equipment into Argentina

  1. Hi Charles,
    Unfortunately the rules aren’t written down. It does not depend on how many people (a lot of big commerical projects just have one person bring in all the equipment) and if it something a normal tourist would bring in (a laptop, small tripod, 5D or small video recorder) it shouldn’t be a problem. But if you are bringing in professional equipment, even if it is just you, you could have a problem. The best way is to contact a local production company like San Telmo Productions and show them the list of equipment you have, they can determine if it is best to “risk it” or hire a local company to help with customs.

  2. Expect a shakedown every step of the way, and when it only happens half the time, be happy. Words don’t really matter. Laws don’t really matter. Gatekeepers rule autonomously, and if you want to pass to the next step, you gotta pay. I learned this the hard way, and now factor it into the “cost-of-doing-business” equation whenever considering work in Argentina and Brazil. It’s called corruption, and you might as well get used to it.

  3. We are sorry you had such a bad experience. Our crews have never gotten a shake-down or been asked to pay bribes if they follow the clear instructions that we tell them. What does happen is that sometimes crews do not declare all their items and then this causes extra fees (one crew tried to sneak in dozens of hard drives!). There is a cost involved in bringing in equipment legally that we always budget clearly–some crews decide to rent locally because of the fees. We do agree that it would be nicer for Argentina to adopt the carnet system so that there would be little cost to bringing in film equipment. Argentina is always changing, so it is important to work with a local production company who can walk you through the steps. BTW, we have heard that Brazil is worse than Argentina, but each experience and even airport can be different.

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