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My daughter is a new Foreign Service Officer, soon to be posted in Sri Lanka for 2 years. She is considering buying a car there and wants to know what to look for, how many miles are OK, etc. She needs help. I told her to ask someone there who might know the local situation for advice. I don’t feel confident in offering any suggestions, do you?

Yours is the best advice, it really depends on which maker is selling what models in Sri Lanka. Not something we know much about!

I don’t know about Sri Lanka…but in many 3rd world countries…there is an ever growing presence of US and foreign auto manufacturers.

First question is should she even be driving herself around there.

Maybe there’s someone rotating out who could sell her a car. Check the World Bank and ADB Resident Missions/Field Offices too. Has the embassy got a website?

She should talk to the US Embassy when she gets there and learn about driving in Sri Lanka. Some places are not safe for women (or men) to be driving, especially if you don’t speak the local language and look like a foreigner. I’ve lived, worked and owned cars in Mexico City, Moscow, London, Amsterdam, Thailand, etc. While living in those locations, I drove whatever car blended into the local traffic – a Lada in Moscow attracted much less attention than an import.

It’s great to have your own vehicle to explore the country, but make sure you understand the local rules and customs. In some countries, they can confiscate your car and throw you in jail for being involved in an accident (whether it’s your fault or not).

Taking public transportation during the work week and renting a car for weekend trips is another option.

You don’t buy cars in places like Shi Lanka until you have been there a few months and learn the ropes…Owning a car may be completely unnecessary…

Maybe the State Department has useful information. I assume that is her employer. She should find someone that has spent time in Sri Lanka or call the US Embassy or Consulate and see what they have to say.

A good condition used Hyundai Atos (or Atoz)

I would have her check with someone who is currently posted there. She needs to be sure the car “fits in”, that is isn’t an advertisement that she is new in town. She may find that buying there or even hiring a car may be the best solution. In any case check with those who have been there for a while.

“Foreign Service Officer”…The Embassy will provide her with a car and driver as needed…