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Buying and driving a car in Argentina

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Are there resources that could help me buy and drive a car in Argentina?

According to the State Department's Consular Information Sheet, found online at travel.state.gov/travel, U.S. driver's licenses are valid in the city and province of Buenos Aires, but Argentine or international licenses are required elsewhere.

In the United States, AAA is authorized to handle international driver's licenses, and an application can be found at aaa.com.

As far as buying and selling a car, Luciana Bieler, the spokeswoman for the National Secretary of Tourism, wrote in an e-mail that foreigners must present to car dealers a passport, proof of address and credit card to buy a vehicle.

You will also need to insure it (minimum coverage runs about 120 to 180 pesos a month - $40 to $60, at 3.1 pesos to the dollar), which can be done through the Argentine Automobile Club.

You will not be able to take it out of the country, Bieler said. The automobile club says the address requirement is met by declaring a legal domicile in Argentina before a notary public.

It recommends registering with the Administracion Federal de Ingresos Publicos - the equivalent of the Internal Revenue Service and popularly called AFIP - because there will be a commercial transaction. It is probably a good idea to join the automobile club, which is a solid institution with a wide network of mechanics, hotels and gas stations (with discounts on gas).

The club is at Avenida Libertador 1850, 1112 Capital Federal, Buenos Aires; 011-54-11-4802- 6061; www.aca.com.ar.

Any suggestions for a three-day cruise out of New York in the next couple of months?

Some ships berth in New York year round, but there are few cruises of under a week even in warmer months. According to NYC & Company, the city's tourism agency, the Queen Mary 2, the Norwegian Dawn and the Norwegian Spirit sail from Manhattan year round.

Starting next month, Holland America's newest ship, the Noordam, will be based in New York in the fall and winter. The Queen Mary 2 (cunard.com) is on a long cruise and won't sail from New York again until April 15. The Dawn (ncl.com) sails Feb. 12, March 5, 16 and 26 and April 6 on 10- and 11-day Caribbean voyages; the Norwegian Spirit will make seven-day Florida and Bahamas cruises from Feb. 19 to mid-May. The Noordam (hollandamerica.com) will make 10- and 11-day Caribbean cruises from New York, starting with its maiden voyage Feb. 22, until mid-April.

The first cruises of less than a week from New York appear to be the Norwegian Spirit's six-day Florida and Bahamas cruises on May 14 and 28. The Carnival Victory makes four-day sailings to Nova Scotia in June. Royal Caribbean (royalcaribbean.com) uses Port Cape Liberty in Bayonne, N.J., from May to October, including for the Explorer of the Seas' five-day sailings to Bermuda on May 14 and 28. Short winter cruises closest to New York require a trip to Florida: the Disney and (disneycruise.com) and Carnival (carnival.com) lines offer weekly three- and four-day Bahamas cruises from Port Canaveral, Fla.

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