Sourcing Vehicles

On this page:

  • Sourcing options
  • Rent or buy?
  • Rental
  • Buying second hand
  • Shipping and customs
  • Loan or donation
  • Donor conditions

Vehicles (whether light or heavy) are likely to take up a significant portion of your budget.  Where do you find the best deal? 

Sample forms, agreements and checklists may be downloaded from the Logistics Resources Bank

Sourcing options

When looking for the best source, how to get the best prices and best delivery times are likely to be key considerations - but also whether it's necessary to buy. Vehicles can be:

  • Rented locally
  • Loaned from another organisation or programme
  • Redeployed from another operation
  • Purchased (new or second hand)
  • Donated
  • Provided by the government

Rent or buy?

Consider the following factors:

1.  Expected length of operation. If the expected length of the operation is short, (3 - 6 months), or the situation is very unstable, it may be better to rent, loan or re-deploy rather than purchase vehicles, because of high initial costs.

2.  Comparative costs. Compare the cost of renting vehicles with the cost of purchasing them (including delivery costs). Consider purchasing second-hand vehicles if they are in good enough condition.

3.  Servicing and other benefits. Take into account that renting vehicles will include servicing and other benefits (such as drivers, insurance) which would need to be separately arranged if the vehicles are re-deployed, purchased, or loaned;

4.  Time. Purchasing new vehicles can be very time consuming, because of long delivery times (in the case of heavy duty vehicles for relief operations this can take up to 8 months).


Renting a vehicle minimises the outlay of capital sums and over a short period can work out cheaper than buying.  To make sure that the vehicle is reliable and safe, it is advisable to discuss your requirements with the provider and have a written vehicle rental agreement with them.  You may want to ask the driver to be tested and have the vehicle examined for serviceability. See also in the resource bank: checklist for rental agreement.

If your rent vehicles on on a daily basis irrespective of distance travelled or fuel used, days used and payments can be recorded in a daily rent vehicle log.

Buying second hand

Buying second hand can be relatively quick and cheap. Social networks are often very useful for finding vehicles.  Wherever you are buying from - whether from a local supplier, INGO or UN agency - it's always a good idea to check their reliability.  Where possible, get a detailed maintenance history and get the vehicle checked by an independent mechanic.

A second hand vehicle checklist gives a guide on the areas of the vehicle to check, and what to look for.

Shipping and customs

The government may also have rules on what vehicle types can be brought in.  It's also advisable to check vehicle duty and taxes well in advance.

Customs procedures can be lengthy and it's worth discussing with other organisations before importing.  Government regulations may require that the shipping is handled by local clearing agents.

Loan or donation

When vehicles are loaned or donated, make sure you have a written agreement with the person or organisation providing them.  This would need to specify the vehicle details (license plate, make, type, chassis number, engine number, year of construction, colour, km reading, any visible damage, inventory), and the conditions under which the loan or donation is made.

Donor conditions

Funding for vehicles sometimes comes with conditions attached - a vehicle make may be specified, or you may be required to buy from the donor country.  If you're concerned that this could lead to an inappropriate purchase, it may be possible to re-negotiate.