Tracey, a British ex-pat living in Brittany, contacted us to ask the following question: I am thinking of exporting a UK bought LHD car to France. The car would be registered in Poland. Is this possible? How difficult would it be?
EXPORTING A UK BOUGHT LHD CAR TO FRANCE (OR EUROPE)
We did a little bit of investigating, and found out that many people choose to buy a LHD car in the UK and import it into Europe. This way they are hoping to save money. Indeed, it is usually cheaper to buy a second-hand LHD car in the UK than it is in France. This is still a very niche market. The majority of left-hand drive cars sold in the UK are brought in by British expats returning home, or by continental Europeans moving to the UK. Both types of vendors are looking to replace their car with a right-hand drive. As a general rule, the majority of LHD dealerships are located in the South of the UK, where the expats selling their cars are based.
However, exporting a UK-bought LHD car into continental Europe, in this case France, can be challenging and costly. Bear in mind that you usually have 12 months to bring your car to your new country after changing your normal residence.
MOVING TO A EUROPEAN COUNTRY FOR MORE THAN 6 MONTHS:
What to do if you move to another EU country:
- register your car
- change your number plate
- show proof of car ownership and proof that the car has passed a roadworthiness test
- pay car registration and road taxes in your new country.
What to do when you leave:
- deregister your car
- hand in the number plate
- show proof of car ownership and a proof that the car has passed a roadworthiness test
- put in a claim for a car registration tax refund.
If you have already paid car registration taxes in your previous country of residence, you may be able to apply for a tax refund there. In some cases, however, you may end up paying double taxes depending on the country you are moving to for less than 6 months.
MOVING TO A EUROPEAN COUNTRY FOR LESS THAN 6 MONTHS:
If you move to another EU country intending to stay for less than 6 months, you don’t have to register your car or pay any registration taxes there. You can keep your car registered in your country of residence. On the other hand, you may need to pay road taxes. Road taxes are due for the use of your car, in your new country. It is a good idea to always have your car registration certificate, certificate of ownership and proof of your permanent residency with you when driving in case you are stopped by the police and need to prove where you are subject to taxation.
Until you register your car in your new country, you cannot lend or rent it to a resident of that country if you are not travelling in the car with them. However, you are allowed to lend your car to visiting friends or relatives so long as they do not have their permanent residence in your new country.
It is advisable to check the rules which apply in your country and the country you are moving to.
You may incur penalty points or fines in the following instances:
- if you have to register your car but you fail to do so on time
- not paying the relevant taxes
- driving with a number plate from another EU country without proof of residency and a valid roadworthiness test.
Please refer to the website of the relevant national authority to check the exact rules that apply in the country you are moving to. It is advisable to bear in mind that with Brexit looming in the near future, rules and regulations may well change.
This is a very complex subject, which can also be quite confusing. Driving in France is such a pleasure, but remember that bureaucracy and administration are very intricate there. Therefore, if you can help out with an answer or other advice, please add your comment to this post below.