Import vehicles: top tips for buying a car without borders

Who wants to save with the car purchase, should throw a view over the borders. In neighboring countries, the new car can be up to a third cheaper. But not always the heart beats for a new model. All types of used cars can be imported from all over the world. However, there are a few things to keep in mind.

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Importing within the EU can be worthwhile

BMW's largest plant is not located in Bavaria, but in South Carolina. Here mainly the SUVs are built, which are in demand all over the world. This makes the Munich-based company the number 1 car exporter in the U.S.

The example shows that the automotive industry thinks globally. However, this only applies to the production, but not to the prices. These vary from country to country. This applies above all to the economic area EU. So the same current Golf model costs less in Spain than in Germany. The reason for the price fluctuations is the net pricing of the manufacturers. This is based on the purchasing power of the respective market. This means that importing a vehicle opens up a low-cost alternative. However, this only applies to the volume segment. The more expensive the car, the lower the difference.

Used car annual average price per country

Used car annual average price per country

(Source: autoscout24.en)

The tax rules of the place of registration apply

In addition, one pays duties and taxes where the car is registered. This means that the registration fees in the car’s country of origin no longer apply. Example Italy: Here you pay fees for the registration in the Pubblico Registro Automobilistico. If the car goes to Germany, however, the standard rates there apply. In addition, the sales tax rates are reduced. In Sweden, the rate is 25 percent. In the Netherlands and Spain, 21 percent VAT is added, while in Germany it’s only 19 percent. This reduces the price of the vehicle by at least 2 percent.

& If the car arrives with you, you must declare the sales tax within a time limit. In Germany, for example, within ten days with Annex USt 1 B, which has the catchy name “VAT declaration for individual vehicle taxation. If no value added tax is due (z. B. Switzerland), be sure to include this in the purchase contract.

If you decide to buy an EU import, you have several options: Either you look for a vehicle from a dealer in the EU country via online car exchanges or you contact a car dealership specialized in imports in your location. It is important that the dealership is a car dealer and not a broker. Only then do the warranty rules apply to the trade.

If it is abroad, you should check a few things, such as the imprint on the website. Address, contact details, the name of the management and in most cases the tax number are noted down there. If the information is not complete, caution is advised.

The insurer Allianz points out one more thing: In the event of legal disputes, the legal system of the country where the purchase was made applies. Since the sales contract is usually written in the local language, a translation is therefore already required. And: An invoice is part of the purchase contract.

Do not buy a used car without a thorough check

For used cars, it is important to cross-check the sales information with a CARFAX used car history. However, this does not replace the test drive. If this is not possible because of the distance, please ask the seller for an updated technical report.

Get the used car history

Check now without obligation if we have information about your vehicle.

According to the European Consumer Center (ECC), this is one of the required registration documents if the car is more than three years old. The registration office provides information on whether the corresponding technical inspection report of the country of origin is also accepted. In addition, when registering the vehicle from another EU country, “the EC certificate of conformity or COC paper” must be presented. If this is not available, it can be requested from the manufacturer. Exists the form (z. B. If the vehicle is not imported from the EU or if it is retrofitted), a full certificate of an inspection authority, e.g. at the TuV with technical data sheet, has to be presented. In addition, there is the notification of intra-Community acquisition (for new vehicles). According to the EVZ, this can be obtained from the registration office. “With this, the authorities can determine whether the value-added tax is to be paid in Germany,” according to the consumer center.

& Even if in the colloquial language the term reimport is gladly used, it is not always correct. If the car comes from abroad, this only applies if it is sold in the country where it was produced. Example: An Audi from Ingolstadt, which is imported to Germany from Poland, for example, is a re-import. A Seat, on the other hand, is only an import, since it is manufactured in Martorell near Barcelona.

Be careful when buying a private car

The enthusiast cars are usually not in the yards of the dealers, but are offered by private sellers. If the seller is a private person, the used car history of the vehicle should be checked via CARFAX. The amount is well invested. Unfortunately, there are criminal elements in the private trade. They often require a deposit of a few thousand in advance for transport or for other dubious reasons. Here one can only warn: “Caution trap!”. Especially if the seller insists on a speedy remittance.

Vehicles from the USA are a popular import item

Fans of US vehicle icons should in any case, in the truest sense of the word, get as accurate a picture of the car as possible before negotiating a sale. Because in the USA repairs and restorations are sometimes carried out on a lower quality level than in Europe. Here, too, the CARFAX used car history provides a good basis for research.

& Since the year 2000, 1.7 million. Vehicles with previous damage are exported from the USA to Europe, we have prepared the development of the last five years in the CARFAX Used Car Market Insights for you. Behind these abstract numbers are 1,7 Mio. Individual stories and fates. People who have been saving for their new car for a long time, but have only received an inferior and in case of doubt even unsafe car. If we assume an average price of 22.995, which a major online marketplace for used cars has calculated for seven European countries, almost 40 billion euros were spent on vehicles with prior damage.

Number of US imports to Europe – vehicles with risks

Number of US import to Europe

A further tip: Calculate before the purchase conclusion the additional costs again on it. On the selling price of a US import the car import costs add up. These are possible import taxes, customs fees, transport insurance and costs, registration and possible technical conversion costs (for US vehicles, these are the lights, which are checked for compliance with the TuV requirement, tires (if they do not have an EC or ECE mark) or the navigation system, which must be adapted to Europe). An issue is likewise the limits prescribed in Europe with regard to pollutant emissions and noise levels)). US vehicles are not only inspected by customs, but must be presented to the TuV in any case. This puts the total purchase price into perspective once again. The ADAC has illustrated this using an example with a purchase price of 15.000 US-$ (the German customs converts the amount into Euro at the respective daily exchange rate) is demonstrated:

US purchase price of 15.000 US dollars equivalent to € 13.805

+ Freight u. Insurance to German port ca. € 767 = € 14.572

+ of which 10 % customs € 1.457 = € 16.029

+ of which 19 % import sales tax € 3.046

(Source: ADAC).

The good news: No customs duty is levied on classic cars from the States – not like on normal used cars. Another advantage: a reduced import VAT rate of seven percent applies. For this, the car must be in original condition, have no fundamental modifications to the chassis, steering, brakes and engine, have 30 years on the hump or no longer be produced. Otherwise, according to the ADAC, 10 percent duty applies EU-wide. According to the Automobile Club, the import duty is levied on the so-called C.I.F.-Value added (C.I.F. stands for Cost, Insurance and Freight). This is calculated from the purchase price plus insurance plus packaging and freight costs. The amount of import sales tax is calculated on the basis of the C.I.F.-Value and the import duty established.

Now the car only has to be transported from the states into the EU. This takes up to four weeks if the car is at the port three days before loading with complete papers. Organizing it is possible for everyone, but it costs nerves. Looked at in this way is a professional who between 1.600 and 2.000 euros, is not that expensive at all.

Once the imported car, whether new or a rarity, is registered on domestic roads, nothing stands in the way of driving fun with a guaranteed high attention factor.

& In addition to vehicle documents, contract and invoice, the Certificate of Title is required for used vehicles. But this does not inform about the previous owners. For new cars, you need the original Certificate of Origin including two notarized copies of the front and back sides.

Get the used car history

Check now without obligation if we have information about your vehicle.

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