Import a Used Car from Germany to the UK
A summary of the steps you'll need to go through to import a used 1998 Porsche 996 from Germany to the UK in May 2005. Many of these steps would apply to any car, and remember, procedures may have changed by the time you read this.
- Find your car. http://uk.mobile.de is a great resource. It's got a lot of dealers listed and much of the info can be seen in English. Choose the ones you want to have a look at, and try contacting the dealers to determine whether they speak your language or can answer any questions immediately.
- Buy it. Whenever you're ready, take a trip to Germany to check out the cars. Pick a dealer who can offer you a guarantee, will arrange the transit plates, who speaks English and who you think is being honest with you.
- Pay for it. You should be able to pay the deposit with a credit card, and wire the rest from your bank once you get home. Also, shop around for insurance - Direct Line (and probably others) can insure the car based on the Chassis number (make sure you get that before you leave). Also get them to post you a green card for the trip back from Germany, and remember to take it with you when you leave. Alternatively, you can usually arrange temporary insurance with the dealer, but it will be 3rd party only.
- Collect it. Sign about 30 pieces of paper, all in German, get the keys and a pile of paper including the Fahrzeugbrief, which is your ownership document. Make sure all the bits that you paid for are in the car. Drive like the clappers back to England.
- Get it registered. This is the fun bit. Different steps may apply for RHD vehicles, vehicles that are less than 3 years old (and so don't require an MOT) or older than 10 (and so require SVA rather than Type approval), or vehicle from outside the EC. New vehicles are definitely different.
- Call the DVLA and get them to send out a pack for importing a vehicle. The form you want is a V55/5.
- Call Porsche UK in Reading (head office) and ask them for a Certificate of Conformity. They will, in turn, ask you for a letter containing your chassis number and a cheque for £60 or so, and will send one through in the post 10 days or so later (they have to send to Germany to get it). This is to get the vehicle "Type approved", which means the model you have is in general approved for use in the UK. The certificate is in German and has info about the length, weight, emission levels etc. of the car.
- Get the lights adjusted. You need to modify the headlights to point the other way (on a Porsche 996 they can be adjusted and don't need replacing). You also need the fog light on the other side, which is, at least on the 1998 model, not as simple as moving the bulb over. Get the receipt showing you had the work done. You also need to put the speedo into MPH, although with a digital speedo this is easily done. Total cost will vary.
- Send your Certificate of Conformity and something to prove you've got the lights adjusted (the receipt) and the speedo converted off to the Vehicle Certification Authority. Ask them for a Mutual Recognition Certificate. This lot want £65 or so, but a week later will send you back your original documents and your all important certificate.
- Fill out the V55/5. Most of the info you need is on the Certificate of Conformity, but it's in German. You can use Google translation tool, which copes fairly well even with phrases like "Unladen rear axle load". Some fields you can safely skip (max permissible trailer weight was left blank) and some you might be able to skip (a 1998 model doesn't need it's CO2 emissions checked, and it seems there's no engine number on a 996). If in doubt, call the DVLA and ask them.
- Fill out the VAT414 form. At the end it says "Did you pay VAT?". Tick no and leave the rest, which according to a nice chap at customs, you only need to complete if you are a VAT registered entity.
- Checklist - you should now have the following:
- Complete V55/5
- Completed VAT414
- MOT certificate
- Certificate of Insurance
- Mutual Recognition Certificate
- Fahrzeugbrief and green booklet (registration documents - If in doubt take all the paper your dealer gave you)
- Photo card License
- Make your way down to the DVLA local office and stand in a queue, and pay over your last cheque for £38, plus whatever it costs for a year's registration - £170 or so. A week or so later you should receive your papers back in the post, including your tax disc and a piece of paper you need to get a license plate made up. The V5 will follow a few weeks later from head office. Then you just need to get a plate made up and you're away.
- Smile as you reflect on what you've saved.
- Occasionally second hand cars in Germany will have VAT applied to them - this applies if the previous owner was a company. Make sure the price you're quoted includes VAT
- Make sure your bank doesn't put a stop on your visa card when you suddenly pop up in Germany and try to put €3000 through. Calling your bank while roaming is expensive.
- Porsche dealers can offer a 1 year worldwide warranty on approved used cars (ie any that have had their regular 20000km service with an approved dealer). No-one else seemed to be able to do this.
- You will need to get transit plates issued. Ask the dealer to do it, because the government department that does this closes midday on Friday - which means you have to be there Friday morning. Get them for as long as you can, as while you have German plates on it's difficult to pay the congestion charge and/or speeding fines. Plus the whole process takes ages so the longer the better.
- See if you can get the manual for the car in English. Also see if you can get them to supply a UK CD for the satellite navigation if you have it installed, rather than the German one.
- Make sure you get the PIN code for the stereo and check and double check all accessories are there. Then check again (getting these once you've paid is a nightmare).
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