IMPORTING A CAR: THE STEPS TO FOLLOW

In principle, importing a car from an EU country does not require any import procedures. Regardless of the type of vehicle, whether through an agent or a dealer, the import of a car is subject to specific regulations.

CUSTOMS FORMALITIES WHEN IMPORTING A CAR

Customs clearance consists of paying customs duties and VAT even before the vehicle enters French territory. Paying VAT is also part of customs clearance operations and is compulsory for all new vehicles, even if the car concerned has already been subject to VAT in its country of origin. This therefore implies that second-hand cars are exempt. There is also a case where the owner is exempt from VAT. This concerns a car which is considered as new and which is brought into France as part of a transfer of residence. In other words, this applies if the owner wishes to live in France and brings his car to France. Vehicles imported from a Member State of the European Union, whether new or used, are not subject to customs formalities. On the other hand, if the car was purchased in another foreign country, in a French Overseas Department or in one of the French Overseas Territorial Collectivities, the purchaser must pay customs duties. It is compulsory to comply with customs formalities to import a car.

TEMPORARY AND PERMANENT REGISTRATION

The tax authorities will issue you with a tax certificate to be presented to the prefecture in order to register the vehicle. This tax certificate (1993 VT REC), also known as a “fiscal discharge”, must be withdrawn within 15 days following the importation of the vehicle. The certified translation of these documents in case of doubt as to the understanding of their contents, the registration certificate issued in the country of origin and the invoice given by the seller are necessary to obtain it. In the meantime, the owner of the imported car must act as soon as possible to register it (1 month after the date of purchase) and apply for a vehicle registration certificate. All the steps for the establishment of the registration certificate are now done online. As the foreign plate is valid 5 days after the purchase of the car, the owner must go to the nearest prefecture to request a new WW transit plate, so that the vehicle can temporarily circulate on the territory. It is possible to renew it once if the procedure of reception control is still in progress. In this case, a fee will be charged for the second provisional license plate valid for 15 days.

TYPE-APPROVAL INSPECTION AND TECHNICAL INSPECTION OF THE IMPORTED VEHICLE

When the financial steps are taken, the buyer must then have his car checked to ensure that it complies with French technical and safety standards. This is the acceptance procedure. Before registering your car, the administration will check its technical conformity. This aims to confirm that the vehicle corresponds to the technical characteristics required by law. A technical inspection to ensure that the vehicle is in good working order is also provided for in this so-called “type-approval” procedure. For the roadworthiness test, if the car was purchased in Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg or Italy, then it is valid in France if it is less than 6 months old. However, it should be pointed out that the case of Italy is a special case, since Italian sellers do not have the technical inspection report required in France. In order to acquire a beautiful original Italian car, it is better to go through a car agent to be better accompanied. In the case of a vehicle imported from abroad outside the EU, the vehicle must pass its technical inspection.

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