6 Common Misconceptions about LHD Car Import

There are certain ideas, myths and misconceptions about importing left hand drive cars that we regularly come across lets take a look at the facts.

Switzerland and Customs Duty: This one comes up just about every time some approaches us to look at the cost of importing there car from Switzerland back in to the EU. The fact is Switzerland is not in the European Union as it is a EFTA state which a free trade agreement which doesn’t cover everything new and used cars are included in this so you must start from the standpoint of 10% import duty and VAT being payable. You could avoid import duty if you have documents like EUR1’s that demonstrate it was built in the EU and could avoid both taxes if you are bringing the car in after 6 months of ownership under change of permanent residency rules.

The 6 month rule and crossing borders: The popular myth that if you own a foreign registered car in a member state of the EU that to avoid having to re-register it you can simply cross into Portugal or France from Spain and the clock starts again is wrong. It more cumulative over the year and also measured on residency or intention.

Spain and arbitrarily high taxes: True to a degree if you were buying a left hand drive Range Rover Sport 5.0 V8 yes you would be in the highest tax bracket for matriculation tax but if you were looking at a low emissions left hand drive Volkswagen Polo under 120 co2 then there is no matriculation tax. Spanish cars prices are generally high so it’s not just the taxes that put the prices up.

A Tax Free car attracts no Tax after 6 months old: An old favourite. VAT is no longer payable on a car that is 6 months and 6000km old assuming that VAT was paid already. So if you bought a 12 months old tax free car (which is possible if a VAT registered business or if you had declared the vehicle for export outside of the EU) then tried to import it to France then tax would be due. The idea of buying a tax free car “winging” it for 6 months sadly won’t wash with the tax authorities.

Tax Free is like Duty Free: Sadly, it’s not like buying your cigarettes, perfume and alcohol at the airport. Tax Free is purely a mechanism to avoid having to pay VAT twice on new means of transport. For example if you bought a left hand drive Citroen C4 Cactus which was new in the UK and wanted to import it to Portugal then the tax free scheme would mean you didn’t pay 20% VAT here as the Portuguese would be asking for the 23% on arrival in Portugal.

You can qualify for Tax Free on used Cars if leaving the EU: This is correct and so many people don’t realise this. Be it new or used if you are leaving the EU with a car you could qualify for a tax free car. We use the personal export scheme to do this. So assuming we can fin a used version of the LHD car you want that is VAT deductible or you want a new car then this is possible. You would be surprised by the number of people who don’t realise this and suddenly that £10000 budget stretches to a car with a value of £12000.