Change of Residency and Car Import

Getting your LHD Car import timing right with your change of permanent residency is really important.


It’s a topic we have covered a few times throughout our blog and one the Total Auto Advisors talk about most days. Effectively most countries will offer concessions to the left hand drive car owner or buyer on changing residency or more specifically changing their place of permanent residency. So what is change of residency, in simple terms (and not always a definitive answer for everywhere) it is the place you spend most of the year backed up by a change of fiscal status i.e. you become a tax resident of that country.


In Europe and the European Union this often means that if changing residency within the customs terrirtory that bringing a car into the country that you have owned for 6 months can be done without paying matriculation taxes. Not necesarily applicable to the UK as the charges here are very very low comparitively but in places like Spain, Portugal or the Netherlands as example this can be worth quite a bit of money. A left hand drive car imported to Spain attracts between 0% and 16.75% in matriculation taxes. Portugal although not percentage based equates to similar if not more amounts. Note though you must have owned the car 6 months (determinted by the log book) and VAt must have been paid.


For those entering Europe from outside of the EU with their used LHD car there can be tax concessions also. For example, if you a changing permanent residency from a non EU destination and bringing a car you have owned for over 6 months it can be bought in without paying VAT or import duty a big bonus especially if coming form somewhere like Dubai which is a 0% Sales Tax territory.


What about if you are changing residency to a non EU destination? Well every country is different and has different rules but most have something in place for you ranging from 0% taxes to reduced tax levies. For example, this year Ecuador has offerred a concessions to returning Ecuadorians where by they can bring a car to the value of $20000 USD into the country at lower rates. Some Caribean destinations such as St Vincents offer a lower rate for moving there permanently. All of these also don’t necessarily have to be owned for 6 months allowing you to take a brand new car in.


So looking at these options is really worth while when planning your move. Talk to our advisors and talk to your local embassy as well as you could save yourself thousands of pounds. In many cases, you might not have been thinking about buying a left hand drive car but the savings for doing it as part of change of residency may well be worthwhile in the long run.