Buying a car when non-resident

We want to buy a car here (register it, etc.) and then take our UK car back north to sell it there before finally returning by train/plane to settle permanently. Is there any problem in being a non-EU citizen for the purchase? We won a house, pay taxes and have had a bank account with CA for three years or so. Thanks for any advice.

That sounds exciting!

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I could wish! It should be ‘own’, I’m afraid. But thanks for the laugh.

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You might wish to look through this similar topic regarding buying a car in France. You may find answers which relate to your question there.

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I’m wondering what the time-scale is expected to be… between the 2 events… you buying the car here… going off and coming back to settle permanently…???

I’m certainly no authority on this, but the French car purchase shouldn’t be problematic if alI your various steps are taken in the right sequence. The problem with the timetable you describe is that I don’t think you can legally own/insure the French vehicle until you become tax resident in France.

Therefore it might be best to do that first. all think all you need to do is notify HMRC, that you have become tax resident in France *before buying the French car and before temporarily leaving France in order to sell your RHD car. Then everything about the French car purchase should be legit.

However, there are far more knowledgable SF members out there, some of whom may advise differently to the above!

If you’re not currently tax resident in France are these taxes simply property taxes like Taxe d’Habitation that are paid by second home owners who are non-resident. If so these, have no bearing on the car purchase. Although many second home owners seem to have got round this problem either by accident or intention, I don’t think such a move would be a wise start to your new life§

I rather thought that this might be the case - that is basically why I raised the question. We will be resident as from January and there is no great hurry. So we should keep our UK-registered car until we are resident, then buy a local car and register it in France. The final step will be to make a journey to family in the UK at some point thereafter using the visit as an opportunity to sell. Fortunately we have a friend in the selling business. Thank for the advice.

I think that’s the way to go - hope all goes smoothly for you.

Incidentally, we sold our UK property from France without needing to visit the UK, but of course if the sale is also a reason for visiting family, that’s a different matter.

Many thanks. Just in case of any doubt, a friend has now told us that their car was purchased from a garage (important this - not a private individual) and that, because the registration had several months to run, the paperwork was minimal involving only presentation of a household bill (in this case, from Orange) and a driving licence (UK was OK). The car now has to be registered but our friend is now a registered resident with a CdS. I am not sure how the insurance worked.

But I will stick to what I wrote above.

Just to add - as soon as you arrive in France to live, whether you have yet to obtain a cds or declare income tax, you are resident (domiciled) & therefore need to declare items you import as part of your move. This includes your car.
If your current stay is temporary & complies with current visitor status then you are still a tourist.
If your friend bought his car while he was the owner of a second home then to present a document purporting to be proof of domicile (which is the requirement, & can be a household bill) then he lied. It makes no difference whether it was with the encouragement of a garage who are unlikely to want to turn away a sale, or a private sale. It is really the buyer who knows where his principal residence is & the seller will accept what he is given, relying on the honesty/knowledge of that buyer.
There are quite a few government & EU web sites making this clear but a translation from a commercial site sums it up quite well - this from

“The rule is actually the same for everyone, French or not: to be able to make a car registration in France, you must have your main residence in this country . If, as a foreigner, you live mainly in France, you have the obligation, if you have come with your vehicle with plates from your country, to register it in France. The legal deadline is one month.”

However, there will always be a second home owner who will insist that “domicile” simply refers to “address”. When you order a pizza delivery you give an address. When you are staying with a friend when you order you give his address. The pizza delivery guy does not ask for your domicile.

Hi Mark -
I have just found this forum as I am in the same boat as many, trying to sort out reregistering my UK vehicle here.
I have seen several references to your expertise in this area, I live near Paris though - is it still something you could help with? Many thanks

Hi @Jerri_Ryder and welcome to SF
I’ve tagged @anon90504988 for you so he will get a message to say there is a post for his attention.
You should do that on any occasion you wish to alert another member to a post. Simply place the @ symbol immediately followed by their nic as I have done above.

Thank you! I thought I had replied to one of his earlier messages!

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You probably did - but as the post you tagged was the one immediately before yours, the system doesn’t add it to the on screen thread and there was no way of knowing if that was your intention or a mistake so I decided to tag him to be certain…
It’s a feature that is optional in the system which the site admin decided to preclude sometime ago.