Help! Advice needed on importing UK vehicle to France?

We recently moved over to the Charente and we have a couple of UK registered vehicles to import to France. we are quite attached to the vehicles so don't want to sell them ideally. One is a VW Passat Tdi estate and the other is a VW T4 Transporter. We are currently back in the UK visiting friends and family and also picking up the Passat, as we moved down in October last year with only the T4.

We have been doing research and understand the process for importing a vehicle to France. We have applied for Certificate of Conformity for both vehicles and are awaiting those. The problem we have is that the tax and MOT on both vehicles will run out at the end of this month, and rather than getting new UK MOT's and paying for 6 months tax on each we want to bring them both over at the end of the month, put them on French insurance and put them both through a French CT as soon as we get back.

Obviously we will also notify the DVLA that both the vehicles are being exported to France so we won't get done for not renewing our road tax!!

However, there seems to be a delay in getting a response from VW France on whether or not I will be able to get a full Certificate of conformity for the VW T4 as it is an older vehicle??

Can anyone tell me if I can take my VW T4 van for a French CT test without having the Certificate of Conformity?

I realise I will need the CoC later on in the import process, but is it possible to get a French CT test done using the V5C?

Or would I be better off paying for another UK MOT and 6 months tax and putting the van on temporary French insurance until I find out if I will get a full CoC from VW France? If I only get a partial CoC from VW France then I need to take my van for an independent inspection for which the cost is around €2000, so therefore prohibitive. In that scenario I would be forced to sell it.

Can anyone advise?

Ainés NOT ânes: senior citizens tea

simple answer= you can get a CT using the french temporary certificat of immatriculation, but your uk MOT must be still valid (mine had 4 days validity left)

Tasting of the Donkeys?

Knowing this country, that is probably a local dish :-)

I recently got a Carte Gris for my UK Saab 900 classic convertible year 1992. First - Beware of internet 'official' suppliers of Cert de conformité who charge a fortune and take the money knowing that it is actually not possible to obtain a CoC for cars of this age. If on your V5 registration under the letter k there is NO number then your car was constructed before the numbers came into use. You simply need to get a rdzv with your local DREEL who will check the car for european conformity and issue a certificate which replaces the need for one from the actual constructeur. (Saab of course no longer exist) the cost is around 92€. I had not yet changed my lights or the wiring of the fog lamp when they checked the car, but I didnt need to go back, they just accepted me emailing a photo of the new lights in place and the CT (which I did AFTER the Dreel conformity check).

Order of bureaucratic frustration 1. sous prefecture for temporary immatriculation cert. 55€ valid 1 month; 2. French insurance; 3. DREEL visit 86€ 4. Garage overhaul and headlight change (bought on ebay for 30€ a light)300€ including new direction 'rotules' 5. Control technique 79€; 6. renewal of temporary immatriculation because I wasn't quick enough, 55€; 7. Certificate arrives from the DREEL; 8.Handed in all papers at the sous prefecture plus 260€ (puissance fiscal 10 x 52€, then halved because the car is over 10 years old); 9. Carte Gris arrives 4 days later by post. 10. local garage puts new plates on.

It was worth it just to keep my beloved Saab and definately cheaper than buying an equivalent second hand car in France. (At no point did I put temporary plates on, my temporary certificate linked the UK reg to a french number which changed with each new certificate, but you can only do this renewal once, so be ready with everything else before starting... ie make sure you have the headlights AND a rdvz with the DREEL.)

(Get a frenchman to do any phone calls... female english accents charm but reduce efficacity chez les bureaucrats)

I believe a lot of people get the headlights from a braker.

You become a French resident when you declare yourself as such at the Mairie, altho’ technically you are resident fiscally if you spend more than 6 months here. Going to the mairie is a good idea as you can also register yourself to vote in local and European elections. For national elections you have to be a French citizen. You will continue to be eligible to vote at your last known address in the UK for up to 15 years. You need to make sure that you have registered and applied for a postal vote.
Declaring yourself resident also has perks, being invited to village meetings, village meals etc. and, if you are retired, the annual “gouter des aines”.

I think you become a French resident the day you move permanently from the UK to here. I'm sure there are not many people who give up jobs, sell their house & bring all their worldly goods here just for an extended holiday! If you have decided to live in France you become a resident on day one. Let's face it, if you are importing a car you have already made up your mind to live here because you do not go through the hassle if you are here on holiday!

Well Mark it depends when you become a French resident does it not..... ;-)) ? The law states that a French resident must register an imported vehicule within one month, yes. But it can take quite some time to decide whether you really want to become a resident......

With regard to Paul's problems re. tyres, if the size is not on the homologation list, the car wouldn't pass its CT anyway. I seem to recall one of the T4 Transporters being fitted with a 205 size tyre but I can't recall the aspect ratio - anno domini!

Perhaps if Paul can let us know the year and engine size of his T4 and whether SWB or LWB, I'll have one of the lads check it out in the office.

Actually Anthony it is ONE month by law....

You have 6 months before you have to register your cars in France. Depending on their age, the V5C might be of the latest type that should be accepted by your local Préfecture. Meanwhile your insurers should issue cover but they will need site of the V5C.

If the vehicle is over a certain age, you won't be able to get a Cert of Conformity. In which case you have to take the car to DREAR (sp?!). They go over it with a fine toothcomb, make sure that there is a CE (communite europeenne) stamp on things like the seat belts. And of course it's not free. We have never been asked for info on tyres when asking for a CofC, just the basic information about the car and the VIN number. Good luck, I'm sure you will get there in the end!

Depending on the car you might not have to change lights.

My UK based RHD Saab 9-5 Estate has to be replaced in the next couple of months and with a Skoda Superb estate. But LHD versions in France are coming in at up to 10kE more than comparable RHD versions so I'm opting to buy in the UK and import.

All Skodas seemingly now have a setting which allows the beams to be set to LHD - which Skoda say is accepted in France. And since the Superb is basically a stretched VW Passat I ssuspect that others of the VW-Audi stable may also have this.

My local CT centre needed the CoC for the first CT.

We were quoted silly money to change the headlights. Found a 'pieces d'auto' online and they were a quarter of the price.

As for the CoC, we got ours in the UK from Honda (and it was 8 quid IIRC).

You need the electricity bill or bank statement or tax demand to do just about everything in France. I do not know why you were surprised as this is perfectly standard practice. I have never heard of anyone having to prove that VAT is paid, only to declare , at la maison des impots, that it has been paid. That is all I have ever had to do. The main problem is when one wishes to import a new car. The definition of a new car is that it is less than six months old and has less than six thousand Km. on the clock. It is no longer considered new when BOTH those figures have been exceeded. If it is a new car by the above definition VAT must be paid, regardless of the fact that VAT has already been paid.

I must say that I have never had any trouble importing cars so long as they have European homologation. Cars over a certain age do not need the CofC but an attestation from an organization that is agreé to judge the vehicle's credentials. I have never been asked for a CofC in order for a car to go through the CT. As for headlights, the legal aspect of it totally to one side, if you live in France then I would have thought that it is only common sense to change the lights so that you can see properly, but more important, that you are not a nuisance to other road users because you are dipping the wrong way.

@dave thornley

Another one of those firms that charge you extra for doing a job you can easily do yourself by contacting the manufacturer who may or may not charge for the certificate.

It is true that there is no actual law forcing a change of headlight, but if the headlights fitted do not meet controle technique requirements your car will not be street legal (after the 2 month grace period) so you will be legally obliged to correct the situation! The best way is to buy a set of European ones. This will only apply to cars over 4 years old as a CT on newer cars is not obligatory & therefore cannot be bound by a CT.

It could be that Em's cars fall into that category. If they were older than 4 years old & still passed a CT with UK headlights then the CT station was not doing their job properly!

Adjusting headlights can be extremely dodgy too as the adjustments can leave you with such poor night vision that one cannot safely see the road ahead.

If one cannot afford a couple of hundred euros for decent headlights then you should not have a car. A lack of funds would also mean that one could not afford tyres or brakes either!

Hi Kenneth, our cars didn't fail their 1st CT at all. They flew through, inc headlights, not sure why yours didn't however.

And it was free!!