BEWARE - This is a long post but the detail may be useful for someone, if interested pour a drink and sit back:
I thought that it may help someone if I detail my recent experiences of buying a 2nd hand car in UK then importing it to France since Brexit. A couple of years ago we imported our Honda CRV, which at the time seemed straightforward.
About 3 months ago I was watching a video on Youtube (Ferrari Classic Car Auction Preview Hobbs Parker Ashford - YouTube ), the video was a walkthrough of a Classic Vehicle Auction Preview at Hobbs Parker in Ashford, Kent. A particular car caught my eye, this was a 2005 MX5 Launch Edition with just 48,000 miles, I have previously owned an MX-5 back from 2008-12 and have regretted selling it ever since – they are a great fun car to own.
Now bearing in mind I had absolutely no intention of buying another car, and no need for another car as we already had 2 - but I remember when we test drove an MX-5 back in 2008 at the Mazda dealership they had one of these Launch Edition variants and we ooohhhed and ahhhed at that one.
I kept scanning the photos on my phone from here in France, but I did not view the car in person.
As the auction day came close I could see that nobody had bid on the car, but we decided not to bid on the car as the import fees etc would make it not particularly viable. Then with 30 minutes to go before the auction and still no bids, and it was very cheap……….well you know what was coming, yes we bought it.
I already had a trip planned to UK about a month later – which was already fully arranged return flights, car hire etc.
I arranged with the auction house and a local well recommended (on Google) garage for them to collect the car, give it a service and an MOT so it would be ready for journey down through France to near Bordeaux.
The MOT was duly FAILED! – work was required on the suspension, brakes and some welding – there were also some advisories of rust on the suspension, shocks and springs. This work was then done, and an MOT certificate issued. I was keen to get an MOT, firstly to ensure that the car was safe, and secondly so that I could use it during the ANTS registration process (but this is no longer possible!)
Only now whilst the work was being carried out I took a very close look on my PC of the photos of the car the Auction House had shown – of the 30 photos that were listed I spotted damage on photo 29! to the front bumper that had been repaired quite badly. Also speaking the Auction House they commented that the paint could do with a good polish as it was a little rough.
During this period I had received a scan of the V5 from the Auction House so I proceeded to register the car with DVLA to the house in UK that my original UK driving licence is registered to (this was possibly not needed and even wrong to have done). I had checked DVLA website of how to export a car by completing Section 5 of V5 – as I was due to drive the car on UK roads even for just a short distance (10 miles) from Ashford to Folkestone, I was keen to put road tax on the car and the claim a refund later as it was suggested on DVLA website that it was required. I paid for road tax and also completed the Exporting section of the V5 and posted it back to DVLA – my thinking was that would limit the amount of road tax to pay by increasing the refund.
@Fabian had sorted the insurance for me with a French Company – I was obviously keen to have Breakdown Insurance for journey through France!
Time was getting tight before my return to France but I arranged for a local well recommended (on Google) bodyshop to collect the car from the garage whereby they repaired and resprayed the front bumper and whilst the bumper was removed they replaced the headlights with Left Hand Drive version (sourced from www.MX5Parts.co.uk). I received a call from the bodyshop to say the work was complete – but that the paint was in a very poor condition and ideally the whole car needed to be fully rubbed back and resprayed – this would costs £££££££.
The day had come to collect the car and drive back to France – this was complicated a little due to the remnants of original intended journey – I had to drop the hire car at Stanstead then catch a train to Ashford, then a taxi to the bodyshop. This was the first time I actually got to see the car – the condition of the car was not great, the repair by the bodyshop was excellent , the interior was a bit scruffy and both of the keys were in pieces!. I loaded up with car with a huge amount of luggage.
I jumped in the car to start the 850km drive home – this would be some first test drive!, popped to Tesco to collect supplies for the journey (and those items always missed in France) – then drove down to Eurotunnel. Passed through passports – then got the car swiped for drugs at customs – thankfully it passed but as I did not know too much of the recent history it could have been fun – I was relieved to be released without hearing the snapping of rubber gloves!
Photo in the tunnel:
I was also relieved at the first autoroute toll that the bleeper worked - I had ordered and bought it from France as travelling alone I didn’t fancy having to climb out of this cramped little 2 seater at every toll to pay – this was a good move.
Stayed the night at Hotel-BB in Rouen (truly luxurious) – the following morning had to clear frost from the windscreen – horror as the roads would be icy for the bulk of the journey in a rear wheel drive, light, jittery car!
The journey through France was OK, just boring as I was by myself and old car radio could not play MP3s, podcasts, audiobooks etc. Frustratingly as the whether was cold and threatening to rain I decided not to drop the roof which would have made the journey more fun.
Now to start the import/registration process:
Arriving home I had time to check though the extensive documents that came with the car, it had just 1 previous owner, I had every copies of every service invoice since new and every MOT. Unfortunately there was no Certificate of Conformity, as needed by ANTS, so I had to request one for Mazda which cost £85, whereas with Honda for our CRV it was free.
Previously (pre-Brexit) when we imported the Honda I had help from @anon90504988 – who was of great help so I went back to Mark to see about importing the MX-5. He let me know of the forms that I would need to obtain/complete. I did consider doing the vehicle registration process myself – but having logged on to the ANTS website and starting the process I quickly reverted to Mark.
A recent UK MOT can no longer be used so a Controle Technique (CT) was required, guess what, despite having a recent MOT it failed the CT as I had mismatched tyres on the rear axle – I wasn’t aware of this rule – not a big issue as I was intending replacing the tyres imminently anyway. Even with a failed CT you can apply to register a vehicle.
I next had to pay import duties (new since Brexit) – to do this I had to visit the Douane (Customs). Having checked Google I could see our nearest office was in LIbourne and I could see on Google Maps exactly where it was and the times it was open – I really struggled to find the office – I knocked on the door of the address which turned out to not be the Douanes at all and never had been and I would have to go to Bordeaux Merignac Airport – I exchanged emails with the office there to ensure that they did actually exist and what would be needed. They were very helpful, the following documents were needed:
- Sales invoice for the car
- DVLA V5
- Justificatif de domicile (recent Utility Bill)
The duty was calculated as the price I had paid for the car (from invoice/receipt), they converted the £ to euros as of the day of the sale – this value was multiplied by 10% (import duty) and added to the sale value in euros, then this total value was multiplied by 20% (TVA =VAT) . In total the duty was 33% of the sale price when converted to Euros. The Douanes insisted that this was paid by bank card and not cheque (I think it is possible for smaller amounts <1000 Euros). I was issued with form 846A to show all duties had been paid. (no longer need a Quitus Fiscale from local tax office).
I then prepared documents for the vehicle registration via ANTS:
- Recent Utility Bill
- Justificatif de domicile
- Sales Invoice
- DVLA V5
- Certificate of Conformity (CoC)
- 846A from Douanes
- Driving Licence
- Insurance Certificate
These forms were handed to Mark so he could make the ANTS registration. After a couple of days Mark was informed that the registration had been REJECTED!
ANTS requested that a DREAL inspection be undertaken – Mark had feared that this may happen as it has been happening increasingly of late. The issue was that the Certificate of Conformity issued by Mazda UK stated that the car was built for Right Hand Drive.
A DREAL inspection is apparently similar to a UK VOSA inspection to ensure that the car complies with all local requirements, headlights and fog lights on the correct side etc. I emailed the DREAL office in Bordeaux, the required process is that you must complete a very comprehensive detailed form and submit with a number of forms (that were previously submitted to ANTS) and the DREAL office will confirm a date for an inspection about a month later– I spent a couple of hours completing the forms and submitted by post (email not allowed!) to the Bordeaux DREAL office.
I couple of days later I received an email from DREAL saying that my submission was incomplete and that I must submit a Declaration from Mazda France (not UK).
This point was a particular low, I had spent a fortune bring a car from UK that still needed money to be spent on it – I considered taking the car back to UK and just selling it there via the same Auction House, unfortunately this would not be possible without re-importing the car to UK £££ as it had been exported (should not have told DVLA already!)– but at the same time it had not been registered in France so very shortly could not legitimately be used, and could not be sold in France for anything other than scrap!
It was frustrating that the Certificate of Conformity was rejected by ANTS and DREAL as it had cost £85, I then spoke to the chap at Mazda UK who had issued the CoC and he could not have been more helpful. It was the first time that he was aware of a CoC being rejected. I directed him to the Mazda France website where they offer a CoC, but if you are importing from UK you have to submit evidence that you have changed the headlights. the Mazda UK chap spoke to his colleague to Mazda France (and also Mazda Germany) – they promised to assist quickly. Mazda UK refunded the £85,
I spoke to Mazda France who streamlined their application process for me by accepting emails and electronic payment (as opposed to post and cheque which was their normal, plus a 15 day delay) – they supplied the required document in 3 days. Mazda UK have suggested they will no longer issue CoC for use in France.
Mazda France had stated that the form they supplied which is similar to a CoC but instead it is an Attestation to use when registering a car - they stated that it is sufficient and that a DREAL inspection should not be required.
Going on the Mazda France advice I requested that Mark reapply to ANTS with the new attestation from Mazda France – to my delight it was ACCEPTED and a registration has been issued. I now no longer need to have the DREAL inspection.
I am very grateful again for the help of @anon90504988 in the ANTS application – this was money very well spent.
I am awaiting for the full Carte Grise to arrive in the post, when it does I will get the number plates made up (this could probably be done with the document I have received), I will notify the insurance company and the autoroute toll company.
Would I import another car from UK?
I think if it were a car that I knew or already owned – I would think long and hard about it, I would NOT advise the continual list of mistakes that I have made – such as buying an unknown, unseen car for emotional reasons!
Once I have paid for the car, the repairs, the duties etc I could have bought a French version which would have been Left Hand Drive.
I have also just received the refund of car tax from DVLA - from £180 paid, I received £130 back and drove for 10 miles in UK!
I have now just had the rusty alloy wheels refurbished and new tyres fitted, I will also shortly be having new shock absorbers and springs fitted as are required.
Here are the lessons I have learned:
- Don’t watch videos on YouTube of Auction Previews!
- Don’t buy an older car without seeing it
- Look very closely at ALL of the for sale photos
- Consider whether to register car in UK, (I wouldn’t bother again)
- Consider whether to pay road tax in UK, (I wouldn’t bother again)
- Wait to inform DVLA that car has been exported until import process in France is complete
- UK MOT can no longer be used to register car with ANTS
- Import duty is approx. 33%
- Obtain Certificate of Conformity from French version of your car manufacturer.
Now time to look forward to the summer and some top down motoring…