White Van man and Insurance

Lol.....yes, I have read that before, believe it or not I'm not a complete heathen although my abilities to get my point across may put me in that category...unfortunately? I don't really see how it applies here though but I acknowledge the sentiment.The "they" is the biggest problem for me ;o)) who are "they"?

I think my main objection is the sanctimonious manner, many but certainly not all choose to adopt. Whether it is deliberate or not is questionable but that is the way it comes across. There are dodgy tradesman all over the place in every country but in my opinion it is an "attitude" problem which could just as easily apply to estate agents, advocates, notaires, shop keepers, in fact any and all areas of business.....they are perhaps less easy to identify because they don't have english number plates???

I agree too Mark. As for all the excuses... Firstly, any car from within the EEA (EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) plus Switzerland bought new should not need customs clearance because when bought new or as a used vehicle in countries where there is VAT on those, no further duty is due. VAT and customs are part of the agreement within the customs union. Secondly, believing what an insurance broker says to a client is not without risks. On the one hand he/she is a salesman/woman selling insurance who might well say what the customer wants to hear. On the other try persuading anybody that he/she said those things when pursuing a claim. The equation does not square.

This is France. Like it or like it not, French laws apply. Decry their rules all you wish those of you who must always will but you chose to live here. The law states a vehicle must be registered, the rest of it is excuses. Ultimately, when up against it there is never any excuse for excuses.

There are so many people hereabouts who have lived here for years with UK and Dutch plates that it sometimes amazes me that more of them are not caught. However, until they do something the police have other things to do. One of our friends is a gendarme and he says that road accidents and 'housebreaking' are pretty well the body of their work in this area, but despite the quite, calm rural nature there is plenty enough crime. They do not have time to check all the suspect cars. I wish they would find that time, I would enjoy seeing some of the otherwise smug faces no longer so smug.

Here on SFN we have seen enough about unregistered artisans and people doing work they have no business doing. If they are doing that and their vehicles are also not registered then I think they are pretty damned lucky to be still ripping people off. If it was a French artisan among local people then he or she would be known around so quickly that there would be no work, but British ex-pats using ex-pat white van people are walking into a minefield and then they keep their mouths shut. More fool them. That is why we mainly use French people now, we asked locally who is good and then treat them as local people do. If they do not work to standard we tell them and make it patently clear we will talk to local people and let them know what has transpired. No need to blow the whistle officially, it is dealt with.

So I absolutely agree with Mark, not those who are excuse making and justifying bad practice, breaking the law and imagining they are above it anyway. Their stories just do not wash.

" I do subscribe very much to the "live and let live" philosophy. Why? simply because it is, "none of my business".

Have you read this well known bit of writing, Robert?.............

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Just for the record....I'm not one of those...have not yet decided whether to set up a business here or not.

Chances are, not.......

I agree with David. When I read these "live & let live" & "mind your own business" comments you KNOW they are coming from people who are aware that they are breaking the law & their reaction is of one who knows it.

It's not rocket science - every country in the world insists that all motor vehicles used by its residents carry a unique registation number. This is not to make the thing look pretty! it is so that the vehicle can be traced to its owner in the event that this should be necessary. The vehicle may have been seen having a car park knock with another car, maybe caught speeding or even being involved in a hit & run. It may have been stolen, the thieves caught but how can it be returned to the owner if the police do not know who it is? THATS WHY WE ARE OBLIGED TO REGISTER OUR VEHICLES HERE! You cannot run around in an untraceable vehicle, however "legal" you think it is!

The trouble is many of us feel that it is un-British to whistle blow. But "live & let live"? I would like to see you adopt that policy when the convicted paedophile next door to you takes your 10 year old for a ride in his car...

I was very nearly at the "had enough of this discussion" stage myself. But felt compelled to counter this last comment from someone I thought had more understanding to be honest (going from previous posts in other discussions)

I have never been what is loosely described as "white van man" but I do subscribe very much to the "live and let live" philosophy. Why? simply because it is, "none of my business". I wouldn't dream of informing the authorities on any matter except perhaps child abuse.

The whole self employed system here in my opinion is a shambles and needs to be completely overhauled. Historically, I ran a small/medium sized business in the UK for 30 years and paid my taxes according to the laws etc. I won't deny the "laws" were there to be stretched a little on occasions. But here, from what I gather, an artisan cannot survive without doing an average of 50% of their work on the black. It is simply, how it is, again, from what I gather. The ordinary french person (Joe public) know this to be the case and accepts it. There are all sorts of reasons why this is so, apparently. One reason is, that all sorts of benefits are available if earnings are below a certain level. An incentive to stay below that, obviously, for those that are "in the system" and know what they are of course (another story)

A point to consider, when doing "a cash" job is not only a risk for the customer but for the tradesman as well. That in itself, surely, is an incentive for "the builder" to do do a good job. In order to get paid at the end of the job? Because he/she has no paperwork to show if things go wrong. There are just as many bad customers as bad tradesmen. It's about trust at the end of the day.....mutual trust!!! Most of my old customers went on recommendations or gut feelings (instinct)....apparently?

The question of insurance is somewhat blurred, I have heard of many cases where the customers have a had a real fight on their hands and this can last for an absolute age. Is it not better to build up "trust". French "normes" from what I gather can leave a lot to be desired in certain cases. A good example of this, and one that should be very obvious, is, rendering to the ground??? an absolute no, no in the UK for very good reason, it fails every time.

It makes me smile when I hear people say that in order to be "respectable" you have to pay enormous amounts of social charges. The customer is paying those, not the tradesman. He is too often just the poor "unpaid tax collector" at the end of the day...please wake up people! What benefits do you get from these huge tax liabilities. Well, if you are civil servant with 3 children you can retire in relative comfort at 50?? I bet a whole heap of you fall into that category.

My advice would be, if it's possible to give little jobs to begin with and build up that trust. Or perhaps employ someone who knows a thing or two about building to supervise a project. Too often there is a penny pinching mentality from the outset which often ends up costing far more in the long run.

Some of the "live and let live comments" are what you'd expect from "white van man". Usually it's expressed in more cogent and forceful terms such as "it's none of your effing business" I must remember that the next time I see someone in a striped jersey and a bag marked swag climbing through a window I have to say "live and let live".

I've been in France for more than 20 years.

My children grew up here and have their own families.

If I see a Brit who flouts the law with dodgy insurance and a vehicule that is still running on English plates I will report them to the Gendarmes because those people are a danger to my children and grandchildren and every other road user - if they are driving without insurance, tax, controle technique or MOT

If I find an English builder working on the black here I will report them to the URSSAF because they give no guarantee if their work doesn't meet 'les normes françaises', which means the house insurance will not be valid.

Mr Chillman in 24610 - either your van which has been in France for 10 years is legal or not legal - maybe the gendarmes from Porcaud could find out.

You have said all i was going to say would you trust a workman who cant be bothered to sort out his vehicle Martin that's it exactly, if the builder plumber electrician says he cant be bothered to sort out his vehicle then he cant be bothered to sort out his work and will probably adopt the same attitude to any problems .Registering a vehicle in France is simple inexpensive and for a tradesman essential to give the impression his business deserves

I will second that.

Hi Glenn,

Please don't confuse me with someone who doesn't get out much - as a line of argument it's pretty gratuitous anyway and if it's meant as an insult it wouldn't even warrant a reply so I give you the benefit that it's not intended to be insulting. Did something here "touch a nerve" with you? I guess it did!

I have no problem with my English Builder, he's fabulous, just as the French guys I use in England are also good. In fact, I only spoke to English guys here before I found the "star" I have working with me now.

But the guys who turned up here 6 months ago in an English reg car without a green sticker or tax disc and "dodgy" credentials and offered me a "special price" didn't get my business on two counts - 1) if you can't sort out something simple I'm not going to trust you with my hard eared cash doing something important and 2) if you show that kind of distain for the community you live in I won't trust you to act in a trustworthy manner on my job either.

So, yes, I am very bothered by how anyone who might "tout" for my business runs theirs and I'm sufficiently respectful of others in the community to pass view that on.


This subject endlessly comes up on other forums (?fora) and those who are happy to continue as they are, do, and will not change, and those who feel that "they ought to do the right thing" will do so.

I discussed this with our French insurer and asked him what the situation would be if someone with a UK registered vehicle had an accident, where the CT was up to date and the vehicle was insured in France. His reply was that it was up to the insurers to state the terms and if they did not state that the vehicle had to be registered in France within a stipulated period or did not cancel the insurance because this law had not been complied with, then, provided no other condition or warranty on the motor insurance had been broken, or not complied with, the insurer would have to respond to the claim.

There is another angle to this - how much do you trust a trades person who doesn't know how to run his/her business well enough to comply with local laws? Is that more or less trust than dealing with someone who apparently doesn't think it's important from a social point of view?

I still don't understand how the van can be imported and not re-registered on French plates?

My understanding was that once a vehicle had been permanently exported (which presumable it has been so that it could be imported?) - then it was no longer road legal on British plates in the UK?

So by the same token, surely it cannot be road legal in France on UK plates either?

Message to David....had not realised you chose when open discussions should end!!!!!

sounds bloody dodgy to me :-O

the local police aren't the people you need to talk to, the situation is very clear and Mark has given you the links to the relevant info - it ain't legal tout simplement !


You say now that your van is imported into France, but in a previous reply you wrote "I have a white van on English plates ,been here 10 years
Insured in Lloyd's of London ,can't register it because not imported into France and customs won't issue clearance certificate"

So is it imported or not?

I deleted my last reply because I put "dangerous, insured vehicles" when I meant to put "dangerous, uninsured" vehicles, though I think the reply was understood.

David, can you go easy with the inflammatory language please, you are free to make your point in this discussion as always on SFN but please be courteous.