This information is based on our
experiences importing a New Hymer from Germany in March 2001 after
much research and a long search as described in the other importing pages.
facts and figures about Importing:
information is given in good faith but no warranty is given or implied!
Can I really
save money? Yes - up to £8000
in our case. The actual saving depends on exchange rate differences
as well as motorhome price differentials across Europe.
What are the
hidden costs?: Not many but you need to know what
1) Several visits abroad, for us a 'recce'
at about £400, plus one collection at £250. We didn't count our
visit to the Dusseldorf show the year earlier since we'd have done that
anyway. You should really budget for two 'recces'. 2) Temporary
registration and insurance, we paid 410DM for this (about £125). 3)
Registering here, nominally £25 but you might also like to purchase a
private plate for £250 upwards. 4) Making a European camping-car legal in
the UK with a UK speedo (Fiat instrument cluster) cost us £235 and UK headlamps about £160, you might
have to modify mirrors and rear lights on some older motorhomes and you'll need
an MOT if it's over three years old. 5) If 'new' the difference
between German VAT at 16% and UK VAT at 17½%. 6) Bank and exchange
rate costs; international money moving is not cheap we were charged nearly
£100 in total for the whole project. Be aware that the receiving bank may
charge for transfers too, we transferred £16K as a final payment and were
charged a quoted £46 by Lloyds plus £24 by the receiving German bank. There are now
some internet based cheap money transfers - do investigate but also
remember that these are large sums of money - caveat emptor! Larger
purchases (about £25K+ should attract preferential commercial exchange
rates. 7) Check with
your UK insurer about surcharges for lhd, some charge some don't!
So what's the
total 'hidden' cost? This must vary from case to case but
I believe it's unrealistic to budget on less than £1000. Many
stories of "I did it for £200" seem to leave out real costs
like the recces, fuel, etc. Some people count all this as 'holiday' -
some holiday, chasing down Autobahns looking at disappointing second-hand
How can I find
the motorcaravan I'm looking for? You really have to use the Internet.
Some major sites are/were
The major manufacturers are also important, Hymer for instance has a very
good second-hand section on its
website - but note you'll only find it in the German pages, if you opt for
English the dealers and second-hand info will not be offered! Communicate by
email and phone, you will be taken seriously if you phone at least once.
You may also get more email replies if you open with a few words of
German, even if these simply apologise for having to use English.
significant differences between buying second-hand and new?
A few, mostly relating to guarantees and also some UK
formalities. When asking your local VRO (Vehicle Registration
Office) for leaflets and forms be very specific about new or second-hand.
Does anyone /
everyone speak English? Anyone - yes, everyone - no. Be
ruthless, your supplier must be Internet aware/friendly and English
speaking, if not move on!
How will the
vehicle differ from one I buy here? Apart from the obvious lhd, kph
speedo and wrong headlights there are a number of differences. A C-class cab
is unlikely to be trimmed to match the living quarters as it is here, there probably won't be any
carpets at all, you may get exterior lockers not found on UK versions,
kitchens may be smaller often without ovens or grills, bathrooms will be
better and so on. On a more practical level the 12v and 230v sockets will
be 'continental', the gas fittings won't fit UK bottles, gas cupboards may
be designed for 11Kg bottles and the common 13Kg UK bottles may not fit. In Germany you'll
probably find a greater proportion of vehicles with bigger engines and
also higher mileages are commonplace. There will be oddities too - German TV or
navigation satellite systems for example.
Will there be
difficulties over warranties? Tricky question - yes and no.
UK 'official agents/importers' will try to make life difficult for you but
our new Hymer on Fiat is fully guaranteed complete with free recovery
anywhere in Europe. You might find that you have to pay for warranty
work and claim back the cost from the converter. Base vehicle
warranties may differ, our German Fiat warranty is for just one year a UK
one is for three years. Subsequent dealings with Brownhills have
been difficult, they claim they are trying to give their own customers a
de-luxe service but in practice many of us think they give import owners a
second class service, I guess it depends on your viewpoint!
What do I have
to do to the vehicle to make it legal in the UK? Modify the lights front and rear -
new headlamps plus the high intensity rear fog lamp if single must be
mounted on the offside. The speedo must read mph - clearly day and
night, the latter is the tricky bit! MOT if over 3 years old. Some
of these items are not included in the British MOT but a tester can refuse
to carry out the test if he believes the vehicle does not meet the
relevant construction and use regulations.
procedures do I have to go through to export it from Germany? Get the seller to help you - you
need a transfer of ownership plus temporary registration and export
insurance plus plates - all done in person on the day - do plan to start the
process reasonably early in the day! The formal procedures are quite
different in Germany so unless you are German speaking, only deal with an
English speaking vendor and get agreement that they will help you with all
the formalities as part of the deal. Both dealers and private
sellers may help with this.
How can I
drive / register/ tax insure it for the journey home? The 9-day temporary registration and
insurance documents from Germany as above. I don't know the
procedures exporting from France. UK insurers will insure on a
chassis number but only on UK soil. There are new complications with
insurance since we imported ours, it is now (2003) very difficult to get fully
comp insurance for the drive home. Some buyers are now getting the German
vendor to deliver to a UK port or at least onto a ferry bound for the UK.
What do I have
to do at customs? Nothing - drive straight through.
Show your documentation if asked.
What does the
law say about importing, tax, etc.? You must notify your VRO within a
reasonable time taken to be 7-10 days possibly up to 30 days
exceptionally. If in doubt notify them even if you can't provide
everything they need (like an MOT). If a technically a new motorhome i.e. one 'less
than six months old with less than 6000km on the clock' you must pay the
difference in VAT - Germany's VAT is 16% ours is 17½%. If you
are not VAT registered you may have to pay the 17½% VAT here and then
claim the 16% back from Germany - budget for the cashflow! If VAT
registered you can export VAT free and then pay the UK VAT here.
How do I get
it registered and taxed once I get it home? Fill in the forms given to you by
your local VRO. Make sure you use the right form for new or for
second-hand - check by phone since there are/have been changes and may also be
temporary working procedures at any given time.
just get someone else to do it all for me?
Yes and they will make a charge or add
a mark-up, typically about £1-£2,000 or even more. Talk of "only £500"
usually hides charges for 'expenses', exchange rate margins and negotiated
discounts. A 10% discount is often part of the deal in Germany even
from major dealers.
Would we do it again? Certainly!
If the economics were still right.
site links: Facts
Import Story Pt1
Import Story Pt2
Import Story Pt3
Import Story Pt4