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Multinational cars

Discussion in 'Motoring Related Discussion' started by Rocatin, Apr 16, 2018 at 9:39 PM.

  1. Rocatin

    Rocatin Member

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    I'm intending on buying a W124 coupe for my summer trips to France. I'd like the option to leave it there for more than six months. Which means registering it as French. Which means that it would become illegal for me to ever drive it again in the UK. Unless I reregister it as a UK vehicle. I'm struggling to find a way round this unless I continually reregister the vehicle. Or buy a spare... First world problem, I know, but I'd love to know a way through this.
     
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  2. LostKiwi

    LostKiwi Senior Member

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    How would anyone know how long it's been there?

    A quick and dirty way round it is a day trip to a neighbouring country as that resets the clock.
    So a day trip to Spain takes you out of France, resets the clock and gets another 6 months. You do need to be able to prove it though (parking ticket).
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018 at 10:16 PM
  3. OP
    Rocatin

    Rocatin Member

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    That's the usual approach that people take. However, insurance becomes problematic. And I'd be breaking French law by not registering it locally. The French are cracking down on this and there have been stories of cars being impounded and crushed.

    Rare, I'm sure, but I understand it has become routine for the French police to ask for proof of when the car entered the country if you are involved in some sort of incident. And my insurance company may well ask for similar in the event of a claim. Ferry booking confirmation or similar. There is also the problem of the MOT potentially becoming invalid by the time I bring it home.

    I don't actually think there is a solution other than to bring the car back.
     
  4. Brizzle

    Brizzle Senior Member

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    Sorry, I'm obviously missing something here, but why would it be illegal to drive the car here in the UK just because it's registered in France?
     
  5. rf065

    rf065 Senior Member

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    That's what I thought too?
    You see plenty of French registered cars driving in the UK

    Russ
     
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  6. OP
    Rocatin

    Rocatin Member

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    UK residents are not allowed to drive a foreign registered vehicle on UK roads.

    A non-resident can drive a foreign registered car in the UK. For a limited period. In the same way that it is ok for me to drive my uk registered car in France. I understand that all EU countries have the same law.

    The law was set up that way to stop people driving foreign registered vehicles to avoid taxes and driving offences.
     
  7. OP
    Rocatin

    Rocatin Member

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    An interesting thought. I am only 10km from the border with Spain and make the trip often. I still would like to find an insurance policy without the foreign trip limit. I'm hoping that classic car policies might be a little more flexible.
     
  8. anglaslt

    anglaslt Senior Member

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    I think the law is quite sensible in that respect. There is abuse of the temporary import system where cars are kept well beyond the (up to) 6 months allowed. Taking the car across the border does not restart the clock. It's an aggregate figure of up to 6 months in any 12 month period. Of course you may not get caught out but that's between you and your conscience.

    If you have a home in France and are permitted to permanently register your car there then I see no real difficulty in returning for UK visits, again as long as you stick within the 6 month rule. I legally have cars registered in two countries and occasionally travel from one to the other without difficulty, except insurance companies are tightening the rules. LT insurers will only insure trips to the UK by special arrangement (I suspect because of concerns over the abuse of the temporary import arrangements) and UK insurers will restrict the period of use abroad. No insurer in either country will insure a car registered in another country.

    I'm sure there are many instances of abuse of the system that are never detected but for me the real concern would be having insurance which is no longer valid because of overstaying.
     
  9. LostKiwi

    LostKiwi Senior Member

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  10. OP
    Rocatin

    Rocatin Member

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    Your car might be legally registered abroad, but that doesn't mean that it is legal for you to drive it in the UK (assuming you are UK resident). I don't think it is legal. And that's where I think the law is a problem.
     
  11. LostKiwi

    LostKiwi Senior Member

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    How would it not be? How do all those French tourists get on if not?
     
  12. OP
    Rocatin

    Rocatin Member

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    French residents can drive French registered cars is uk. UK residents can't drive their own French registered vehicles in the UK.

    If I eventually become French resident then it becomes ok to drive my French registered car in the UK, but illegal to drive my UK registered car in France. I think.

    I'd love for someone to tell me I'm wrong about this.
     
  13. LostKiwi

    LostKiwi Senior Member

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  14. anglaslt

    anglaslt Senior Member

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    I think you're getting a little too hung up over the residence issue. It is perfectly legal to have cars registered in more than one country at a time and to register a car you need only to have a right to live and a residential address. Here in LT I must have a residence visa and a registered living place. They are not frankly interested in whether or not I actually spend more than 180 days a year here.

    Whenever I drive outside the registered country (UK or LT), I carry the vehicle registration document, valid insurance, driving licence and passport. In 20 years of driving around Europe I've been asked to produce documents on many many occasions but never once a question about where I am permanently resident. I have no doubt that my documents and insurance are in order and if the visit abroad with the car is temporary, with a clear intention to return it to its country of registration, then I envisage no difficulty whatsoever.

    Yes, of course, if you are a UK resident and you bring a car from abroad with the intention of keeping it permanently in the UK then it is liable to re-registration. But even if permanently resident in UK there is, as I see it, nothing to stop you from havng a short visit home in your French registered car during your extended French holiday overseas.

    The real concern is about the permanent use of overseas registered vehicles deliberately to circumvent road tax, MOT tests, traffic offences and insurance requirements, and you're not contemplating any of that ;)
     
  15. umblecumbuz

    umblecumbuz Senior Member

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    Dual nationality?

    As LK says, it's a potential minefield - and the application of the law seems to differ from country to country.

    When we first bought a place in Malta we would drive there and stay for several months at a time. Malta was not then an EU member. We were caught out once as our UK road tax had expired. Zero tolerance, and the car was impounded until I managed to get the tax renewed. That was a pain!

    Since EU membership I can run my UK registered car in Malta without problems, using international insurance. I still need valid road tax and Mot, but Malta is now very tolerant of such situations. The hinge point seems to be whether you are a resident (ie. own a property) or just a long-stay tourist.

    Maybe France is stricter? In Italy, for instance, you can drive just about anything in some provinces and nobody cares a jot. Possibly the strict or lax application of regulations has a lot to do with the culture of the country.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018 at 12:48 PM
  16. anglaslt

    anglaslt Senior Member

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    Well it's certainly complicated and the more you read the more your head hurts.

    There is a wide gap though between those who try to be legal (all of us on here ;)) and those who deliberately and flagrantly fail to comply with the law.
     
  17. LostKiwi

    LostKiwi Senior Member

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    Indeed.... and it scuppers my plans somewhat.
    I currently have my r129 in my barn in France wintering over. It needs to come back in May but there is no way it will that I can see right now short of flying out to bring it back on an unplanned trip. I'd never thought about the time limits on leaving it there.
     
  18. OP
    Rocatin

    Rocatin Member

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    Legally, a UK resident cannot drive a car in the UK that they own if it is registered in another EU country. Not for even one second, whatever their intentions of returning it abroad. But then it's also not legal to drive at 80 mph in this country. Doesn't mean that people don't.

    Having a RHD vehicle on foreign plates is a pretty big clue for the Police to stop and enquire, if they are feeling bored with their day.

    Whether you would actually get prosecuted is another issue. The point of the law is to prevent people from dodging import duties and VAT (plus motoring offences). Having bought the car in the UK and re-registered it in France there is no import duty or VAT to dodge. And with the recent sharing of registration information amongst EU members, it is easy enough to trace owners and prosecute any driving offences. I'm not sure why there can't be a system for UK residents to declare foreign registered vehicles with DVLA and HMRC. They could easily prove that taxes are paid and that they are accountable for any motoring offences.

    But, to be honest, I am not really worried about the risk of prosecution. The police ought to have other things to worry about (although 'Operation Jessica' suggests otherwise). As long as I am insured I can manage the rest.

    My current thought is to leave the car registered in the UK and inform my insurance company just before I intend to use it abroad (which will only be 8 or 10 weeks a year). And to have an MOT appointment booked for whenever I intend to bring it home. And to drive very carefully... Which I think is how everyone else deals with it. Those that know, anyway.
     
  19. OP
    Rocatin

    Rocatin Member

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    An offer to pay a nominal on the spot cash "fine" sorts out anything of this sort in Italy.
     
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  20. LostKiwi

    LostKiwi Senior Member

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    The link I posted earlier is interesting
    https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/vehicles/registration/taxes/france/index_en.htm

    The particular interesting section is this one:
     

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