Tips when importing a vehicle

Buying a car abroad is fun and exciting, but make sure you are well prepared. It can be quite a setback if you find out, back in the Netherlands, that you have bought a pig in a poke. We have 6 tips to help you make your import adventure a success.
  • It often happens that people receive incomplete documents with the purchase. On purchase, check whether the vehicle registration certificate is complete, because in some countries it consists of several parts. Also always check that the VIN on the vehicle registration document is the same as the VIN stamped in the vehicle.
  • If you have no knowledge of automotive engineering, take someone with you who does when you are going to buy a vehicle, or ask your own garage in the Netherlands for help. Otherwise it is difficult to determine whether the vehicle is in good condition. Never rely on appearance alone. Also look under the vehicle. You can also ask whether the vehicle has a periodic technical inspection report (in Dutch: APK) If the report is recent, it gives an indication of the technical condition of the vehicle. At the import inspection, RDW may copy the expiry date of a valid technical inspection report (part of the registration certificate from an EU country).
  • If a vehicle seems too good to be true, it often is too good to be true. Be wary if:

    • the vehicle has a very low mileage while the car seats and mats are worn out;
    • maintenance booklets, lubrication cards or periodic technical inspection reports are missing;
    • mileages are manually adjusted in documents;
    • the timing belt is supposed to have been replaced, but no replacement date has been recorded. (this is often written on the timing belt cover with chalk or on a sticker, or in the service record book).
    • the price is much lower than the fair market value.

    In the above cases, it may be that the odometer reading has been rolled back. For example, research shows that 10 percent of German import cars have a rolled back odometer. Try to find out with reliable documents whether the odometer reading makes sense. In Belgium, the seller must provide a Car-Pass with mileage information, among other things. Other countries do not have such good records of odometer readings, so then you have to rely on other sources. Compare the odometer readings on the dashboard with the readings in the periodical technical inspection report, on repair receipts, if any, or in the vehicle's service record book. Also pay attention to the price of the vehicle.

    You can check the odometer readings of vehicles from certain countries via the website of the Vereniging Aanpak Tellerfraude (VAT).

  • Ask for a purchase receipt or sales agreement, even if it is handwritten and signed. Then you have at least something to fall back on should something go wrong after the sale. Also check with the dealer abroad and your own garage in the Netherlands about what the arrangements are for warranty and leniency. 
  • If you buy a damaged vehicle abroad, an additional technical inspection (the damage inspection) is required in the Netherlands. You have to pay for this additional damage inspection. It also often takes longer for you to receive a registration certificate.
  • Check in advance how much motor vehicle tax (BPM) you have to pay, to avoid any nasty surprises in the Netherlands. The motor vehicle tax is different for every vehicle type. You pay this tax to the Tax and Customs Administration. To find out how to calculate this, go to the website of the Tax and Customs Administration.

This webpage is part of an EU quality network

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