Tips for importing a vehicle

Buying a vehicle abroad is a fun and exciting experience, but make sure that you are well prepared. It can be a major setback if you find out that the vehicle will not get a Dutch registration once you have arrived in the Netherlands. The RDW has six tips to help you bring your import adventure to a successful conclusion.
  1. The right documents
    It is often the case that people come away with incomplete documents when they purchase a vehicle. At the time of purchase, check whether the registration certificate is complete, because it consists of several parts in some countries. In addition, always check that the VIN on the registration certificate corresponds to the VIN in the vehicle.      
  2. Never rely on appearance alone
    If you are not familiar with the workings of motor vehicles yourself, bring someone who is when you go to buy one 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. Look under the vehicle too. You can also ask if the vehicle has an APK report (Annual test of vehicle safety report). If it is recent, this says something about the technical condition of the vehicle. The RDW transfers valid APK reports from EU Member States on a 1 to 1 basis.      
  3. Too good to be true

If a vehicle seems too good to be true, it often is too good to be true. Be wary if:

  • the vehicle has very low mileage but the car seats and mats are worn;
  • maintenance log books, service records or MOT reports are missing;
  • odometer readings in documents have been amended by hand;
  • the cambelt should have been replaced, but no date of replacement has been recorded. (this is often written on the cambelt cover on a sticker or in chalk or is mentioned in the maintenance log book).
  • the price is somewhat lower than what the vehicle would actually fetch on the market.

In the above cases, the odometer may have been rolled back. Research shows that the odometer has been rolled back in 10 per cent of cars imported from Germany. Try to find out whether the odometer reading is feasible on the basis of reliable documents. In Belgium, the vendor must provide a ‘Car-Pass’, which includes mileage data amongst other things. Other countries do not have such an effective means of recording odometer readings, so you have to rely on other sources. Compare the odometer reading on the dashboard with that in the APK report, any repair invoices or maintenance log book of the vehicle. You should 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 Dutch association against odometerfraud (VAT).

4.  Request a purchase invoice
Ask for a purchase invoice or sales agreement, even if it is handwritten and signed. This at least gives you something to fall back on in case something goes awry after the sale. You should also ask the dealer abroad and your own garage in the Netherlands what the arrangements are regarding warranty and goodwill.

5.   Being wary of vehicles showing signs of damage
If you buy a vehicle abroad, showing signs of damage, you must bear in mind that it will be subject to additional inspection requirements (the so-called damage inspection) in the Netherlands. The additional damage inspection incurs costs.

It also often takes longer to obtain a registration certificate.

6.    Estimation of taxation of Passenger Cars and Motorcycles (BPM)
Check in advance how much BPM you have to pay so as not to risk getting any unpleasant surprises in the Netherlands. The BPM differs depending on the type of vehicle and must be paid to the tax administration. Find out how you can calculate it on the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration’s website.

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