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Old 22.05.2013, 11:57
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Car importation, number plates and drivers licenses

Hi everyone,

We recently moved here, and I have a few questions about importing - i've done some searches already, but i'm stilll a little confused....

So, the situation is - we have 2 old MX5's in the UK in storage. We love these cars, not worth a great deal, but have alot of sentimental value.

Car number 1 is a UK original car, however it has had some modification - specifically very low suspension (was set up as a track car). It is road legal in the UK, with MOT etc. As I understand it, because these are non-standard mods, importing the car to CH will be very difficult and costly? Is that correct?

Car number 2 is a Japanese import, completely standard, and road legal (MOT etc) in the UK. However, as it is a Japanese import (imported to UK about 5 years ago) importing the car to CH will be very difficult and costly? Correct?

So the other option we have is to keep the cars in UK, then being one of them out here for the summer - but finding insurance is difficult for non-uk residents. As I understand it Stuart Collins are the only people who could offer such insurance? Also, although at the moment still have UK licenses, in about 6 months we'll have to trade them in for CH ones, meaning that we can't drive a UK registered car in CH on CH license?

Does this also mean, if I have a CH license, and my parents come over in their UK car, I can't drive it? Or is it ok that because the car isn't registered to me, that I can drive a UK car on CH license?

We would prefer not to sell the MX's and just keep them in storage (with maintainance) in case we come back to the UK, but to be honest, thats not a great solution...

Thanks very much for the help - i'm just trying to get my head around all the rules!
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Old 22.05.2013, 13:54
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Re: Car importation, number plates and drivers licenses

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Hi everyone,

We recently moved here, and I have a few questions about importing - i've done some searches already, but i'm stilll a little confused....

So, the situation is - we have 2 old MX5's in the UK in storage. We love these cars, not worth a great deal, but have alot of sentimental value.

Car number 1 is a UK original car, however it has had some modification - specifically very low suspension (was set up as a track car). It is road legal in the UK, with MOT etc. As I understand it, because these are non-standard mods, importing the car to CH will be very difficult and costly? Is that correct?

Car number 2 is a Japanese import, completely standard, and road legal (MOT etc) in the UK. However, as it is a Japanese import (imported to UK about 5 years ago) importing the car to CH will be very difficult and costly? Correct?

So the other option we have is to keep the cars in UK, then being one of them out here for the summer - but finding insurance is difficult for non-uk residents. As I understand it Stuart Collins are the only people who could offer such insurance? Also, although at the moment still have UK licenses, in about 6 months we'll have to trade them in for CH ones, meaning that we can't drive a UK registered car in CH on CH license?

Does this also mean, if I have a CH license, and my parents come over in their UK car, I can't drive it? Or is it ok that because the car isn't registered to me, that I can drive a UK car on CH license?

We would prefer not to sell the MX's and just keep them in storage (with maintainance) in case we come back to the UK, but to be honest, thats not a great solution...

Thanks very much for the help - i'm just trying to get my head around all the rules!
The first MX5 will be a big issue, the second might be ok, bring the car & see what the mfk people say.

You can't drive your fathers UK reg car in CH . You need permission to drive a foreign registered car in CH, which comes from the customs when you declare the car at the border.
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Old 22.05.2013, 14:29
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Re: Car importation, number plates and drivers licenses

- You can drive with a CH driving licence in the UK and in CH
- You can drive with a UK driving licence in the UK and in CH
This is the legal situation as far as police are concerned..

BUT for insurance purposes (as you must also have valid insurance in all cases):
- In UK, insurance is on a named driver basis (only the people named on the insurance policy can drive the car).
- In CH (my understanding) the insurance goes with the car. Other people can drive it (and be insured) as long as they have the owners permission and a driving license.

So, if someone comes with a UK car into Switzerland, you can drive (regardless of license you have) as long as you are named on the UK policy. But the UK insurance (need to read the policy) may insist that only UK license holders can be on the policy as named drivers, so immediately after you change from UK->CH licence if you are on your dad's policy the insurance may assume you are automatically removed. Need to check.

If you leave the cars in the UK, you will find it difficult to find insurance for both of these reasons: (i) you dont have a UK licence, but a CH one; (ii) you dont live there. But some are more easy to allow foreign people to be addional drivers. So, eg, you keep the cars in the UK, but have an insurance on your dad's name, with you as a second driver to drive them during the summer.

If you go down the route of importing them, the first car will be a big problem (the swiss dont like modifications). Also, you know that everyone has one-off go at importing all their stuff into Switzerland (including cars) tax free. But if you already used this option (eg when you send your household goods into switzerland when you moved here), then you cannot import them tax free and you will have to pay tax (roughtly vat at 8% of the value of each car). So importing is not free. But once done they will have Swiss plates and you would have Swiss insurance, road tax etc (which are also not cheap by themselves). You need to sort out parking spaces for them - depending where you live, parking places are really expensive here so something that you also need to consider.
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Old 22.05.2013, 14:49
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Re: Car importation, number plates and drivers licenses

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- You can drive with a CH driving licence in the UK and in CH
- You can drive with a UK driving licence in the UK and in CH
This is the legal situation as far as police are concerned.
With the caveat that FMF mentioned. A CH resident is not normally allowed to drive a foreign registered car within Switzerland unless it has been imported.

If the OP fancies taking it for a ride though, their father can drive them to the border and they can take it for a blast on the autobahn (or Nurburgring).
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Old 22.05.2013, 20:27
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Re: Car importation, number plates and drivers licenses

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With the caveat that FMF mentioned. A CH resident is not normally allowed to drive a foreign registered car within Switzerland unless it has been imported.

If the OP fancies taking it for a ride though, their father can drive them to the border and they can take it for a blast on the autobahn (or Nurburgring).
Is it true - blanket rule - or are there ifs??? I would be interested in finding out the fine print.

I understand you shouldn't be allowed if it's your car and it stays here, but: if it's someone else's car, visiting you in CH for a short period, and they are right there in the car as a passenger (so they haven't abandonded their car here with you), are you still not allowed to drive ?? what is the logic ?
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Old 22.05.2013, 21:01
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Re: Car importation, number plates and drivers licenses

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Is it true - blanket rule - or are there ifs??? I would be interested in finding out the fine print.

I understand you shouldn't be allowed if it's your car and it stays here, but: if it's someone else's car, visiting you in CH for a short period, and they are right there in the car as a passenger (so they haven't abandonded their car here with you), are you still not allowed to drive ?? what is the logic ?
It's a customs offence, which is the big & very expensive issue...... The car has been imported by a non resident for tourism so it's tax free.

Once the car is used by a resident tax & duties need to be paid.

Someone coming to live in Switzerland may bring 1 car that the has been owned for at least 6 months, the condition is that ITS DECLARED within 1 year of arriving, if the car is smuggled in & used it won't fall under the exemption.

There was a case of a Stolen Super Car that was towed from CH to DE. The thieves were liable to 100k of VAT..... Had they driven the car over the border it could have been tax free.

DONT mess with Customs!

A hire car needs to be declared if brought to CH by a resident, they will get a very short exemption period to use it, 48 hours IIRC.
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Old 22.05.2013, 21:10
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Re: Car importation, number plates and drivers licenses

As already explained, there are no exceptions. Once you are registered as living here you may only drive Swiss registered cars, or rental cars abroad. The same insurance laws apply in the UK, ask your UK insurance broker.

You can import a used car, and either pay to have it tested as an individual car, or you take off all the modifications and import it as a known make and model.

You could buy another MX5 here, there are plenty of used ones on the market.
http://www.autoscout24.ch/de/autos/m...av=7&vehtyp=10
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Old 21.10.2015, 15:41
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Re: Car importation, number plates and drivers licenses

I may be facing the same situation. Does anybody have a reference to Swiss regulations where I can read up on the details? German is fine. Thanks!
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Old 21.10.2015, 16:17
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Re: Car importation, number plates and drivers licenses

The first car will present you with much less of a problem than the second.

If the modification was done in the UK (and the parts weren't imported from outside Europe and have CE markings) then the car would pass its MfK as long as the rest of it is roadworthy.

The problem is the Japanese car. You need a certificate of conformance to import without a very costly homologation procedure. Mazda will only provide these for UK cars (as I found to my great dismay when trying to import a Japanese FD3S). For the RX7, this homologation procedure was going to cost about 16k CHF. I'm not sure how different MX5s were between Japan and Europe, but often there are loads of little details that are necessary to fix, like washers for the headlights etc etc.
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Old 21.10.2015, 16:37
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Re: Car importation, number plates and drivers licenses

Thanks. I did some more searching and found this post. Sorry for not being thorough enough before.
Driving a car with foreign plate with Swiss Driving License in Switzerland

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Personen mit Wohnsitz in der Schweiz dürfen auf schweizerischem Zollgebiet (CH-Staatsgebiet ohne das Zollausschlussgebiet Samnaun jedoch inkl. die Zollanschlussgebiete Fürstentum Liechtenstein und die deutsche Gemeinde Büsingen) grundsätzlich keine unverzollten Motorfahrzeuge verwenden.

Für Mietfahrzeuge gelten besondere Bestimmungen. Danach können im Schweizer Zollgebiet wohnhafte Personen für Mietfahrzeuge, die auf Grund eines im Ausland abgeschlossenen Mietvertrages eingeführt werden, eine Zwischenabfertigung mit Vormerkschein Formular 15.25, gültig 8 Tage seit Inkrafttreten des Mietvertrages, mindestens jedoch 3 Tage ab Grenzübertritt (Tag der Einreise nicht mitgerechnet) beantragen. Dieser Schein wird vom Schweizer Grenzzollamt auf Antrag ausgestellt. Der Mietvertrag ist unaufgefordert vorzuweisen.

Der Fahrzeugführer muss das Fahrzeug vor Ablauf der gesetzten Frist entweder selbst wieder ins Ausland zurückbringen oder nach Rücksprache mit der Vermieterin einer Mietwagenfirma in der Schweiz übergeben.

Andere ausländische Fahrzeuge als Mietfahrzeuge können in der Schweiz wohnhafte Personen nur sehr eingeschränkt verwenden. Zugestanden werden kann eine Zollanmeldung für die vorübergehende Verwendung für 12 Fahrten innerhalb eines Jahres. Dabei sind die Einfuhrabgaben (Zoll, Automobilsteuer und Mehrwertsteuer) durch Bürgschaft oder Bahrhinterlage sicherzustellen. Das Fahrzeug darf zudem nur für Fahrten über die Grenze verwendet werden und muss jeweils innert 3 Tagen wieder ins Ausland verbracht werden. Die Ein- bzw. Ausreisedaten sind von der jeweiligen Dienststelle auf dem Freipass bestätigen zu lassen. Weitergehende Zugeständnisse sind ausgeschlossen. Soll das Fahrzeug über diesen Rahmen hinaus verwendet werden, ist es definitiv zu verzollen. Widerhandlungen können die Verzollung des Fahrzeugs und die Einleitung eines Strafverfahrens zur Folge haben.
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Old 22.10.2015, 16:12
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Re: Car importation, number plates and drivers licenses

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The first car will present you with much less of a problem than the second.

If the modification was done in the UK (and the parts weren't imported from outside Europe and have CE markings) then the car would pass its MfK as long as the rest of it is roadworthy.

The problem is the Japanese car. You need a certificate of conformance to import without a very costly homologation procedure. Mazda will only provide these for UK cars (as I found to my great dismay when trying to import a Japanese FD3S). For the RX7, this homologation procedure was going to cost about 16k CHF. I'm not sure how different MX5s were between Japan and Europe, but often there are loads of little details that are necessary to fix, like washers for the headlights etc etc.

As it's said above the thing you really need is the certificate of conformity. I got sent mine for free. I believe modifications need to be notified and you need *Swiss* approval for them, but there might be some general exceptions. This applies to wheels too. My car's on slightly lowered Eibach springs which are dark grey in colour and the MFK didn't say a thing because it still looks more or less stock. Doesn't sound like that would be your case though. I also modified the lights to LHD and "activated" the rear fog lamp on the other side.

For the Japanese car, you might be able to get away with a cert of partial conformity and then make the relevant mods to meet the european spec, using genuine european parts, but this being Switzerland you probably can't and/or it will be stupid expensive.

Not that it's legal but quite a few folk drive around with UK plates for years (here in Basel where there are always French and German cars around) without ever having any problems. Similarly they retain their UK licences but I think in most cases these people still have a home in the UK and hope to argue that they're "on holiday" or something should anything happen. The police have basically admitted that it's not something they actively check.
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