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  #41  
Old 01.11.2009, 18:17
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Re: car import from USA

Here is my experience importing my VW Jetta from the United States. I'll try to give as much detail as possible to give you a realistic idea as many posts are just general opinions or info.

1. When deciding to import or not, I looked at the value of my car (good value, great car as it is a TDI) and what I could sell it for in the US and what I could buy in Switzerland for that money. Basically I found that what I could get in Switzerland was crap compared to my car and new (and used) cars were sold at premiums way more than what I wanted to pay. I did not want a car payment after just having paid off the car and I loved the car. I figured a VW in Switzerland would not be a problem in terms of service and parts.

2. Shipping it was not bad. I did NYC to Rotterdam for about $1,200. The company let me pack the car full of stuff so the trunk and back seats were packed with personal items. The trunk was locked and the valet key used for shipping. Everything arrived on the other side and the Dutch are very nice people when we wen to pick it up in Rotterdam. Note: If you are shipping to a country that is not your final destination then they will require you to leave a deposit for that country's import taxes. You will get the money back once you finish the import in the country of destination. Bringing the car to Switzerland as personal goods and car older than 6 mo. I did not pay any taxes.

3. Once the car was in Switzerland, took it to a customs office locally instead of declaring at the border - quicker and don't have to worry about crossing when they're around. Upon finishing the import at the customs office, the deposit in Rotterdam was returned and I was authorized to drive for 1 year with foreign plates. I insured the car through GEICO overseas for the year as Swiss companies want you to have Swiss plates. Insurance was about $600 for the year.

4. I got the gas certificate (good for 2 years), I knew I would have to change the headlights to "e-codes." These are European headlights that are much better than the US standard ones. This is an upgrade you can do to your car anytime and it would be $500-$1,000 to do in the US and similar in Switzerland. You might as well upgrade to the e-codes if you like your mechanic in the US as you will have to do it here anyways. I wish I had, but it turned out alright in the end. I took it to a VW garage/dealer to get their recommendation about the inspection and they went over the car and gave me an estimate. I went through line by line with them to determine what it was that they wanted to do and why. I then decided to take it to the technical office myself to see what they said to try to not have to do everything the garage said.

5. You have to write in for a technical appt. and they assign you a time and date that is usually at least 2 or more weeks out. I was close to the 1 year deadline so it was a bit tight. The technical inspection was 120 CHF. They told me to fix everything the garage had pointed out. Damn! No luck there. Back to the garage with the details from the technical office as to what to fix (change headlights to e-codes, brake job and some minor things). Final price was about 2,000 CHF but this inclues the headlight upgrade that is worth it IMO.

6. This time (another 120 CHF 2nd tech appt.) I let the garage take the car up for the inspection and had them assure me it would pass. It did and they didn't charge me for the service. Although they did act like trying to import a car was crazy, not worth it and I might as well buy a new one - but they also sell cars for a living so not to be trusted there.

7. At this point it was a bit over a year for the plates - ooops. But no one said anything. I went to get my Swiss plates with the tech certification that I had passed, papers and insurance. When I got there they said the green card wasn't good enough to prove insurance and I had to have some sort of special document sent by the insurance company. luckily the insurance people knew what it was and sent it over in 5-10 min. but it still took me 1 1/2 hrs at the motor vehicles place to get the plates after much back and forth over all the exact documentation, ect. But finally I got the plates.

8. A little over a year, $3,500 (shipping, fees, "repairs") and much bureaucracy (aka headaches) later I am driving my US car in Switzerland completely legally. If your ready to spend some time and effort you can do it. How much do you love your car? How much do you want to spend? It was worth it for me. But sometimes wish I could have been fine with driving a '98 Fiat Punto with no air conditioning and crank windows instead of importing (but not really - my fully loaded car makes me happy every day).

9. Good luck!
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  #42  
Old 01.11.2009, 18:45
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Re: car import from USA

Hi - i imported my VW a month ago (from NJ). I did it for the reasons you mention, but also because it was a European car to start with (made in Germany) - i don t expect to make a lot of changes when I try to register it , and I intend to have them done in France, having identified them through visual comparison with the models that I see on the streets here and a little research.

I can recommend a shipper , and I can also advise you to pick up the car in Germany if you want to save money, rather than have it trucked over (cost me 600EUR from Bremen to ZRH). Pm me for more.

cheers
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  #43  
Old 01.11.2009, 19:06
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Re: car import from USA

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Has anyone dealt with importing a car from the USA?

I know for some European countries, the regulatory requirements sometimes make the import meaningless (e.g. blinkers have to be yellow/orange and not red, the shape of the headlights beam - with different shape etc.).

I have a relatively new car in the USA, which I will have to sell with big loss (so cheap nowadays to buy a brand new one from a dealer :-), so I consider should I go through the trouble to ship it to CH and deal with all the taxes and regulations.

Thanks!
Send me a PM and I'll give ya the ins and outs of importing a car. I'll give you my cell number if I hear from you.
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  #44  
Old 02.11.2009, 01:00
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Re: car import from USA

E-code headlamps won't fit my car. The Swiss version of the car is sold under a different model name. Now what?

This is the first I've heard of someone being required to swap headlamps. Could it be because it matches up with a local model therefore it has to be brought up to that model's spec?
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  #45  
Old 02.11.2009, 08:37
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Re: car import from USA

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E-code headlamps won't fit my car. The Swiss version of the car is sold under a different model name. Now what?

This is the first I've heard of someone being required to swap headlamps. Could it be because it matches up with a local model therefore it has to be brought up to that model's spec?
what car is it?
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  #46  
Old 02.11.2009, 13:26
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Re: car import from USA

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what car is it?
Honda Fit. Sold as the Jazz here.

The entire front clip is different due to US crash regs. The e-code headlamp assemblies would require the entire nose of the car to be replaced. Then it would likely fail the MOT due to the modifications. This might be a no-win situation.
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  #47  
Old 02.11.2009, 13:55
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Re: car import from USA

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E-code headlamps won't fit my car. The Swiss version of the car is sold under a different model name. Now what?

This is the first I've heard of someone being required to swap headlamps. Could it be because it matches up with a local model therefore it has to be brought up to that model's spec?
No, it's because USA DOT headlight specification is VERY different to European E-type standards. I read a very enlightening document (pun totally intended) that described history of vehicle regulations and headlight standards in Europe and the USA, and the document discussed how the USA maintained their own standards to protect their manufacturers in their market.

The Euro headlight spec is a lot more precise than the USA DOT spec.

A DOT headlight is much more vague in its beam pattern and puts less light on the road.
A Euro E headlight is very precise in the beam pattern

So whilst a Euro E standard headlight will likely fill the USA DOT standard, the other way around (DOT meeting E standards) is highly unlikely, in fact near impossible to work.

Your solutions may be limited to:
1. Replace entire front end of car to fulfil the requirements
2. Sell car as unregistered to a company that ships them to eastern Europe, and then let someone else worry about the problem in a (potentially) less rigid country.
3. Sell car for parts / scrap
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  #48  
Old 02.11.2009, 15:42
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Re: car import from USA

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Thanks for all the great info! I'm getting the impression that it may be more practical to just get a car there.

Congratulations, you worked that one out !!

It's just not worth the effort unless you are looking at something over CHF 70k, and even then, if you got this sort of money............just buy another new car in Switzerland.
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  #49  
Old 02.11.2009, 15:47
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Re: car import from USA

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Congratulations, you worked that one out !!

It's just not worth the effort unless you are looking at something over CHF 70k, and even then, if you got this sort of money............just buy another new car in Switzerland.
Absolutely! it makes sense for upper class German cars also sold here. Savings are well worth the hassle especially when you take into consideration how many US cars have many options as standard equipment. Here once you are done configuring a car your options would equal 1/3 of the price of the car
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  #50  
Old 02.11.2009, 16:24
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Re: car import from USA

Here's my take on the maths around my own car that I am in the middle of importing. I own a 2000 BMW 530D, with lots of miles on the clock, irish registered. The cost of buying an equivalent car here in CH is about 14,000 CHF from all my browsing of the 2nd hand sites. I couldn't get more than 4K for it if I sold it in Ireland at the moment, given the appalling state of the 2nd hand car market. I've also spent a fair bit on it in the last few years, keeping it up to BMW spec. To import it, I've had to spend the princly sum of 800 CHF on a new set of headlights. Thats it. The garage wanted to charge me for the European Cert of conformity, I got it myself from BMW for...zero. Similarly, the BMW garage suggested I needed new brake pads and discs, a local garage said that was simply wrong, they were just hunting for cash.

Admittedly, its been a pain in the ass to go to customs, then hawk it to Lausanne, and then for an expertise (not done yet), but it seems to me that I am about 7K better off for doing this, given that I don't see any compelling reason to sell it for a few years yet....it does seem immeasurably easier to import a european car though..
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  #51  
Old 02.11.2009, 16:31
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Re: car import from USA

well it depends on how long your staying for, and how long you intend to keep the car for, an imported car in switzerland is worth next to nothing, you'll struggle to sell it, if its involved in a crash the insurance will pay out a lot less then if it was a swiss car etc

If you go back to ireland you'll also need to re-import it back there along with the costs involved in that, and again it will be shown as an import there now too, so again, will be worth less.

So if your staying here for a long time and intended to drive the car until it dies then yes it may be worth it. For us after importing 1 of our cars we decided it wasn't worth trying to import the other, sold it in the uk and bought a swiss one.
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  #52  
Old 02.11.2009, 16:36
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Re: car import from USA

Sorry - you are quite correct - my take on it is that I'll be keeping it till it kicks the bucket, or I'll sell it for 1K CHF when it has outlived its usefulness to me. I just hate the idea of paying out for a car when i have a perfectly decent one, although this will change I am sure if it starts keeling over...
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  #53  
Old 27.06.2010, 21:47
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Import of US Car

Dear All,

I wanted to know if it's possible to bring your car from the U.S. to Switzerland. What would be the requirements/ process i.e. taxation, registration etc.

Thanks,
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  #54  
Old 27.06.2010, 21:51
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Re: Import of US Car

Firstly my car isn't in the US and secondly this has been covered to death before. Search is keyword...

[EDIT: we've been moved there]
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  #55  
Old 10.10.2010, 02:16
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Re: car import from USA

In the end moving my BMW 335i from Florida to Lausanne has been a piece of cake. Did not do any modifications to my lights and have swiss plates now.

Even better, I can sell my car for more than what I paid for 4 years ago
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  #56  
Old 10.10.2010, 02:41
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Re: car import from USA

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Here is my experience importing my VW Jetta from the United States. I'll try to give as much detail as possible to give you a realistic idea as many posts are just general opinions or info.

1. When deciding to import or not, I looked at the value of my car (good value, great car as it is a TDI) and what I could sell it for in the US and what I could buy in Switzerland for that money. Basically I found that what I could get in Switzerland was crap compared to my car and new (and used) cars were sold at premiums way more than what I wanted to pay. I did not want a car payment after just having paid off the car and I loved the car. I figured a VW in Switzerland would not be a problem in terms of service and parts.


9. Good luck!
I am also trying to make a decision and I think I have the same situation as you mentioned...my car is also German...
What I am thinking now is whether I shal make diagnostics and (possible) repairs before shipping to CH or after
As for prices (official dealer)
full diagnostics is about 250-300 USD
repairs - ofc it depends but last time it was about 1.500 USD (what I remember now was -conditioning, oil, brake blocks, smth else ...) sorry, not an expert in technical terms :-(((

What would you recommend?
thanks in advance
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  #57  
Old 10.10.2010, 11:26
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Re: car import from USA

If you have a mechanic you like in the US and trust them, do it before importing. It will always be cheaper (even if it seems pricey, will be even more $$ in CH) and you can communicate in English any car tech terms, ect. Headlights need to be e-codes no matter what, so if your car doesn't have them (they might if they were a luxury option on your German vehicle), change them out. The Swiss are very exacting so they still might point out some things to fix (having a perfectly clean motor, no oil drips) but it shouldn't be anything major if you've already done the service.

Again, it's only worth it based on your own personal opinions about the car and how long you plan on keeping it. I'm still very happy with my decision and saved a lot of $ not buying a car in CH.
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  #58  
Old 10.10.2010, 19:49
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Re: car import from USA

It is really easy to import your car, don't listen to anyone that tells you it is not. It just comes down to money.

If you have xenon headlights, you have to have headlight washers and also the automatic suspension compensation.

If you have halogen lamps, all is good.

I can recommend a mechanic who was good and knows the people at the inspection place. Don't take it there yourself, you will get screwed.
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  #59  
Old 10.10.2010, 20:00
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Re: car import from USA

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I can recommend a mechanic who was good and knows the people at the inspection place. Don't take it there yourself, you will get screwed.
It's cantonal.

It's usualy the apprentice or low life who takes cars for the MFK test, good mechanics got other things to do !
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  #60  
Old 10.10.2010, 20:18
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Re: car import from USA

I have to disagree Sir.

The garage I went to only had one mechanic. He ran the shop and did all the work.

Its all about who you know here, isn't it.
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