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  #1  
Old 22.01.2009, 21:44
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car import from USA

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!
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Old 22.01.2009, 21:52
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Re: car import from USA

Try the search function of the forum, this topic was discussed in epic dimensions. To my understanding the bottom line was: Lot of costs, lot of troubles and a much lower resell value will make a good looking deal turn sour.
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Old 22.01.2009, 22:00
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Re: car import from USA

Thanks, Treverus!

I already did. Things change, however.
For example the change in the fuel price and the slow down in the trading worldwide changed the shipping price.
Not to mention how much the market of the used car moved to the sour sector here in the USA
(there are dealers selling new cars - 2 for the price of 1. Hard to beat that :-)
So I was just looking for newer experience.
Not to mention, that shipping from East Coast, West Coast and Midwest are 3 different animals.
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Old 22.01.2009, 22:14
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Re: car import from USA

First thing to get used to once you moved here: Things change, but not in Switzerland

So whatever you find on costs and paperwork to be done will usually remain valid. I sold my German car when I moved here because the tests to prove that a "German Honda" is identical to a "Swiss Honda" were not worth the time and money... shipping costs are surely a different topic but most probably not the biggest issue you would have.
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Old 23.01.2009, 16:27
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Re: car import from USA

True, true...
But car repairs will be expensive both on cars that are imported as well as on cars that are bought in CH. It's just an expensive place to have a car, no? :-)
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Old 24.01.2009, 13:59
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Re: car import from USA

I've seen quite a few US cars over here on Swiss plates. I've noticed them because either there's no European equivalents, the blinkers are red instead of yellow, or the yellow daylight lights (dimmed blinkers/indicators in UK speak) are on all the time (like a Volvo). I don't think it's too much of a big deal to import US cars, but I wouldn't have thought it was worth saving 1 or 2 thousand dollars though due to maybe one or two modifications plus the parts issue. Depends on the car, etc. Any help from the other stories?
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Old 13.08.2009, 18:00
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car import from USA

Hi everyone,

I am thinking about importing my car to Switzerland when I move there at the end of the year. According to their requirements and if I understand well what was already said here, if the car is bought more than 6 months prior to the arrival there is no taxes, fees, etc. if bought less than 6 months, then taxable, etc.

My question is: Which day is considered the "buy" date? The day you pay off the car and have the title with your name on OR the day you signed the loan contract and drive it the first time??

If anyone knows I will appreciate...thanks!
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Old 13.08.2009, 18:05
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Re: car import from USA

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Hi everyone,

I am thinking about importing my car to Switzerland when I move there at the end of the year. According to their requirements and if I understand well what was already said here, if the car is bought more than 6 months prior to the arrival there is no taxes, fees, etc. if bought less than 6 months, then taxable, etc.

My question is: Which day is considered the "buy" date? The day you pay off the car and have the title with your name on OR the day you signed the loan contract and drive it the first time??

If anyone knows I will appreciate...thanks!

the date you picked up the car, so loan contract date.

But

As for no fee's LOL, yes there will still be plenty!! we just imported our uk car, the total for all the paperwork, the import 'test' etc etc came to just under 5k chf.
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  #9  
Old 13.08.2009, 22:06
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Re: car import from USA

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No in a word. this country will stock EU spec parts, a US car will require US spec parts which have to be ordered in and who do you think will have to pay for that extra service. Read the other threads that are full of horror stories.
I have found a few places that specialise in US parts. Having a Jeep, I checked into it.
Not saying that importing will work for ya but do the sums etc
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Old 14.08.2009, 00:11
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Re: car import from USA

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Hi everyone,

I am thinking about importing my car to Switzerland when I move there at the end of the year. According to their requirements and if I understand well what was already said here, if the car is bought more than 6 months prior to the arrival there is no taxes, fees, etc. if bought less than 6 months, then taxable, etc.

My question is: Which day is considered the "buy" date? The day you pay off the car and have the title with your name on OR the day you signed the loan contract and drive it the first time??

If anyone knows I will appreciate...thanks!
Personally I guess it'd be the date what's written on the car ownership papers from your state. They'd be no fees in terms of VAT/sales tax, but then there may be other things that'd need adjusting. I wouldnt' know for modern US cars.... a start maybe would be the Swiss distributor of your vehicle??? Importing a car made for distribution in the European market is much easier (lights, emissions, etc.).
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Old 15.08.2009, 20:55
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Re: car import from USA

Thanks for those advices.
Actually I have a Jeep Cherokee 3.7L (called Liberty here in US) that I just finished to pay and with very low mileage.
Hope it's worthy to bring it...or too bad I'll be ruined!!
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  #12  
Old 15.08.2009, 21:18
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Re: car import from USA

I basically have the same question, but the car I would be bringing is a German car - BMW. I would hope this would make it easier to service. Am I right in my assumption?
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Old 16.08.2009, 11:17
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Re: car import from USA

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I basically have the same question, but the car I would be bringing is a German car - BMW. I would hope this would make it easier to service. Am I right in my assumption?
Yes and no.

BMWs pose interesting problems:

Your car is programmed for the USA
Some items like the radio, and TMC, will not work properly in Europe until reprogrammed. A friend has a USA BMW and is very frustrated at lack of FM radios stations as the radio is still in USA mode.
There are some good reprogramming experts in the Czech Republic, probably in Germany, but not in Switzerland

Some items of the car are USA specific and will/may need to be changed. Headlights is a classic example. And speedo readings must be kmph, not mph

If other items are USA-specific and they need replacing, then you may be up for extra cost and delay.

You may have insurance issues, as insurers may not like insuring unusual vehicles (non-Euro models)

But otherwise the regulary usage-based servicing for the BMW would be the same in CH as in the USA (except pricing, but that's another topic...)
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Old 16.08.2009, 19:35
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Re: car import from USA

Thanks for all the great info! I'm getting the impression that it may be more practical to just get a car there.
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Old 16.08.2009, 21:30
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Re: car import from USA

I imported my MB ML from East Coast US to Switzerland in December 2008 as part of our household goods. If you want to import as part of household goods, the car needs to be imported within a year of moving here.
We bought another car here in Zurich in November 2008 and that car dealer was so kind as to take care of all concerned with regard to the imported car.
My GPS does not work here and I cannot set my clock to CET. The dashboard shows miles, however I can switch to a screen where the speed is shown in KM and that was approved by the Strassenverkehrsamt. My radio works fine. Biggest cost for me was the purchase of winter wheels and winter tires.
There are some steps that need to be followed and it took a couple of weeks to get all done.

I do not regret importing the car; I would have lost money selling the car in US and buying the exact same one here.

I guess it depends on the make of the car whether it is worthwhile or not; one needs to do his homework beforehand.
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Old 16.08.2009, 21:39
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Re: car import from USA

A co-worker of mine imported a brand new VW from the US, and
he had very few modifications to do for the car. The total
changes and inspection fees were about 550CHF. Of course,
he had to pay the import duties. He still came out ahead
in the long run.
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Old 16.08.2009, 21:57
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Re: car import from USA

So to sum up all postings above:

Whether it is worth while or not varies hugely depending on the make and model and year of the car, and the personal preferences of the owner.

An "I want everything to work 100%" owner will have different expectations to an "As long as it goes and it's legal I don't care" owner.
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Old 18.08.2009, 18:46
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Re: car import from USA

This question pops up a lot on this forum; and always my initial thought is- unless your car is a bit special, or the price differential is enormous, I wouldn't bother because of all the hassle you will face trying to import it, sell on at a later date etc.
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Old 21.08.2009, 12:43
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Re: car import from USA

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Hi everyone,

I am thinking about importing my car to Switzerland when I move there at the end of the year. According to their requirements and if I understand well what was already said here, if the car is bought more than 6 months prior to the arrival there is no taxes, fees, etc. if bought less than 6 months, then taxable, etc.

My question is: Which day is considered the "buy" date? The day you pay off the car and have the title with your name on OR the day you signed the loan contract and drive it the first time??

If anyone knows I will appreciate...thanks!
I have just imported my car from the US and have found the process much easier than what some people have stated here. Granted, I used a shipping company that handled all the paperwork for me, I have not had to pay ANY import or customs duties... which I was assured I would have to, because the title of the car had not been in my name for 6 months prior to moving here. (the car was a gift from my parents, but I was too lazy to actually change the title while I was in the states). I only changed the title days prior to moving to Switzerland, but the fact I could prove that I was driving the car six months prior (the accepted my insurance card with my name on it as proof) the waived all import and customs duties. I found the customs guys much more reasonable and understanding than some of the people on this forum make them out to be.

Having said this, I have not registered the car here yet (you have up to a year to do that) so I'm still driving around with NY plates. I still have to figure out how much the conversion costs will be, but I have it on good authority that you can have the work done in Germany much cheaper than in Switzerland (though this may also be because I am driving a German car, just US specs). Therefore my advice would be to figure out exactly what needs to be modified here in Switzerland, then take the work order to Germany and see if it would be cheaper there. If so, combine a trip to Germany for a few days with your car modification.

Good luck!
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Old 21.08.2009, 12:52
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Re: car import from USA

look at the economics of it. If it adds up do it. I did and do not regret it.
If you import a car bring a European car. Stay away from US (unless sold here) or Japanese/Korean.
Shipping has gotten much cheaper..RO/RO is the cheapest. I brought my bimmer from Chicago.
Only negative:
radio frequency is still US based so I do not pick up all stations here in Europe(Friendly Kiwi has promised to help me out with this...months ago)

Dollar is going downhill so it will become even more attractive to bring upper class rides from US. It is worth it and not complicated at all.

J
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