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Old 08.05.2012, 13:07
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Time to register a car after buying abroad

Hello all!

I have a very specific question for which I could not find the right answer in other posts. I have been a resident in Switzerland for over a year. If I buy a car in an EU country now, am I allowed to drive it in Switzerland for some time before registering it?

Thank you!
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Old 08.05.2012, 13:11
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Re: Time to register a car after buying abroad

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Hello all!

I have a very specific question for which I could not find the right answer in other posts. I have been a resident in Switzerland for over a year. If I buy a car in an EU country now, am I allowed to drive it in Switzerland for some time before registering it?

Thank you!
You have to declaire it at the border, pay taxes & start the registration process immediately.

Without the the customs papers, as a CH resident you cant drive a foreign registered vehicle here at all.
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Old 08.05.2012, 14:42
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Re: Time to register a car after buying abroad

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You have to declaire it at the border, pay taxes & start the registration process immediately.

Without the the customs papers, as a CH resident you cant drive a foreign registered vehicle here at all.
Thank you Fatmanfils! Not trying to argue of course, but I find that law too restrictive: imagine that I own several cars in my hometown of Mulhouse and don't register them in Switzerland as I never drive them here. But, for my holidays I want to take one of the cars to Lake Como. Am I supposed do drive around the country through France and Italy, always avoiding to cross the border into CH, to avoid breaking the law? Isn't it ironic that I am entitled to drive my vehicles in any European country... except the one I have the legal residence in?
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Old 08.05.2012, 14:57
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Re: Time to register a car after buying abroad

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Thank you Fatmanfils! Not trying to argue of course, but I find that law too restrictive: imagine that I own several cars in my hometown of Mulhouse and don't register them in Switzerland as I never drive them here. But, for my holidays I want to take one of the cars to Lake Como. Am I supposed do drive around the country through France and Italy, always avoiding to cross the border into CH, to avoid breaking the law? Isn't it ironic that I am entitled to drive my vehicles in any European country... except the one I have the legal residence in?
It's the same in any EU country, as far as CH is concerned the biggest issue is a customs offence.
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Old 08.05.2012, 15:27
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Re: Time to register a car after buying abroad

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It's the same in any EU country, as far as CH is concerned the biggest issue is a customs offence.
What do you mean? Before registering in Switzerland I had never been told that I was not allowed to drive cars on foreign plates.
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Old 08.05.2012, 15:30
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Re: Time to register a car after buying abroad

Whether they told you or not, it's still the law.

However, it's not a driving offense, it's a customs offense.

Tom
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Old 08.05.2012, 15:37
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Re: Time to register a car after buying abroad

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Whether they told you or not, it's still the law.

However, it's not a driving offense, it's a customs offense.

Tom
You mean that before moving to Switzerland, while living in Spain with a Spanish driving license, I was not allowed to drive a (for example) French registered car in Spain?

This would have meant that if a French friend invited me to a road trip I could not drive his car while in Spain, right?

Never heard of such a thing. Anyone has any more information on this?
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Old 08.05.2012, 15:42
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Re: Time to register a car after buying abroad

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You mean that before moving to Switzerland, while living in Spain with a Spanish driving license, I was not allowed to drive a (for example) French registered car in Spain?

This would have meant that if a French friend invited me to a road trip I could not drive his car while in Spain, right?

Never heard of such a thing. Anyone has any more information on this?
The key word here is his car. Not your car.
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Old 08.05.2012, 15:47
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Re: Time to register a car after buying abroad

I first heard of this in Norway, and only later here (most people don't seem to know about it here).

Tom
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Old 08.05.2012, 15:56
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Re: Time to register a car after buying abroad

Here is the page from the UK

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring...le/DG_10014623

UK residents are not allowed to use non-UK registered vehicles on UK roads. The only exceptions are:
  • if you work in another EU member state and use an EU-registered company car temporarily in the UK for business and private purposes
  • if you lease an EU-registered car and use this temporarily in the UK
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Old 08.05.2012, 16:10
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Re: Time to register a car after buying abroad

Wow thanks, had absolutely no idea about this!
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Old 08.05.2012, 17:06
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Re: Time to register a car after buying abroad

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Here is the page from the UK

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring...le/DG_10014623

UK residents are not allowed to use non-UK registered vehicles on UK roads. The only exceptions are:
  • if you work in another EU member state and use an EU-registered company car temporarily in the UK for business and private purposes
  • if you lease an EU-registered car and use this temporarily in the UK
There are several exceptions, none mentioned, and all of which have concerned me over past decades:

1. Diplomats. Many years ago my son, driving a Virginia-registered untaxed car, was followed by a cop car from a tire shop to his flat, whereupon the cop interrogated him on his "unlawful" use of a car with US licence plates. Upon presenting his valid diplomatic passport (he did not in fact have immunity in the UK, but for certain minor issues even a transient diplomat or family member is excused) the cop abandoned the inquiry. Visiting forces are also exempt; they use their home and/or a military licence and their cars retain their home-country licence plates.

2. Commercial vehicle operators: HGV and coaches. I once had a bus driver's licence, deemed "commercial". While one may be at technical risk, normally any vehicle driven in inter-state commerce in accordance with regulations and tax laws is allowed.

3. Hire cars. And I've noticed in Switzerland more than half the cars I hire are registered in some low-tax jurisdiction. A 2007 posting on this forum says "Most if not all the rental fleets are registered in AI for tax purposes". I've driven hire cars all over Europe with the knowledge of the lessor and without concern about what was once called "third jurisdiction licence": driving a car in one place with a driving licence issued by a second place and car tags issued by a third. Apparently it's an urban legend that this is illegal. I posted that question on a police form more than a decade ago.

But the problem of dual-residence is ongoing. If you can't have both a Swiss and a UK licence without either being lucky (I posted the Swiss rule that an EU licence will be lifted) or devious, and if you can't garage a car of one country in the other, then you are left in an impossible situation. At least with income tax you can get tax credit and demand competent authority choose one or the other as your principal tax domicile. But lots of people I know keep a UK car and a CH car and drive one or the other between the countries when it suits them.

I've raised this with respect to cars and -- more interestingly even -- boats with the European Commission but they are not interested. (Switzerland but not the UK and not certain other countries issues boat operator licences. One friend of mine uses a certificate issued after taking a boating course on the Thames. And I am reminded of the 1920s when not all places issued car driver licences. Eventually, for the convenience of their citizens, every US state (for example) did, but some just sent them by post on payment of a dollar. You could be blind and get one, and some blind people did, just for fun.)
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Old 08.05.2012, 17:59
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Re: Time to register a car after buying abroad

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There are several exceptions, none mentioned, and all of which have concerned me over past decades:

1. Diplomats. Many years ago my son, driving a Virginia-registered untaxed car, was followed by a cop car from a tire shop to his flat, whereupon the cop interrogated him on his "unlawful" use of a car with US licence plates. Upon presenting his valid diplomatic passport (he did not in fact have immunity in the UK, but for certain minor issues even a transient diplomat or family member is excused) the cop abandoned the inquiry. Visiting forces are also exempt; they use their home and/or a military licence and their cars retain their home-country licence plates.
Military forces are not subject to the import law as they're not considered residents. There is no exception for diplomats - they have to register their cars (although free of import charges). As far as Switzerland is concerned the only exemption is from having to change their driving license to a Swiss one.

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3. Hire cars. And I've noticed in Switzerland more than half the cars I hire are registered in some low-tax jurisdiction. A 2007 posting on this forum says "Most if not all the rental fleets are registered in AI for tax purposes". I've driven hire cars all over Europe with the knowledge of the lessor and without concern about what was once called "third jurisdiction licence": driving a car in one place with a driving licence issued by a second place and car tags issued by a third. Apparently it's an urban legend that this is illegal. I posted that question on a police form more than a decade ago. )
Hire cars are not concerned - you're not the owner of the car, are you? There is no "third jurisdiction license" issue - your license will be valid in whatever country you use it in as long as you're a transient.

So at least these two "exceptions" aren't really "exceptions"
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Old 08.05.2012, 19:35
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Re: Time to register a car after buying abroad

Military forces are not subject to the import law as they're not considered residents. There is no exception for diplomats - they have to register their cars (although free of import charges). As far as Switzerland is concerned the only exemption is from having to change their driving license to a Swiss one.

I was, of course, referring to the United Kingdom with respect to Visiting Forces. AFAIK the only resident foreign forces in Switzerland are military attachés with diplomatic accreditation. As it happens I once drove a car to Switzerland licensed to a US Forces civilian in Germany. Probably unlawfully; I was acting as executor of his estate, but never mind. I have since learned that when a vehicle owner dies his or her car insurance policy becomes void. And since US Forces plates aren't EU plates, there is no relevant "Motor Insurers' Bureau" that I know of, although perhaps the German bureau accepts liability. (Under EU law, driving in one country with the plates of another EU country makes the Insurers' Bureau of the country the plates are purported to come from -- even if those plates are stolen or forged -- liable to pay claims. (They can thereafter sue you for the loss if you have any assets to sue for.) That's the law, and it lies behind the elimination of the requirement of carrying a green card within Western Europe. But in my experience -- I've had a lot of it -- don't try to claim £100 from his country's Bureau when a Polish driver's car smashes your taillight. Even if you have all his licence and registration and insurance info.)

I was accredited as a diplomat successively in both the UK and in Switzerland decades ago. And in both places drove with "unregistered" vehicles when it suited me. As, in fact, did a deputy chief of mission in London who did not wish to drive a car with a licence plate identifying him continued to drive with the plates he'd had before the new system came into force. (This was about the time that the FCO began issuing licence plates to diplomats in the format 100 D 123, or 100 X 123 for nondiplomatic staff.) There would be a problem today: both in getting a Council parking permit and in avoiding the roving enforcement teams that clamp untaxed vehicles. But that was then. Unlike Switzerland, the UK does not ask foreign diplomats to modify their vehicle in any way. (There would, for some, be a problem of insurance; but my insurance company didn't (and wouldn't even today) care. But they are special.)

Switzerland (and France for that matter, I worked there too) do not require diplomats to have any driving licence other than their home country one. The UK on the other hand issues (or did when I had one) the old-style red booklet from the LVLO, with the operative page marked "DIPLOMATIC" and valid 3 years only. The Swiss cantons and France issue real licences valid forever to foreign diplomats if they ask for it. I don't remember why I didn't licence my right-hand-drive car in Switzerland (I worked at a UN mission) but it may have been that modifications were needed. Nobody cared. I didn't get a Swiss driving licence either; more's the pity as then I would now have 5.

Hire cars are not concerned - you're not the owner of the car, are you? There is no "third jurisdiction license" issue - your license will be valid in whatever country you use it in as long as you're a transient.

The issue on hire cars comes up from time to time, remembering that one has only a rental document and no registration (carte grise) or insurance document. To be distinguished from leased cars. Apparently other than the motorway tax the issue is not raised in Switzerland, or in Europe, or among US states and Canadian provinces, except for common carrier vehicles subject to rules on road tax and fuel duty. But the "third state rule" is something I saw around Usenet and listserv forums for years and years. It sounds plausible but is wrong. Like any urban legend.

So at least these two "exceptions" aren't really "exceptions"

As you like. I not only differ but think my comments might have been interesting to some. "Interesting sidelights". Your delete button is there if you are bored. Anyway by now I've forgotten the original point.

For what it is worth, I still have four (count 'em, four) facially valid driving licences from different countries. I keep them up for old time's sake, even though the Quebec one costs me C$90 a year. And when I reached age 70 I had to take tests in Britain and I was third-time lucky. That gave me the fourth one. (The last time I'd taken a road test was more than 50 years earlier.) Fortunately I have never been stopped by a traffic cop so I've never had to choose which licence to offer except when hiring a car.
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Old 08.05.2012, 19:52
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Re: Time to register a car after buying abroad

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Your delete button is there if you are bored. Anyway by now I've forgotten the original point.
Quite testy for a diplomat, aren't we. Having served under the auspices of the Vienna Convention you should've learned by now that there are alternative points of view. Sidelights are interesting when accurate... and that even a diplomat can be wrong

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. Unlike Switzerland, the UK does not ask foreign diplomats to modify their vehicle in any way. (There would, for some, be a problem of insurance; but my insurance company didn't (and wouldn't even today) care. But they are special.)
No modification required in Switzerland as cars aren't subject to MfK unless relinquishing diplomatic status.

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Hire cars are not concerned - you're not the owner of the car, are you? There is no "third jurisdiction license" issue - your license will be valid in whatever country you use it in as long as you're a transient.

The issue on hire cars comes up from time to time, remembering that one has only a rental document and no registration (carte grise) or insurance document. To be distinguished from leased cars.
I don't know where you drove, but rental cars in Western Europe always come with registration (carte grise), if only because driving around sans carte grise (or at least a copy of it) would technically be illegal... The distinction between rental cars and leased cars: you appear as the owner of the leased car in the registration documents, but the resale is forbidden without leasing company approval.
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Old 03.06.2012, 21:47
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Re: Time to register a car after buying abroad

I'm bringing a motorbike in in a few weeks time, UK registered, not part of my original property when we moved here.
I had panned to keep it on UK plates until October this year or possibly April next year when it might go back and exchange it for another one.
I guess that pan will not work, so I will now have to register it here. I understand I have 12 months exemption to paying the import duty.
Does anyone have experience of exporting fro CH back into Europe in my case the UK. I would do this just before the TAX is due. Is it difficult or straight forward.

Hope someone can help.
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Old 04.06.2012, 16:16
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Re: Time to register a car after buying abroad

I think there are temporary plates for imported cars, but you still have to declare it at the border crossing and do all that stuff I don't know about, I'm sure you'll find information on admin.ch, there's everything you can imagine on that website.
If you drive a foreign plates car, you reside in SWitzerland and special provisions don't apply to you (such as: it's the employer's car, it's an emergency etc.), then you have to declare it.
It's like this in every EU country. In Switzerland you risk getting the car impounded until you pay the tax and a fine (not that steep), but in the province of Varese in Italy it's a disaster, they keep impounded cars for months and have no understanding for errors. They even did a television inquiry on the italian swiss television about this, because lots of people have no idea that this is car smuggling, and in Italy the fines are much steeper and justice/bureaucracy very slow and inefficient.
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Old 04.06.2012, 21:07
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Re: Time to register a car after buying abroad

The other option is that I register the bike in the name of my UK company.

That way if it's not owned by me, then I can use it with a Swiss License.

Is that correct?

Thanks

Stuart
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Old 05.06.2012, 09:28
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Re: Time to register a car after buying abroad

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The other option is that I register the bike in the name of my UK company.

That way if it's not owned by me, then I can use it with a Swiss License.

Is that correct?
No, it is not correct.

Tom
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Old 05.06.2012, 10:46
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Re: Time to register a car after buying abroad

After a little research I found the following information on admin.ch
It's not conclusive, therefore I will look into it in more detail and report my findings.

http://www.ezv.admin.ch/zollinfo_pri...x.html?lang=en

USE OF FOREIGN PRIVATE VEHICLES IN SWITZERLAND

The temporary use of foreign private vehicles by persons resident in Switzerland is prohibited in principle. Concerning customs and road traffic legal notification obligations with regard to the use of foreign vehicles in Switzerland, experience shows that there is often uncertainty and confusion. There is even some false information being circulated in internet forums, for example. It is for this reason that we would like to provide information on the main principles.

People resident in Switzerland
In principle, people who are resident in Switzerland are not allowed to use a foreign vehicle registered abroad in Switzerland. This also applies to vehicles which relatives or acquaintances from abroad allow you to use occasionally, for example.

There are special regulations for instance for vehicles which are occasionally privately hired abroad and for foreign company cars.

Vehicles of immigrants, foreign workers, students and interns
When crossing the border, vehicles on which duty has not been paid must be declared for customs clearance spontaneously and without delay (principle of self-assessment).

Immigrants may import and use their vehicles in Switzerland exempt from duty under certain conditions. Foreign workers, students and interns may use their foreign vehicles on which duty has not been paid in Switzerland. However, a customs permit is needed for this.

Violations
People who have not yet declared their vehicle to customs are requested to report to a customs office to declare their vehicle. Those who do not declare their vehicle for customs clearance will be liable to prosecution. In addition, a claim for payment of the import duties must be anticipated.

Opening hours and addresses of customs offices
Please note the customs office opening hours for the declaration (customs clearance) of merchandise. Declarations can be made from Monday to Friday during clearance hours; some customs offices are also open on Saturday mornings.

The detailed opening hours are available in the list of customs offices.
For merchandise, please note the customs offices or field offices that are marked blue/white or blue.

Foreign customs administrations
We are unable to provide information on foreign regulations. The opening hours and addresses, as well as other information from foreign customs administrations, are available at the following World Customs Organization link: WCO - National customs.

Further information can be found in the right-hand column, including the fact sheets, which provide information on the most common cases.
Additional information can be obtained from the customs offices and District Directorates of Customs. For questions to do with vehicle registration and driving licences, the vehicle licensing offices should be contacted (listed at http://www.asa.ch/).

Association des services des automobiles
Convention du 26 juin 1990 relative à l'admission temporaire, conclue à Istanbul
RS 0.631.24 Annexe C relative aux moyens de transport
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