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Old 28.08.2012, 16:13
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Shipping and registering my car in BL - my first hand experience

My personal experience importing and registering a car from the USA to BaselLandschaft. This was also declared as part of my household goods, so I did not have to pay import duty.

Vehicle details: 2003 BMW 5 series with Xenon HL, autoleveling sensor, HL washer, 18" wheels and Kuhmo 245-40-ZR18 97W spec tires, DINAN strut bar.

Things needed prior to shipping of the car:
1. replace yellow reflector HL lens with clear reflectors (piece of cake, done by myself)
2. Warning Triangle: purchased from Ebay for USD 15, fits like glove in the trunk where all the tools belong (If you own a BMW, you know there is a compartment in the trunk that you can store a few tools)
3. First Aid kit: USD 20 (this is optional in Switzerland, but is required in Germany)
4. Make sure there is no excess oil/fluid residue inside the engine compartment, the MFP people do look for leaks (big or small). I maintained my own car way above and beyond, not a drop of oil/liquid can be found, the inspector was very surprised for a 9 year-old car.
5. If shipped with household goods, ensure that you detailed it in the 18.44 form. You will need this origianl form back from the shpping company.
6. Take off the license plates before you hand the car to the shipper, take the plates with you in your luggage (not in the shipment of the household goods).

Things to bring with you on your final move:
1. First registration document, i.e. the vehicle identification card from the first time the car was registered (this is easy if you keep all your records and are the original owner. If you bought the vehicle used, please don't ask me how to get the first registration document, because I would not know. Sorry)
2. Vehicle owner's manual (put sticky on the pages that show the specifications of your car, e.g. weight, dimension, engine size, etc. The MFP will be more than happy to serve you if they felt that you have done your homework).
3. License plates

Shipping of Vehicle (pickup from my house in Illinois and delivered to my house in Baselland):
Any freight forwarder you want (whatever flows your boat). Cost varies. The shipper will tell you what you need to provide them (in general, the vehicle title and you need to general a EIN from the US federal government in order for you to export your vehicle. If you have to ship your household goods, you probably would have done that step already).

Delivery of Vehicle:
Depends on how you arranged for your shipment, you either paid to have the car deliver to your residence in Switzerland or you pick it up at the port. I chose to have the shipper deliver to my house. Make sure you get the 13.20A from the shipper. It has the Stem number that you will need in order to obtain insurance and to register.

Insurance:
This is the sucky part, there are not too many insurance companies will insure vehicles with foreign plates. Also things to consider is that when you try to register the vehicle in Baselland, the regulation requires you to have insurance from a Swiss company, i.e. not company from the UK, or elsewhere. For this, I ended up with the big "Z", not the internet establishment, but the actual retail establishment and meet with the real insurance agent. Again, you don't have a choice.

Registration (at the MFK for BL): (Note: you have one year from the date of importation to drive your vehicle on foreign plates, but it stands out and gets plenty of stares. I chose to do it within a month or so, but the choice is yours)
Bring -
1. Original 13.20A form that has the zoll stamp and stem number
2. Original 18.44 form
3. Proof of insurance (the insurance company can send that electronically to the MFK ahead of time)
4. Obtain an appointment date for the MFP inpection

Prior to the MFP inspection:
1. Get the Abgas document from your car brand's dealership. I paid CHF 125 for a BMW dealer here in Basel to prepare the AbgasDoc. The Abgas dokument is a requirement and you cannot avoid.
2. Wash the car. It is easier for them to inspect with a clean car than a car covered with mud and dirt.

MFP inspection date:
1. Bring along your appoint sheet from the MFK
2. Bring the vehicle owner's manual, first registration document, 13.20A, and 18.44.
3. Show up 10 mintures before my appointment time. Your appointment will also tell you which lane you are supposed to line up.
4. Paid the CHF 240 fee and then patiently wait for your turn.
5. Cooperate with the technician. (for me, the tech was very polite and courteous)

They do check the car thoroughly, above and below, engine compartment, suspension, steering, wheels, brakes, etc. The whole process took about 30 minutes and another 30 minutes for him to write up everything. At the end, my car passed with flying colors, and I was handed the documents back and was told to go to the MFK to obtain the Swiss plates.

That was all. Not much drama. To be honest, I was worry about the 18" wheels and the strut bar, but the tech didn't seem to be picking on them.

That said. I was considering paying some company to register for me, but at the end, I could not find a company that would care to respond or would not charge you an arm and a leg. I called the MFK and emailed the MFP several times to get some clarity on the process. In general, they are happy to help. So, why not do it myself and save some really money!
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