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Old 23.01.2009, 14:47
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Keeping car on UK plates after importing it

Hi

This is my first time posting on the forum, and I'm really hoping someone has experience or advice that can help me.

I have recently moved over to Switzerland, and we have imported our UK car (we only did it this week), I haven't yet declared it exported from the UK.

My UK tax disc and insurance will run out at the end of Jan, so I was hoping to register it in the next week in Switzerland, but am reading the other threads about the tests it needs to pass, and am worried it won't pass as it's a 2001 model, and will need some money spent on it before it can pass.

So... I thought maybe i could pay my UK tax disc so that it's still valid and stay on UK plates for a few months more until I can afford to go for the test, or take it back to the UK and sell it if the cost won't be worth it.
But now I am worried that because I've imported it officially I may not be allowed to.

So my questions are:
1) Can i keep it on UK plates after importing it?
2) Will I be able to get a UK insurance, or will it have to be Swiss?
3) Will I get swiss insurance on a UK registered car?

I'm really stuck and panicking a little as I'm running out of time (also speak only basic German so am reluctant to try and phone a garage to try and work out the costs for the test).

Any help / advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

julz
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Old 23.01.2009, 14:53
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Re: Keeping car on UK plates after importing it

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With valid registration, you can drive for up to two years from your moving date into Switzerland on foreign plates. Local insurance can be obtained once you have the car import document number.
I was told it was only 1 year. I am actually in the same predicament as the OP except that my grace period ends in the next couple of months.
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Old 23.01.2009, 15:05
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Re: Keeping car on UK plates after importing it

> 1) Can i keep it on UK plates after importing it?

I was told one year after importing it by the MFKs in ZG and BL.
I was also told one year after getting permit (which was before
I imported the car) by MFK in ZG so erred on the side of caution
and went for one year after permit and then put Swiss plates
on.

> 2) Will I be able to get a UK insurance, or will it have to be Swiss?
> 3) Will I get swiss insurance on a UK registered car?

I could not find a Swiss company that would insure a UK car with
UK plates. The thing to watch out for with UK insurance companies
is the maximum time you are allowed to keep the car out of the
country. We ended up using http://www.stuartcollins.com/
who can provide annual green cards for UK cars. The underlying
policy was with AXA and when I eventually put Swiss plates
on, the policy was transferred to AXA in Switzerland.
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Old 23.01.2009, 15:36
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Re: Keeping car on UK plates after importing it

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The problem is how long your registration is valid. We had a export plates with 2 years registration. The law is that you can drive for two years from your first entry into Switzerland without paying car import taxes. We heard about the scheme through the Living and Working in Switzerland book by David Hampshire.

Once you need to register the car locally, you need to show proof that you have paid the import taxes.
I thought there is a possibility somewhere that if you have owned the car for longer than 6 months in the UK you can import it as part of your personal efects. Therefore no duty to pay! Was I dreaming that up?

bill
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Old 23.01.2009, 15:43
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Re: Keeping car on UK plates after importing it

Thanks, it's slowly becoming a little clearer, although the insurance looks like it's going to be a bugger to work out as my UK insurers won't insure it and now it looks like Swiss ones won't either! I'll try AXA, thanks very much.

And yes, you can import a car duty free with the rest of your household belongings if you've owned it for longer than 6 months, we just did!

Thanks everyone, much appreciated. First experience with English Forum has been very positive
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Old 23.01.2009, 15:49
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Re: Keeping car on UK plates after importing it

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The problem is how long your registration is valid. We had a export plates with 2 years registration. The law is that you can drive for two years from your first entry into Switzerland without paying car import taxes. We heard about the scheme through the Living and Working in Switzerland book by David Hampshire.

Once you need to register the car locally, you need to show proof that you have paid the import taxes.
Are you sure about this?

The general consensus from all of the other threads (and there are a few) and my experience in having an Irish registered car here for a while (too long!) was that you have one year to import and make the car legal in Switzerland. When I asked the strassenverkehasamt if there was any way of making it longer they in not so many words told me that I would have to leave the country for three months (deregister) and then re-enter to get another year.

As for the importing it as part of your personal belongings if you own it for more then 6 months that is also true.

I heard there was one exception and that was people on a short term contract could get a special dispensation and keep a foreign registered car here for 18 months but that was the limit. I kept my head down and had an Irish car here for considerably longer then that, but in the end brought it home to sell it.
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Old 23.01.2009, 15:51
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Re: Keeping car on UK plates after importing it

From my experience, taking a Belgium registered car to Spain and more recently a Spanish registered car Switzerland. You can ONLY insure a vehicle in the country that it is registered in. Once (in 2 years time) you re-register the car here, you will have to buy more expensive, Swiss car insurance. Many insurance firms in the UK now give you total EU and Swiss, cover.
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Old 23.01.2009, 16:48
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Re: Keeping car on UK plates after importing it

My experience (Kanton Zürich) was that you could keep the car on non-Swiss number plates for a maximum of one year. I double checked this and also had it confirmed by the police after I got a speeding ticket. I dorve past a speed camera too quick and quick enough for the police to be interested. They paid me a visit one evening around 9pm and explained the reason was that they knew when we entered the country and that this was more than one year previously and they wanted to know why we had not transferred the car to Swiss plates (i.e. imported it). I had to pay a CHF 400 fine for not doing this within 12 months of arrival.
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Old 23.01.2009, 17:21
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Re: Keeping car on UK plates after importing it

There is useful information (in English) on the following site
http://en.comparis.ch/immigration/car/default.aspx
and
http://en.comparis.ch/immigration/car/important.aspx#01

Basically: You can keep foreign plates for 1 year.
You can import a vehicle duty-free as long as you owned it for at least 6 months before you came to Switzerland and you may not sell it for a year after importing it.
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Old 23.01.2009, 17:29
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Re: Keeping car on UK plates after importing it

I looked into keeping my car here and heard that Zurich insure foreign cars. I ended up just buying a car here in the end, but it might be worth checking with Zurich. Their helpline is in English too if you don't speak any Swiss languages.
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Old 23.01.2009, 17:33
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Re: Keeping car on UK plates after importing it

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We moved here, decided we wanted a car. Went to the Geneva motor show and and asked about the 2 year tax free deal that we read about.

The website below talks about the export plates (Z-plates) we got from the dealer abroad: ://www.switzerland.isyours.com/e/immigration/relocation/vehicles/importing.html

We drove for 2 years then paid the taxes and local registration.
Z-plates are something different, they are issued purely for export of a car. If you own the car and have it registered already in a country you can't get z-plates issued. This is only for buying a car with the express intention of exporting it. It has nothing to do with keeping a car on UK plates.
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Old 23.01.2009, 17:39
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Re: Keeping car on UK plates after importing it

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Z-plates are something different, they are issued purely for export of a car. If you own the car and have it registered already in a country you can't get z-plates issued. This is only for buying a car with the express intention of exporting it. It has nothing to do with keeping a car on UK plates.
Maybe things have changed since 1982 but I had Z plates for a year (in Basel) for a car bought in France where I'd lived previously. I drove on the French plates for 1 year then had to "convert" to Z plates for another year before I finally imported the car and got normal Swiss plates (in Neuchatel by then).
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Old 23.01.2009, 17:44
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Re: Keeping car on UK plates after importing it

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Can't you switch to these if you are a temporary resident with a domicile outside of Switzerland?
Possibly. The idea is to avoid registering the car in the country if you intend to leave the country again. Since you will have to import it into the country that you were going to leave to anyway, I presume you could just "import" it into Switzerland if you wanted and pay the duty that you never paid in the first place. Not sure of the ins and outs if you were to do that.

You case is the first I have heard of putting a car on z-plates to import into Switzerland. I've heard of people buying cars here registering them on z-plates and taking them back to the UK or Ireland.
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Old 24.01.2009, 12:26
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Re: Keeping car on UK plates after importing it

Technically you've not "imported" your car yet. You've just drove it across the border. You may want to declare it though so that you can get a parking permit for the blue zones where you live.

My understanding was that if you have moved here permanently (i.e. getting a B permit at least), then it's one year. If you've moved here temporary (i.e. having an L permit), I'm not sure. Maybe it's a different situation. I know the Z plates are for when you buy a car here, but don't pay 7.6% VAT so that you can the abroad in preparation for registration in that country. I've seen similar systems in other countries too like in Germany where the export plates are written with red letters (instead of the usual black) or Finland where on the right there's a date in red.

If you do intend to import the car into Switzerland on a permanent basis (i.e. register it on regular Swiss plates. You should check with the Strassenverkersamt (like a "local DVLA") as said previously. They will tell you the process. You need to find out from them or someone how insurance is going to work in terms of the transition process.

Anyway during the process of registration, the Strassenverkersamt will kindly send your V5 logbook back to the DVLA in Swansea and you'll receive the Swiss equivalent, the fahrzeugausweis (all for a cost of course). They'll probably also request you to visit the local Motorfahrzeugkontrolle/MFK (Swiss MOT) and as it's a right-hand drive car, you'll need to have the lights re-configured for driving on the right. This means having the front ones re-dipped (which in some cars requires new light clusters) and if like a Ford Focus, only has one reverse light and one fog light, then they'll need to be switched around. I believe the reverse light has to be closer to the pavement (inside). MPH speedos are okay as long as there's km/h on there too (which I've never seen a UK car not having).

Last edited by digg; 24.01.2009 at 12:48.
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Old 24.01.2009, 14:00
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Re: Keeping car on UK plates after importing it

I have gone through the pain of this process, and have now become an "instant expert"! What I have learnt is the following;1) If you move here you can keep your car on UK plates for up to 1year (same as your driving license...another story)2) If you use it here it needs to stay UK legal; MOT'd, Taxed3) To get it regd. here you will need to have it imported as part of your possessions. Needs to be on your 18.44 form and you will get a 1320A issued by customs. If you can prove you owned it (in your name) for more than 6 months prior to your move to the country you can bring your car in tax free. 4) You have to get your paperwork checked before they will accept your car for testing; they expect to see, import docs, emissions test certificate, car registration documents and EU type approvel certificate, plus insurance certificate from a Swiss based insurance company.5)If all this is acceptable they will accept your car for testing. Lights must be modified as noted earlier in this thread, but that should be all for most modern cars.The wait for a test (at least here in Vaud) is something like 12 weeks.6) If your car passes, they keep you UK registration docs, and UK plates, issue Swiss ones and then send you a bill for the Swiss version of car Tax. Rates vary from Canton to Canton and driven by weight an emissions. Tends to be more than in UK for any given car.Good luck hope this helps.
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Old 24.01.2009, 14:43
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Re: Keeping car on UK plates after importing it

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If your car passes, they keep you UK registration docs, and UK plates
Strange how they keep the plates. I guess with the thinking that in the UK, the plates are issued like the Swiss ones.... i.e. not a £15 from some website.

My car was imported from France by its former owner and I have the French plates in the boot. I know the garage did all the import work though and have seen some old paper work showing that the car once had Swiss "U" plates (dealer plates I think) from Basel-Stadt even though the car later was registered in Basel-Land.
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Old 24.01.2009, 16:27
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Re: Keeping car on UK plates after importing it

When a British registered vehicle leaves the UK it must return within 12 months. All British registered vehicles that are outside of the UK for more than 12 months are considered permanently exported and their registration marks are automatically pulled back into the DVLA pool. If it's a cherished number you lose it.
http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring...cle/DG_4022582
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Old 24.01.2009, 19:12
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Re: Keeping car on UK plates after importing it

I am also looking into this at the moment. My advice is to at least consider the following: UK cars are up to 50% cheaper than swiss cars at the moment, especially if they are bigger engined or 4x4 gas guzzlers. I am looking at buying a UK registered car which is Left Hand Drive. My intention is to then drive it over and import it paying all the duties and taxes. It would still work out cheaper than buying the same car in CH.

When it comes time to sell the car in CH, you should not have too much trouble as the car is a LHD. Just make sure that if you do import a LHD vehicle from the UK, it is factory standard. Meaning, no fancy alloys, bull bars, exhausts, engine mods etc. It's far easier to import a factory standard car as it will then pass the Swiss test. Any non-standard parts fitted will have to be removed and replaced with OE. (Obviously, you will need a LHD set of headlights)

I have attached a pdf file which is the A to Z of importing and costs into CH. I hope you find it useful and good luck.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf importing vehicles full version.pdf (104.3 KB, 1235 views)
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Old 24.01.2009, 21:12
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Re: Keeping car on UK plates after importing it

Hi there,

Try www.nvc.ch based in Basel, they can get you a quote for a insurance for a UK plate car. I think it's with Zurich insurance.

However, I would be interested to hear if anyone had to face the expiry of the MoT certificate din the course of the 1 year where you are entitled to run you motor in CH with UK plates.

Furthermore has anyone tried to part-ex their UK car here in CH to buy a new or second hand car. This will save me driving it all the way back to UK.

Many thanks

El Tarico
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Old 24.01.2009, 22:00
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Re: Keeping car on UK plates after importing it

The international agreed law that permits visiting vehicles to drive in foreign countries (outside of the EU) requires that the vehicle maintains a road legal status in it's country of registration for the duration of it's stay in the foreign country.

Whenever I ship one of my British registered vehicles to the USA I get it MoT'd and retaxed a few days before it is loaded on to the ship. I surrender my UK insurance policy to my British insurer and they give me a partial refund. Marine freight insurance starts at the dockyard and a foreign visiting vehicle policy starts when it arrives in the USA.

Technically, surrendering my UK insurance means that the vehicle is no longer road legal in the UK. However, British insurers insist that only one insurance policy can be on a vehice at a time and the Customs & Border Patrol in the US only usually check that I have a valid UK tax disc displayed and that my US insurance is valid. My US insurer requires the MoT to be valid as in the event of an accident, a document check is guaranteed.

How does this apply to Switzerland? Well, if your MoT, road tax, or insurance expire on your British registered vehicle it is no longer road legal here. If your road tax expires but your MoT and Insurance are still in force, you can contact DVLA for one. If your, MoT runs out, you either have to reregister the car in Switzerland or transport it back to the UK by truck to get it retested.
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