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DRIVING

Reader question: How can I import a car from the UK to France?

Brexit has made it incredibly difficult to import cars from the UK into France. We take a look at why.

A man waves a Union Jack from the window of a European-made car.
A man waves a Union Jack from the window of a European-made car. Importing vehicles from the UK to France is now practically impossible unless you are a professional trader. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)

I want to import a car from the UK to France but it seems like the process is quite complicated ever since Brexit. What steps do I need to take? 

Importing a car from the UK to France has never been straightforward, but Brexit has certainly made things harder. 

Multiple dedicated car trading websites insist that only third-party professional exporters or people working in customs are capable of doing so successfully. 

We will do our best to explain why.

What is the process? 

The main difficulty is reaching the relevant customs officials to get the necessary authorisation to import a car in the first place. 

On the British side, you will need to declare that you are exporting via National Export System. To do this, you must get an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number – but you can only obtain such a number if you are only moving goods for personal use (i.e. if you are simply bringing a car for yourself).

You will also need access to the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) platform – again this is only possible for traders. If you fail to declare your export officially, border officials may block you from entering France with the vehicle. 

On the French side, you will ultimately need a 846A certificate to be able to drive your imported car legally – or to eventually sell it in France. Obtaining such a certificate is no easy feat. You will need to present the following documents to French customs officials after entering France:

  • A UK car registration certificate;
  • A receipt for the car, if you purchased it in the UK;
  • A certificate of conformity from the original seller attesting whether or not the car was mostly designed or manufactured in Europe (this can reduce the amount of payable customs fees).

To obtain the 846A certificate, you will need also to pay VAT and customs charges unless you meet the following criteria:

  • You have been living outside of the EU for more than one year and are moving to live in France;
  • You own the vehicle and have used it for at least six months;
  • You have listed the vehicle in the inventaire de vos biens (you have an insurance document proving that the vehicle belongs to you);
  • It is a personal vehicle rather than commercial utility one;
  • You have paid the required tax on the vehicle in the UK. 

If you don’t meet the above conditions, then you will have to pay the the tax and charges. 

You will generally have to pay 10 percent of the value of the car as a customs charge, although this can vary. You will also need to pay a flat 20 percent VAT charge on the imported vehicle. In other words, unless you can get an exemption, it is very expensive to import a vehicle from the UK into France. 

Our advice?

Don’t import a car from the UK to France. Not only is it expensive, but unless you are running an import/export business, it is also pretty much impossible. 

You are best off selling your vehicle in the UK and using public transport in France – or using the funds from the sale to buy a car on this side of the channel. 

Member comments

  1. These two paragraphs, when read together, don’t make sense (see the “again” in para 2). Do you mean that an EORI number is for traders? Or is CHIEF for private individuals? Which is it? The reader will assume that both systems should cater for the same group of people.
    The Local is a very useful source of information but too often the proofreading/subediting – call it what you will – is very poor, to the point of confusing the reader. It is getting very annoying and you risk misleading readers. If you don’t have a dedicated sub-editor, then please ask your journalists to proofread their articles properly.
    “On the British side, you will need to declare that you are exporting via National Export System. To do this, you must get an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number – but you can only obtain such a number if you are only moving goods for personal use (i.e. if you are simply bringing a car for yourself).
    You will also need access to the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) platform – again this is only possible for traders.”

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DRIVING

COMPARE: Which countries in Europe have the strictest drink-drive limits?

Certain countries around Europe have stricter policies than others regarding drinking and driving and harsher punishjments for those caught exceeding legal limits. Here's what you need to know.

COMPARE: Which countries in Europe have the strictest drink-drive limits?

European countries set their own driving laws and speed limits and it’s no different when it comes to legal drink-drive limits.

While the safest thing to do of course, is to drink no alcohol at all before driving it is useful to know what the limit is in the country you are driving in whether as a tourist or as someone who frequently crosses European borders by car for work.

While some countries, such as the Czech Republic, have zero tolerance for drinking and driving, in others people are allowed to have a certain amount of alcohol in their blood while driving.

However, not only can the rules be different between countries, they are usually stricter for commercial (or bus) drivers and novice drivers as well. Besides that, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is extremely difficult to estimate, so the old “one beer is ok” standards no longer safely apply.

In the end, the only way to be safe is to avoid consuming alcohol before driving. Any amount will slow reflexes while giving you dangerous higher confidence. According to the UK’s National Health Service, there is no ‘safe’ drinking level.

How is blood alcohol level measured?

European countries mostly measure blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is the amount, in grams, of alcohol in one litre of blood.

After alcohol is consumed, it will be absorbed fast from the stomach and intestine to the bloodstream. There, it is broken down by a liver-produced enzyme.

Each person will absorb alcohol at their own speed, and the enzyme will also work differently in each one.

The BAC will depend on these metabolic particularities as well as body weight, gender, how fast and how much the person drank, their age and whether or not (and how much) they have eaten, and even stress levels at the time.

In other words there are many things that may influence the alcohol concentration.

The only way to effectively measure BAC is by taking a blood test – even a breathalyser test could show different results. Still, this is the measuring unit used by many EU countries when deciding on drinking limits and penalties for drivers.

Here are the latest rules and limits.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Driving is a great way to enjoy scenic European roads. Pictured is a highway in Norway (Photo by Shai Pal on Unsplash)

Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Greece, Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, and Croatia

In most EU countries, the limit is just under 0.5g/l for standard drivers (stricter rules could be in place for novice or professional drivers).

This could be exceeded by a man with average weight who consumed one pint of beer (containing 4.2% alcohol) and two glasses of red wine (13% alcohol) while having dinner.

If a person is caught driving with more than 0.8g/l of blood alcohol content in Austria, they can pay fines of up to € 5,900 and to have their license taken for one year in some cases.

In France, if BAC exceeds 0.8g/l, they could end up with a 2-year jail sentence and a € 4,500 fine. In Germany, penalties start at a € 500 fine and a one-month license suspension. In Greece, drunk drivers could face up to years of imprisonment.

In Denmark, first time offenders are likely to have their licences suspended and could be required to go on self-paid alcohol and traffic courses if BAC levels are low. Italy has penalties that vary depending on whether or not the driver has caused an accident and could lead to car apprehension, fines and prison sentences.

In Spain, going over a 1.2g/l limit is a criminal offence that could lead to imprisonment sentences and hefty fines. 

Norway, Sweden, and Poland

In Norway, Sweden, and Poland, the limit for standard drivers is 0.2g/l. It could take a woman with average weight one standard drink, or one can of beer, to reach that level.

Penalties in Norway can start at a one month salary fine and a criminal record. In Poland, fines are expected if you surpass the limit, and you could also have your license revoked and receive a prison sentence.

Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia

The Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia have one of the strictest rules in the European Union. There is no allowed limit of alcohol in the blood for drivers.

In the Czech Republic, fines start at € 100 to € 800, and a driving ban of up to one year can be instituted for those driving with a 0.3 BAC level. However, the harshest penalties come if the BAC level surpasses 1 g/l, fines can be up to € 2,000, and drivers could be banned from driving for 10 years and imprisoned for up to three years.

This is intended to be a general guide and reference. Check the current and specific rules in the country you plan to travel to. The easiest and best way to be safe and protect yourself and others is to refrain from drinking alcohol and driving.

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