Bubble and Chic: Importing a car into Belgium
Learn the best way to import your car into Belgium, including all the necessary paperwork and fees.
As a follow on from my last post regarding personal registration, I really feel the need to share my experience in registering a foreign car in Belgium. Now this is not a post for the faint hearted and definitely not one to bother with if you don't have to go through this.
In theory it's not such a difficult task but combining Belgian paperwork with Italian paperwork in my case, I am ready for claiming it to be one of life's highest achievements..
So my position was quite particular in that I was a foreigner in the country in which I bought my car and I was insured as a foreigner on the condition that I was in fact resident. Now, moving to Brussels with such a long procedure in registering myself and obtaining my registration card I was stranded in no-mans' land and in a country where car accidents are more frequent that number 36 buses it wasn't worth taking the risk and I just had to park up my wheels for a while..
Importing a car is a long and gruelling road..
So, here goes. I've done this post as I found it hard to get the full rundown of how to do this and had I had this information myself it would have made my life a lot easier. Far from Bubble or Chic, I hope that by putting all this down, I may save someone a lot of time and effort.
Before you start, make sure you have a proof of residency (even if your proper resident card hasn't arrived, the piece of paper stating that you have have been enlisted is okay) and the certificate of conformity. I wasn't supplied this with my car and had to ask the manufacturer to supply it to me. In the case of Citroen Italy, this took a month (and EUR 125.00).
Step 1– go to the Customs (Douanes) 11 Rue de l'Entrepôt, 1020 Bruxelles (Bureau 0.3) with your logbook (libretto in my case). She'll stamp it and give you a pink piece of paper. (total time if you take the right stuff with you– 5 mins). UK citizens may have other procedures to carry out, best to look on the UK gov website to make sure..
Step 2– go to the Controle Technique with your certification of conformity to get that stamped. (total time– 5 mins, just that it's across the other part of town).
Step 3 - go to your bank or car insurer and they'll issue the car insurance. Only bother doing this if you are already resident or at least have the piece of paper saying that you have been added to the list of residents. The piece of paper stating 'Demande d'inscription' which will have been accepted by everyone up to this point will not be enough to get a number plate so save yourself some hassle and don't attempt this until you have the right piece of paper.
Step 4– go to the Bureau d'Immatriculation - early, very early. Otherwise you end up sitting waiting for over an hour or even two which is far from fun. My experience in this office was not what could be called pleasant - in complete contrast to everyone I had to deal with in Belgian bureaucracy up unto this point. In fact, following a ‘scene' concerning my residency certificate, I was asked by the supervisor to leave the building - perhaps it was the Latin influence. Fingers crossed you have a better experience. Anyway, give them your logbook, insurance papers, certificate of conformity, copy of your residency, pay some money and in the next day or so you'll have a shiny new number plate on your doorstep (paying EUR 25 in cash to the person who delivers it).
Step 5– Get yourself a copy of your number plate and fit it. You're good to go. And it would be a good plan to make one of your first stops the 'control technique'. If you're stopped without the Control Technique, you can be fined heavily. Again, it pays to get there early.
Unlike other countries where you have to pay the road tax immediately, I found that it took a good two months for my invoice to come through. So that's the easy part.. The next bit– depending on which country you arrived from– could be more or less tricky.
1) Certificate of Accidents (certificato di sinistralita') - states how many accidents you've had in the past few years. You'll need this for your new insurer and it can only be issued by the last insurer with whom you completed a full year's insurance. So, as was my case, it may not be from the people that you told your new Belgian isurers you were registered with. And if you're late in getting this, then you risk that your Belgian insurer will cancel the insurance and you'll be off the road again. This is only accepted in French, Dutch or German and your insurance company will only issue it in the language of your country so you may need to get this certified translated ( I managed for EUR 40).
2) Old insurance– this will need to be suspended and can be cancelled once you have the certificate of property (certificato di proprieta) from your country saying that the car has been exported. To get this (at least in the case of Italy) you'll need to take the number plates to the consulate along with the original of the certificate of property. They'll send it off to the relevant office and the certificate modified to say that the car has been exported will be sent back to you. This took me 4.5 months as someone seemed to have forgotten to send it me back. Then you can send a copy of that to your issuers to ask them to refund any insurance which was paid for but not used. In my case they wanted to reaccredit the credit card used at the time of taking out the policy just that this has been cancelled as my bank accounts were closed in Italy months ago. If this happens you'll need to contact your old bank and work out a way to get it. The insurers will do nothing.
So, what may appear easy, can get rather frustrating– but perhaps that's just because I had a tricky situation moving as one foreigner to another country. Just one point to make though, it may be an annoying process but its not costly. Someone I spoke to recently was told that it would cost 3000– 4000 euro. This is not the case and you're looking at EUR 70 for the registration, EUR 25 for receiving the registration plate– although if you could quantify the time wasted (for the Italian side I hasten to admit), frustration, tears shed and general annoyance, perhaps you wouldn't be far off.
Having lived in five different countries, Faye Cardwell enjoys sharing her travel adventures and experiences of life as an expat on her hobby blog Bubble and Chic. She has been working in the world of wine for almost 10 years, and travels the globe organising trade fairs, events and promotions for consortiums and regional promotional bodies.
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