Morris Fraser took on the Belgian system to import his car in Belgium, and has provided a brief guide to the tricky topic.
You must formally import your vehicle within six months of becoming a Belgian resident. I didn’t bother, and got myself in considerable trouble with the authorities.
The import process is complex but not impossible. However, a number of agencies are involved, and while individuals were invariably helpful where their own department was concerned, nobody seemed to have a grasp of the complete process and to be able to advise helpfully overall. So here’s a short guide on what to expect when you import your car to Belgium.
Importing your car to Belgium
Your first port of call is the local Douane. There are large offices in the cities and smaller depots in the various ports. I recommend the latter, as the officer in charge generally has not got much else to do! You need to bring three documents, namely:
1. Your original car registration document.
2. An Aanvraag aan Verzekering. This is a document showing that you have applied for car insurance. The best place to go for this is your bank; they tend to be very helpful, as of course they want the business, and will help you to fill the form in. This document also provides insurance cover for 28 days.
3. A Bewijs van Inschriving. This is proof that you have registered as a Belgian resident. The document is easily obtained; it will be given on request at your local town hall. Incidentally, an identity card will not do.
On production of these you are now, after much official stamping, issued with an all-important ‘pink form’. If your car is for personal use, you do not have to pay any import charge (though there will, of course, be a tax bill later).
You will now need two further documents.
- A Certificate of Conformity. You get this from the nearest dealer for your make of vehicle; it confirms that your vehicle is ‘regular’ and conforms to EC standards. Again, the procedure is routine, but I found this the most troublesome step; there were long delays, loss of documents (twice), and a charge of €120. But you need this certificate before you can get the final document.
- A keuringsbewijs. This is your car’s certificate of roadworthiness. You have to go to a local keuring centre; your garage can direct you, but garages can’t do the test. You can’t make an appointment for the test, and sometimes you have to wait in a long line, so it’s advisable to set half a day aside for this.
When you have passed the test, the keuring centre will stamp your pink form. You then send off the form and your original registration document to the address on the form. A few days later your new registration document and a number-plate (only one) will drop on your doormat. This ‘official’ plate has to go on the rear of your car; your garage will make a duplicate for the front. Finalise your insurance, and that’s it!
A final warning: if you don’t import your car within the statutory six months, you risk the potentially serious charges of evading road tax and of driving while uninsured (you have to have Belgian car insurance). I had been continuing to pay road tax in my country of origin, and fortunately I had the receipts, so I was only fined €50, but it could have been much worse.