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Author Topic: Variation on importing US RV to the UK  (Read 8843 times)

Ladybiker

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Variation on importing US RV to the UK
« on: February 17, 2012, 01:27:30 PM »
Hello all.  We've been reading all the posts about importing an RV into the UK but none seem to answer our particular questions.  We are US citizens and we want to ship an RV to Europe to keep there for perhaps 5 years while we use it as a "vacation" home.  When we're done we're thinking we'd like to sell it in the UK rather than ship it back.  This would likely be a rig that's over 10 years old when we sell, perhaps a year 2006 or older vehicle.  It would be no more than 25 ft long and 7.5 ft wide, a small rig similar to the Winnebago View or the older Vista.  We'll have had it in the EU for several years.  We would have done all the "convenience" conversions; propane, electrical, water and sewer before shipping

1. Is it even possible for us to sell it?
2. If we sold it in the UK would we or the buyer need to pay the VAT (17.5%) and customs duty (10%) even though it's already there and it's effectively a used vehicle?
3. Would these be paid on the selling price or the value the rig had when we originally shipped it?
4. We're reading that there is some sort of new test that may or may not be required as of April 2012.  If this is true would it apply to older vehicles and what does it entail?
5. From what we've researched it seems that a US rigs typically sell at anywhere between 107% to 125% of their US value as expressed in pounds.  In other words a $20,000 unit may sell at 20,000 GBP*1.25 = 25,000 GBP.  Correct?

We understand the primary safety conversion that must be done involves the lights, in particular the rear lights.  Some of the terms used in the forums are different from ours so we wanted to make sure we understand the conversion requirements.

For the headlights we could either attempt to pivot them to the proper alignment or attach plastic lenses that redirect the beam.  No changes on the turn signal are required.

For the rear:
The reverse lights, colored white in the US, need no changes at all.
The brake lights, turn signal, and the nighttime taillights must all be physically separate lenses, bulbs etc., not just a change from dim to bright.  The red color is still correct.
You have some sort of extra "fog" light?  What color?  Where is it mounted?  Does it turn on at the same time as the headlights and running lights?

Running lights. 
In the US we have 4 to 5 along the top front and back edges.  Is this sufficient?  Sometimes we have ones on the top corners of each side but that's not always the case.  Are these required?  Typically these are red, is this correct in the UK?  These running lights turn on only when the headlights are turned on and are not turned on separately.  Do these need an individual switch?

Tom

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Re: Variation on importing US RV to the UK
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2012, 08:08:54 PM »
To answer your duty- VAT-related questions, I'd suggest a look at the HM Revenue and Customs web site. They also offer the ability to contact them online. It might be worthwhile explaining what you're planning to do, and getting an answer from the horse's mouth. Some folks here have had success contacting them for information.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2012, 08:11:19 PM by Tom »
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Ladybiker

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Re: Variation on importing US RV to the UK
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2012, 03:40:13 PM »
Thanks Tom.  I've sent them an email and we'll see if they get back.  Although based on what I read in their web site I think we'd have to pay at least the VAT.

BTW: Do you have answers about the light conversions?  I'm not entirely clear on exactly what has to be done.

Tom

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Re: Variation on importing US RV to the UK
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2012, 04:06:59 PM »
I've never done the light conversion, but it's been mentioned in a few discussions here on this Visitors to the USA message board, and also in a few articles in our library section of the same name (click the Library button above); The posts and articles were written by Brits planning to ship their RVs from the USA to the UK. You've already mentioned some of the issues.

Here's a web site that talks about UK automotive legislation, including details on lighting.

We have a retired UK police officer here on the forum, and hopefully we can get him to shed some light (no pun) on this subject.
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Dougie Brown

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Re: Variation on importing US RV to the UK
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2012, 09:49:33 PM »
You're asking lots of different questions on several different areas (taxation, Construction & Use Regulations etc).  so I'll try to help with what I know.  For your reference, I'm a Brit and I've owned a US A-class RV in the UK since 2006 and also bought a similar one in the US a year ago.  We're currently in the US enjoying lots of time over here.  I'm also a retired UK Police officer with a particular interest in traffic matters.  All that however doesn't make me a good person. ;-)

If you've owned your RV for more than a year, there is no import duty (10%) or VAT (now 20%) importing it into the UK.  You'll have to prove the ownership point of course.  RVs are currently exempt from the SVA (Single Vehicle Application) test although I understand that MIGHT be changing either this year or next.  However, all vehicles over 10 years old are also exempt.  You will "only" therefore need to make certain conversions to lights in order to comply with the Department of Transport annual inspection (known as the "MoT" test, from the now-defunct Ministry of Transport).  You will need amber flashers front & rear, red fog light(s) at the rear, and headlights which angle to the left (for left-side driving) or which are straight-angled.  You can easily comply with this by means of strategically-placed pieces of black insulating tape stuck onto the headlight lenses, to deflect the beam angle.

The MoT test is necessary before applying to register it in the UK if that's what you decide to do.  You can legally use it in the UK for 6 months in any 12, but if you knowingly ship it over with the intention of keeping it there for more than 6 months, you need to register it straight away.  You will need the title in order to to that, and the pre-registration MoT is done on the vehicle's VIN (so no worries about not having a licence tag).  Insurance must be obtained before you set one tire on a UK road, and this again can be done on the VIN.  The current registration fee is 65.

If you subsequently sell the motorhome in the UK, VAT plays no part in the transaction if you're a private (non-VAT registered) person.  VAT is only charged by individuals or businesses which are VAT-registered, e.g. having a TURNOVER of more than $60,000.  It simply will not apply to you.  If as I've said, you can show you've owned the vehicle for more than a year when importing it, you can forget customs duty forever.

As far as the UK market is concerned, the UK along with much of Europe is effectively bust.  Leisure markets such as motorhomes, are on the floor, and there is no predictable formula you can use to anticipate what you might get selling your vehicle.  I can tell you that we pay around 2.6 times what you pay in the US for gas & diesel, so go figure.  (And salaries/wages are definitely NOT 2.6 times their US equivalent - that's why we're selling our UK Rexhall - the running costs are unthinkable.  $9.35/gal for gas today...)

Just on the point of rear lights, the brakes lights are red.  Turn signals (indicators or "blinkers) are yellow.  Fog lights (or just one on the right side) are red, with a different lens type to brake lights so the beam is spread).  You can buy them for $10, although you'll need wiring from the cab on a switch which is combined with dip-headlight (so the rear foglight goes off when you switch to main beam).

Reversing light is the same and does not form part of the MoT test.  Running lights also do not form part of the test.

Hope this helps.

Dougie.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2012, 09:55:49 PM by Dougie Brown »
2000 Winnebago Adventurer 37G (F53 chassis, Ford 6.8 V10 gas)
1999 Ford Escort SE (2.0L 4cyl gas)
Brits spending half each year in the US and/or Canada
www.rv-and.us

Tom

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Re: Variation on importing US RV to the UK
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2012, 10:32:25 PM »
Dougie,

A big THANKS for jumping into this discussion with that very complete and informative response. It's much appreciated.
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Dougie Brown

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Re: Variation on importing US RV to the UK
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2012, 10:43:46 PM »
As John C would say, "You betcha".

 ;)
2000 Winnebago Adventurer 37G (F53 chassis, Ford 6.8 V10 gas)
1999 Ford Escort SE (2.0L 4cyl gas)
Brits spending half each year in the US and/or Canada
www.rv-and.us

Tom

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Re: Variation on importing US RV to the UK
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2012, 10:54:56 PM »
Dougie, you've been hiding your light under a bushel  ;D
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Dougie Brown

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Re: Variation on importing US RV to the UK
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2012, 10:57:43 PM »
Typical British understatement probably.

 ::)
2000 Winnebago Adventurer 37G (F53 chassis, Ford 6.8 V10 gas)
1999 Ford Escort SE (2.0L 4cyl gas)
Brits spending half each year in the US and/or Canada
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Ladybiker

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Re: Variation on importing US RV to the UK
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2012, 02:51:02 PM »
Dougie, that was a huge help.  Thanks a bunch.  I need to clarify just a couple more things.

We would have the RV in the EU for several years under our Montana registration.  There are a lot of folks doing that right now.  So we figure we'd join them.  They use it for a few months each year and then put it in storage when they're back in the US.  So far the local police don't seem to care whether or not they register them in any EU country.  I guess since they keep moving from country to country it doesn't seem to matter.

When we take the RV to the UK via ferry for the last time it'll still have US plates.  We'll have owned it for several years at that point in the EU.  Can we just sell it right away or would we need to first register it?  We wouldn't have a UK address and don't plan to move there.  Keeping in mind we're not UK citizens.

So I take it the fog lights are not the same physical lights as the nighttime tail lights, correct? 

Also, from what I've read, the brake lights need to be different physical lights from the taillights.  Correct?

The UK fuel prices are one reason we're looking at shipping something like a Winnebago View.  They're extremely good quality and get around 18 to 20 mpg.

Where are you hanging out in the US now?  We're in Phoenix for a few weeks.

Dougie Brown

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Re: Variation on importing US RV to the UK
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2012, 05:56:28 PM »
We would have the RV in the EU for several years under our Montana registration.  There are a lot of folks doing that right now.  So we figure we'd join them.  They use it for a few months each year and then put it in storage when they're back in the US.  So far the local police don't seem to care whether or not they register them in any EU country.  I guess since they keep moving from country to country it doesn't seem to matter.
Each EU member state (used to be called "countries", lol) has its own rules regarding importing and/or using vehicles, although many have the same rules.  That's part of the overall harmonisation plans which European directives work towards.  Taking the UK as an example, when you arrive (by that, I mean the vehicle, but of course you have to also physically arrive to take possession of it, not necessarily on the same day - it will sit in a customs compound until someone makes the necessary declarations and it's released), you will be declaring that the vehicle is not a permanent import.  If within the prescribed 6 months, you drive it out the country (and I'd recommend the Chunnel train rather than a ferry - 32 mins & no price difference), then you will have complied with UK legislation.  The difference thereafter however, is that there will be no more declarations when entering any other country during your trip.  In that respect, EU member states work in the same way as the United States.  There are no border or customs controls - nothing.  So you're quite right about no-on caring about vehicles in storage, since apart from the country of landing, there are no records of entry or exit, same as in Arizona, Texas or any other US state.  Speaking with my ex-Police hat on, determining whether a foreign vehicle has been in the country for more than its allowed 6-months-in-any-12, is pretty much impossible.  In the UK, you can ask the driver to produce evidence of entry in the form of a ferry or Chunnel ticket, but he's under no obligation to carry or produce one.  It's up to law enforcement to prove the issue, not the driver to disprove it.  In any case, the UK view - and as far as I know, the general European view - is that provided the vehicle is legal in respect of insurance and safe in respect of condition, there are bigger fish to fry.

When we take the RV to the UK via ferry for the last time it'll still have US plates.  We'll have owned it for several years at that point in the EU.  Can we just sell it right away or would we need to first register it?  We wouldn't have a UK address and don't plan to move there.  Keeping in mind we're not UK citizens.
It's an offence to sell a foreign-registered vehicle in the UK, but it goes on all the time, especially between other EU vehicle owners.  It's not an offence for non-UK citizens to buy and sell UK vehicles, and the address issue is pretty easy to get around in these circumstances.  I know that's not what you're asking, but it still might be a useful piece of info.  Selling a non-UK-registered vehicle in the UK may provide the buyer with some difficulties when they go to register it, as they will have to make the import declarations when in fact they didn't import it.  The seller commits the offence, but I have never known anyone to be prosecuted for it (it's also pretty much unenforceable as the seller will be untraceable, and frankly no-one really cares).  So, the answer is you will have to register it in the UK before selling it, which isn't such a big deal apart from making the Construction & Use changes to comply with legislation (lights etc.) and having it MoT'd prior to application.

So I take it the fog lights are not the same physical lights as the nighttime tail lights, correct?  Also, from what I've read, the brake lights need to be different physical lights from the taillights.  Correct?
Have a look at http://tinyurl.com/74x8aal - fog lights have the same bulb as indicators - single-contact 21w - and are contained in a separate lens controlled with a dashboard switch.  The power to that switch must be disconnected when the vehicle headlights dip beam is switched off; that means that the fog lights must go off when a) the lights are switched off altogether,  b) the vehicle is on sidelights-only (not ever recommended when driving at night), or c) main headlight beam is selected.

The UK fuel prices are one reason we're looking at shipping something like a Winnebago View.  They're extremely good quality and get around 18 to 20 mpg.
Just so long as you're aware gas & diesel are around 2.6 times US prices, so around $9.50 a US gallon.  Remember also that a US gallon is 0.832674 of a UK gallon (but in any case, fuel is sold in litres in the UK and all of Europe).

Another thing you will have to do is insure it with an EU-approved insurer.  American insurance is not acceptable, same as UK insurance is not acceptable in the US.  If you insure it in (say) France, that will be fine for all the EU member states you visit.  The insurers may insure it on the VIN or the US plate, it doesn't really matter which.  Not many insurers in the UK do American RVs, but there are half-a-dozen who do.  I can't tell you about other EU countries, but I do know that France prohibits the registration of US RVs (there's no problem driving them in France, you just can't register them).  In your position, I would personally insure it in the UK (you will need a UK address, but that can be done) even although you may never set foot in the UK for a long time.  Some UK insurers however provide that the vehicle is MoT'd as a condition of the policy, so those wouldn't work for you.  One last thing - leaving your RV unattended even for one night is not allowed on a lot of insurance policies (my UK policy states that).  I have taken a calculated risk and left it in Spain for 2 months, but in the knowledge that a claim during that period may not be met.

Where are you hanging out in the US now?  We're in Phoenix for a few weeks.
Just down the road in Casa Grande.

Dougie.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2012, 06:16:09 PM by Dougie Brown »
2000 Winnebago Adventurer 37G (F53 chassis, Ford 6.8 V10 gas)
1999 Ford Escort SE (2.0L 4cyl gas)
Brits spending half each year in the US and/or Canada
www.rv-and.us

Tom

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Re: Variation on importing US RV to the UK
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2012, 06:09:16 PM »
Another comprehensive response Dougie. One minor slip of the keyboard:

Quote
a UK gallon is 0.832674 of a US gallon

It's the other way round.
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Ladybiker

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Re: Variation on importing US RV to the UK
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2012, 07:38:03 PM »
WOW!!  Such a wealth of information.  We need to get this put in a good library someplace. 

Would you or anyone else know of any company in the US that can do the conversion or at least run the wiring and provide the right lights and lenses in advance?   I've got to think it'd be cheaper to get that done here rather than there.

We've spent quite a bit of time in Europe riding bicycles.  We're slowly working on completing many of the new Eurovelo routes which is part of the reason we want this RV.  So we know all about those high gas prices.  Our plan is to spend a month at a time in a select region and then explore it thoroughly before moving on.  So our travel distance per year will likely be less than what we do here.  Also, our current RV (we're full timers here in the US) gets a whopping 6 mpg in town and if we're real careful 10 mpg highway.  So having an RV over there that gets 18 to 20 plus not driving so much distance we hope things will even out at least a little bit.

Anyway, regarding insurance.  The Thum insurance company (www.thuminsurance.com) specializes in providing green card and collision insurance for American registered RVs in Europe.  It's not cheap.  But it's at least easy to get.  I've gotten some quotes:

For liability the total cost Including All Fees for:
3 Months $ 404.00
6 Months $ 576.00
12 Months $ 852.00

For full coverage estimates I got the following.  Note that this will likely change a bit for a specific RV.
  Motor Home Value at $ 35,000 Full Coverage (liability with collision and comprehensive coverage)
          3 Months - $ 1,220.00
          6 Months - $ 1,991.00
 
  Motor Home Value at $ 20,000 Full Coverage (liability with collision and comprehensive coverage)
          3 Months - $ 944.00
          6 Months - $ 1,518.00

When it's in storage we can simply turn off the insurance.  We've heard that some of the storage places in Netherlands actually provide insurance for their stored vehicles as part of their storage fees.  So at least fire, theft, vandalism, etc would be covered.

And just for yucks I asked about liability for a moped:

Regarding Liability Only on the Vespa the prices as follows (same as Liability Only for the RV):
          3 Months $ 404.00
          6 Months $ 576.00
          12 Months $ 852.00

So my dream of having a pair of bikes plus a moped along for the ride will be downgraded to just bikes.  But it's also possible to add a little gas motor onto a bike that can go up to 30 to 35 mph and 60 miles or more on a little tank of gas.  You can mount these on the front or rear wheels of any bike, including folding bikes. With the flip of a clutch you can switch from having a normal pedal bike to having a little motor bike.  Just google bike engines and you get a list of places that sell them including:
www.bicycle-engines.com
www.bikeberry.com
http://www.kingsmotorbikes.com/

The advantage, no license, no insurance, no registration, and it saves space.

loddy

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Re: Variation on importing US RV to the UK
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2012, 05:09:54 AM »
Doug

The fog lamp can be mounted in the centre or the off side of the vehicle and must be 21 watts the switch at the front must have a tell tale light on it, just to be correct  ;D

Loddy

 

Dougie Brown

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Re: Variation on importing US RV to the UK
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2012, 12:24:01 PM »
Alan,

I knew that.  :o   ;D

Dougie.
2000 Winnebago Adventurer 37G (F53 chassis, Ford 6.8 V10 gas)
1999 Ford Escort SE (2.0L 4cyl gas)
Brits spending half each year in the US and/or Canada
www.rv-and.us

loddy

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Re: Variation on importing US RV to the UK
« Reply #15 on: May 24, 2012, 11:06:51 AM »
But you didn't put it in your post Douglas

Loddy  xxx


 

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