establishing residency in Portugal, importing U.S. RV, information hard to get

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New member
Nov 18, 2020
Have spent a number of years of my life living in Europe and planning to spend as close as possible to half of the remaining years with Portuguese residency, using Portugal as a base to travel elsewhere in Europe.  Central to this plan is importing a soon-to-be-purchased Class A American motorhome, likely a Forest River 2020 Berkshire, either the QS or the slightly longer XL-37A.  Not important the vehicle - which from a European perspective would be relatively very large - but the process.  I keep getting conflicting information concerning the importing of an American RV into Europe.  Ironically, establishing residency in Portugal has become the least of my concerns.  Questions unanswered clearly so far
    • How many months do I have to have owned the vehicle in the U.S. before I can import the vehicle to Portugal duty free as a resident of Portugal?  I've heard six and then also twelve months.  Does anyone know which it is?
    • What do I need to do to the vehicle to register, license, and insure it as a Portuguese resident?  In that context,  I've heard the term "certification" used.  I believe certification would imply to some sort of commercial import license for a particular model of American RVs, not to the import of a vehicle for personal use  But I can't be sure.  I have read in various of these fora that Europeans have imported U.S. RVs and had to swap out the headlights, transform the voltage to take 240V shorepower, maybe find different propane fittings for different countries, etc.  All manageable although I don't have a reading yet on the headlights problem.  What I don't know about is whether there would be a blanket embargo on importing US. RVs, even as a Portuguese resident, unless the vehicle has achieved some kind of European-wide or even Portuguese import "certificate."  Obviously, if I'm paying north of $200K for a quality American Class A RV, it would be a calamity if I couldn't import it properly.  I would have to ship it back to the U.S. which is actually not that expensive.  But why put that kind of money into an RV in the states when I own a home?
    • Has anyone in this forum ever moved an American RV to Europe as a tourist and what happened?  Did you have to pay import duties even if it had American plates?  I originally thought I could import it as a tourist using American plates and then convert it to Portuguese registration when the ownership "incubation" had run its course and I'd also obtained Portuguese residency.  Pretty sure I can't do that now but still very hard to be sure from a distance.
    • Anything else anybody thinks I've overlooked which could be considerable.  Steep learning curve!

      Thank you for your time

      Curtis Dowds
      [email protected]
      (619) 216-9897


Well-known member
Aug 16, 2016
Welcome to the Forum.  First, I have not taken an RV to Europe, so no direct experience.  But, I have sympathy for your learning curve. To that end, here is a link to a "trusted" source that DOES have direct experience.  These folks are long-time RVers who have posted many helpful blogs.  They write here about many of the things you mentioned, but there were a few topics you may not have considered yet.

Please take a look.

Of particular interest are the links to American RV Clubs in the UK, which I think you may contact to get answers to some of your questions.

My additional thoughts would be to contact the Portuguese Embassy here in the US and try to find some answers.  They should be able to help you distinguish requirements for owning an RV between being a European RESIDENT, vs. traveling with a visa.

or, contact the US State Department, but they may not know all the particulars that apply to your situation,

or, locate a shipping agent, or legal counsel, that handles relocation requirements for Americans going to Europe.  I'm sure they exist, and would probably have many answers for you regarding taxes, vehicle registration, converting headlights etc.

Good luck with your adventure,


Well-known member
Nov 8, 2009
Exporting should be fairly simple.  Making it legal in Europe, changing from 120VAC 60Hz to 220VAC 50Hz changing the propane fill adapter, or in the case of a MH changing the gas tank might prove to be too much.  Other than size wiata the reason for import rather than buying one local?

Mr C

Mar 19, 2020
I don't think it would be worth the hassels. There are great resources on line to build your own van style rv if that would work for you.


Nov 9, 2020
If it?s anything like Spain, you are entitled to ?bring with you ? ie become a resident, with one main vehicle, that negates any need for CE homologization. Which really is a big problem otherwise.
FYI, the propane & electrics are not an issue, the electric is easily resolved. We run 110v 220v & 12v

As you said, as long as you?ve owned it for xx months before the move & it needs to stay in your possession for a certain amount of time afterwards.
We looked into importing a UK registered Canadian RV & this was the only option available. But as we where already residents it was impossible.
We now have a vehicle previously imported by someone else with this method, which they then sold on at a later date.
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