An Idiot's Guide to Importing
Why would you want to import a motorhome when there are plenty to choose from here? Well, in our case, we couldn't find a seven berth van at a reasonable price - there are some around, but they get snapped up quickly. The new vans are thin on the ground and tend to be £36k plus. A more popular reason is to save £6k or more by buying in Europe.
We did our research in the UK, primarily from MMM magazine and from ringing the main dealerships that dealt with european motorhomes. A quick look down the list of UK models in the back of MMM confirmed that the UK manufacturers don't cater for larger family vans, so it was onto the internet.
We narrowed the choice to the Rimor Superbrig 678 or the Roller Team Granduca 67, mainly due to the full size bunk beds across the back of the van - many vans have smaller bunks.
Whilst the biggest choice of motorhomes is in Germany, we wanted a quick and easy purchase with four of us travelling, and limited time to spend browsing.
We settled on a couple of dealers in Belgium due to their proximity to the UK, and their advertising in the UK.
Are the vans different?
As expected, ovens are an optional extra, there's no carpets, few sockets, and left hand drive. Our van had the Fiat comfort pack (elec windows, heated elec mirrors) but no CD/radio, speakers or aerial.
We opted for a 4.5m awning, four bike rack, turbovent (all Fiamma) and Smev oven/grill with the total coming to about 35,000 euros (about £28k at 1.50 exchange, including the UK VAT). Don't forget to allow for travel costs - two trips in our case,
The Red Tape
Take VAT form 415 to your local DLVA office, and complete the paperwork. It's best if you ring the DVLA a few weeks before and get hold of the import pack with all the papers in. You may find that they want to inspect the vehicle, particularly if it's been driven some distance (ours had been driven from Italy to Belgium by the dealer - we only realised when I turned the key and saw 1500km on the clock - when the dealer spoke about the transporter, we assumed he meant a flatbed truck, not a driver! Something lost in the translation I guess but it didn't concern us too much). You need to notify Customs and Excise of your import - needs to be done within seven days or you'll face a financial penalty!!! http://www.hmce.gov.uk/forms/forms/v415.pdf is the form to use.
We had to have the van inspected by the DVLA inspector. As I had a 9:30 appointment, and have an hour's drive to work, and at some point had to get the van home and pick the car up, this meant most of the morning off work. I found the inspector to be an officious little **** who, whilst only doing his job, could have benefited from some customer care training!!!! Enough said.
At the end of the day, it was an adventure which we all thoroughly enjoyed, including the children. Would we do it again? Yes!