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  #1  
Old 07-19-2019, 08:10 AM
tennisshoe tennisshoe is offline
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Permanent Move to Europe

Hi, I'm relocating to Europe for a job. Does anyone have experience with the process of taking a BMW back to Europe long term, i.e. having it modified for EU specs? I'm able to get shipping costs for transport (~$1000) but no one is telling me how much things will cost on the other side. My understanding is I at least won't have to pay taxes since its part of a permanent relocation. But I don't know what the other costs (Euro spec, etc.) will be. There was another post that mentioned things like fog lists and changing the headlight bulb but didn't give a ballpark price for it.

Or does someone know a shipper that could give me a quote that handles this "door to door" cost?

Thanks in advance. In case it matters, I have a 2014 BMW X1 xDrive28i. They seem to cost way more in Europe than I could get for selling it here, which is why I'm thinking of keeping it.
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  #2  
Old 07-19-2019, 09:30 AM
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I'd ballpark another $1k for bringing it to Euro spec (just in parts, swapping it is relatively easy).
Recommended:
- headlights (some headlights can be converted just by flipping a lever under the assembly, since Euro headlights are asymmetrical and a slightly different pattern than ours)
- tail lights (remember, RED blinkers are illegal in Europe)
- fog lights, front AND back (if you have fronts, then rears are just a matter of swapping the control knob (most likely your tails already have the wiring and the bulb, but they are disconnected and not used).
- Emission wise you should be good, just a matter of certifying that and getting a sticker.

(Disclaimer: I have not imported a BMW to Europe yet, although I have done it with other brands). For BMWs I have converted US spec cars to Euro spec cars here, in the US (red blinkers give me chills).
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Old 07-22-2019, 10:29 AM
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Many years ago I shipped my E46 to the UK when I was stationed there for three years. My shipping experience was a little different, but while each country has it's own laws regarding vehicle operation, I am sure there are some similarities in what needs to done or things for you to think about.

Here is what I can provide:

- I don't think you'll get a "door to door" quote per se. For an overseas shipment like this, you'll probably need to drop the car off at a US port or depot facility designated by the shipping company you choose. On the Netherlands end, you will probably have to get to a port city like Rotterdam or Amsterdam to pick it up from the shipper. I knew families who shipped vehicles outside of the one provided by the military and many times they had to drop it off at a port on the east coast. In any of the cases, don't be surpised if the vehicle is loaded in a shipping container and not a roll-on-roll-off cargo ship.

- You won't be paying any sort of sales tax or VAT since you are shipping in a vehicle which you already own, but you will most likely have to pay to register the vehicle and whatever form of tax the Dutch charge just like the fees most states in the US charge. In the UK it was called a "road tax" and you had to display the tax "disk" in the window to keep from getting ticketed. The regulations in the Netherlands may be different than in the UK, but in the UK I had to have UK or EU plates on the car within 30~45 days of the car arriving in-country. In order to get the plates I had to pay the tax, get the car inspected (safety/smog like many US states do), and apply for plates.

- Modification for Dutch/EU roads. The main modification I can think of will be the addition of rear fog lights. On my E-46, the tail light assemblies were all the same, they were just missing the bulbs. The dealer added a new headlight switch with the extra button for rear fogs, put bulbs in the tail light housing, and re-flashed the ECU. One thing I don't know about are the color of your rear blinkers. In the US, the F3X cars have solid red tail lights, but the Dutch/EU may require amber rear blinkers. This might require entire new tail light assemblies. On my E46, they were already amber, so it wasn't a big deal. I had another mod, but it was UK specific due to driving on the other side of the road, and doesn't apply here.

- Financing. Are you currently leasing or paying for the vehicle? If so, this could be a problem. Unless you finance through someone like USAA or Navy Federal Credit Union, the bank will not allow you to ship the car overseas while still making payments. Fortunatly, I financed my E46 at that time though USAA, but they still had to make some changes on their end to keep things within their policies.

- Insurance. Insurance is not international, at least not in the UK. In the UK, you had to insure the car with a company who had a UK based operation. The Dutch may have the same laws. If your current insurance company doesn't have a presence and legal rights to operate in the Netherlands, you'll need to find a Dutch insurance company. I do remember auto insurance in the UK being quite a bit higher than what I paid in the US.

- Don't count on the warranty from BMW NA being honored if you need work done. Somehow my UK dealership honored the NA warranty for remaining year when I moved there. I don't know if that was a BMW UK thing or the dealership was REALLY being good to me.

- When you ship the car home, it MUST have the EPA stickers under the hood. If you don't have it, the shipper will not be allowed to bring it back to the US. You'll also need to make sure it is immaculately clean. That actually goes for outbound shipment as well....

That's all I can think of at the moment, but will try to answer any questions.
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  #4  
Old 07-24-2019, 10:02 AM
tennisshoe tennisshoe is offline
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Thanks for all the detail. My warranty expired this week so no need to worry about that I originally bought the car with cash so the title is clear of liens. Don't plan on moving back to the US anytime soon; Trump wants us brown people out of the country so I figured I might as well take the 35 hour work week with 2 months vacation deal in France.

One thing I discovered is that US ports all have different requirements on what paperwork is required. For example on top of the title NY wants the Bill of Sale and notarized evidence from bank statements that I paid the original amount for any cars 5 years or less old. Baltimore only requires the title.

Also, I didn't know this originally but I have a few months where I can drive the car under US registration (as long as I get insured as you say). This is nice; I don't have to immediately stress about the needed modifications.

I will update this thread for others as I make process on this.
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Old 07-24-2019, 10:49 AM
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Old 07-24-2019, 11:04 AM
tennisshoe tennisshoe is offline
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Ya, I don't expect it to be a cheap conversion. But BMW's are so much more expensive in Europe compared to the US that I should at least break even. Will update as I learn more.
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Old 07-24-2019, 02:47 PM
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Old 07-24-2019, 04:48 PM
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tennisshoe, one thing you can do in advance is calculate the "fiscal rating" of your E84. You'll need this data in order to eventually register the vehicle in France.

Formula:
PF = (CO2/45) + (P/40)^1.6

where
PF = Puissance Fiscale (Fiscal Rating)
CO2 = Carbon Dioxide Emissions (g/km)
P = Horsepower

ADEME Simulator: http://carlabelling.ademe.fr/recherche/index?category
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Last edited by gkr778; 07-24-2019 at 04:49 PM.
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Old 07-25-2019, 12:32 AM
tennisshoe tennisshoe is offline
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Thanks for the suggestion. I'll look into it. The model I have, xDrive28i isn't sold in France so the emissions data might take some more digging to find. Can't imagine the results will be worse than an X5 with the xDrive40i engine which is sold here.
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Old 07-26-2019, 08:11 AM
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Sorry for all the reference to the Netherlands. I don't know why I had that specific country in mind. Probably due a similar post I commented on.

Interesting to hear about the different port requirements. I would have thought they would be universal. Part of the problem is people operating as gray market dealers buying "cheap" cars in the US and then exporting them to European and Asian buyers at a fraction of the cost they'd pay in the home country.
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Old 07-26-2019, 08:19 PM
BeamerandBimmer BeamerandBimmer is offline
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All the best in your move to Europe.
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Old 07-27-2019, 07:27 PM
tennisshoe tennisshoe is offline
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Looking into the PF rating mentioned by gkr778 I noticed France has a tax on car registrations with larger engines. Not sure if I'll have to pay since its a self-owned vehicle; will keep an eye on it for now. Insurance might also be higher than usual on it since its an atypically large engine for France.
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Old 07-29-2019, 07:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dandanio View Post
- tail lights (remember, RED blinkers are illegal in Europe)
Arrghh . . . . only makes it that much more frustrating that most manufacturers, including BMW, now have eliminated yellow blinkers in US (even though they're entirely legal). I would have thought it would be less expensive to have the same arrangement for both Europe and US than a different set up . . .

(And I hate red blinkers in US because it's not as obviously distinct from braking.)
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Old 07-31-2019, 08:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tennisshoe View Post
Looking into the PF rating mentioned by gkr778 I noticed France has a tax on car registrations with larger engines. Not sure if I'll have to pay since its a self-owned vehicle; will keep an eye on it for now. Insurance might also be higher than usual on it since its an atypically large engine for France.
I lived in Europe until 2001, am considering moving back permanently in the next 18 months. Yes, you will pay for 2.0 liter gasoline engine (comically, unusually large displacement) quite a bit. Doesn't matter that it is a personal use vehicle. You might pay less than commercially registered vehicle with same numbers, but it will be a whole lot more than what you are used to in US.

I currently own VW Golf GTI and 981 Cayman. If I were to move to EU right now, selling the VW is no-brainer. Here, it is a grocery-getter with small engine. Over there, I would pay huge penalty in insurance and registration cost over the same gen Golf powered by 1.4 liter diesel.

I frankly, do not even want to contemplate how much would comprehensive + registration set me back for the Cayman - let's say were are talking ballpark of $4,000 - $6,000 for 12 months before even a drop of $8/gallon gasoline goes into its tank. It will be no-brainer to insure it and register it for only summer 6 months - I just cannot even think about selling that car right now.

Get all your numbers straight, do a calculation how much more you will be paying yearly for that respect to buying something local - before you make the move. Good luck with everything.
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Old 07-31-2019, 02:01 PM
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When you ship your car you will also have to buy separate Marine Insurance that covers the car and your portion of the loss to the ship owner if the ship sinks (that stinks) also there will be a port handling charge from the clearing house that takes your car through ECU customs ( for my car 5 yrs ago we paid 1200 Euros). If you look at the numbers, sell the car, it is only a car, and purchase something appropriate in Europe. My insurance for a 1972 MB 450SL runs about $900 per year but it is an "H" registered vehicle that is driven less than 5000 km per year.
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Old 08-06-2019, 05:10 PM
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My parents moved to another EU country (more east). They shipped Honda CRV. Shipping out of NJ cost $650. Only needed title and registration. Once there all they had to do to prove that they had this vehicle for 6+ months in USA. (Save your USA car registration for proof). No customs fees, didn't had to change lights. They where able to register without issues. They didn't had to do anything to the lights or anything else, DMV there have exemption for that. If you move permanently there to live there, you can bring your vehicle with USA specs, register there and pass inspection with that exemption. But you can't sell it for 1 year. After one year you can, but then next owner will have to change tail lights (amber turn signals, rear fogs).
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Old 08-06-2019, 05:19 PM
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I shipped another car 2017 VW passat to EU. With some damage. I bought it at auto auction. For this car I needed bill of sale and title. $650 for shipping. 1600 euros import tax. Got it repaired there. Then, another shop had to customize tail lights to make amber turn signals and rear fogs. Pass special inspection to make sure it meets euro specs. Only then I was able to register.
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Old 10-16-2019, 09:58 AM
tennisshoe tennisshoe is offline
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Thanks everyone for adding information to this thread. Here's a update on the costs I've run into so far:

1) Shipping to Europe was $1200. $500 to get it transported from Boston to NJ, $600 to Belgium, and $100 in fees. I was rushed so probably paid more than I had to for the Boston NJ leg. I specifically went for a port in NJ because NY wanted additional paperwork on newer model cars. I avoided having to notarize something which saved some time for me.

2) Port fees in Zeebrugge, Belgium were 350 EUR and customs in France was 400 EUR. The fees charged by the involved companies were a small part of this, maybe 10%. The port fee would have been half if I had been able to pick up my car as soon as it arrived. I probably should have just sent it directly to Le Havre, France to make the import process more complicated, even though shipping NJ to France was more expensive.

3) The reason I failed to pick up the car right away was I had a hard time finding car insurance. Without a French registration, most insurance companies wouldn't work with me because I have the wrong paperwork. I eventually found a company and discovered my insurance would be about 4x more than in Boston. This is due to a combination of my driving record being reset (France assumes I am a terrible driver by default) and the fact that the X1 xDrive28i isn't sold in France. The engine is too large for the market. I dropped my level of insurance to the minimum required so I'm actually paying 2x what I was in Boston.

4) Surprisingly I was able to pass inspection (controle technique) without any modifications to the car. So just the usual 100 EUR testing fee. Two minor faults (not necessary to get fixed) were listed: front fog light wasn't pointed properly and something with the tire. But no complaints about the lack of amber back turn lights. Perhaps the red blinkers are ok in France? Or I just got lucky with the technician?

Anyway next step is the registration, the carte gris.

Last edited by tennisshoe; 10-16-2019 at 10:00 AM.
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Old 10-21-2019, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by tennisshoe View Post
I dropped my level of insurance to the minimum required so I'm actually paying 2x what I was in Boston.
Yikes - it's not like Boston is a cheap insurance market . . .
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