The notes on importing a Fulvia into Germany are from Andrew Sanderson.
It is followed by a short comment from Andrea.
Below that I have added some notes about my experience on importing Lancia's from Italy into the Netherlands. People from these countries or other EC countries are hereby invited to mail me with their experience and/or usefull notes.
Experiences of importing a Lancia Fulvia from Italy to Germany
plus some useful contacts
by Andrew Sanderson, firstname.lastname@example.org
- "Smart" / a national monthly / about DM 4 (4,000 lira) / from most news stands. An Italian magazine for real estate, second hand boats, cars etc. with adverts for old and collectors cars from private sellers as well as dealers - a useful place to start
- For Liguria and the Italian Riviera region, try "Gli Affari" / a regional magazine published weekly / (I used the Riviera & Ligure edition - there may be other regional editions?) / DM 3.20 (3,200 lira) / from local news stands
- there are probably many others …
- check the Internet, too
(you'll have to speak German with these numbers & contacts)
- general information - 0621 0180 510 1112
- the ADAC specialist on export / import information is Frau Werner 089 76 76 6331 (ADAC Am Westpark 8, 81373 Munchen) She's extremely knowledgeable and very helpful; ask her for a copy of the (German language) information sheet on "importing & exporting second-hand cars within the European Community" - a very useful overview: she can post it or send it by fax
- for technical information (eg how to run "older cars that usually use leaded petrol" using lead-free petrol etc.) try the ADAC technical office Cologne:
0221 47 27 635 - general switchboard, usually busy
0221 47 27 633 - a direct extension, usually answered
- general enquiries - telephone 0461 850
- the address is Kraftfahrtbundesamt, 24932 Flensburg
- the function of this office is to hULd the national listing of all cars registered in Germany
- if you buy a car outside Germany & import it to Germany for registration in Germany, one of the papers you have to get is an "Unbedenklichkeitsbescheinigung" which states that there is no (moral) reason why the car cannot be registered in Germany (ie it has not been listed as "ever having been stULen")
- to apply for this certificate you write a letter stating the make, model and chassis number, prove your title of ownership, add a cheque for DM 26 and you get it back within a week - but its best to phone Flensburg to check on this method in case it has changed and they'll tell you precisely what they want / need
- note that if a car has been registered as stolen and you try to re-register it in Germany, it will be confiscated and you will not be reimbursed in any way - you lose the car and any money paid completely
- note also that you cannot apply for an "Unbedenklichkeitsbescheinigung" unless you are already the legal owner of the vehicle and have paid for it (… you cannot run a check with Flensburg to see if the vehicle has been stolen within Germany before you buy it, because this would contravene European Community laws on privacy of private & personal information in public records !!! stupid, eh ?)
- however, in practice:
- the Kraftfahrtbundeamt only holds records on vehicles that have ever been registered in Germany,
- and the definition of "ever having been stolen" actually translates as "ever having been stolen in Germany"
- which means that, as long as the vehicle you buy has never been registered in Germany before (even if it has been stolen within another European Community country) you can successfully re-register it in Germany because the German national register at the Kraftfahrtbundeamt in Flensburg has no links to the national registers of other member countries of the European Community (or so I was told - if this is true, it's another example of bureaucratic stupidity)
- nevertheless, the summary (as always) is: avoid buying any vehicle that you believe or know to have been stolen - typical tell-tale signs are evidence that someone has tried to fool around with the chassis or engine numbers stamped onto the machine
- note also that the "Unbedenklichkeitsbescheinigung" is only valid for one month - you must get the vehicle registered within this period or re-apply to get a new certificate from Flensburg
Italian vehicle registration papers
- This is the Italian Ministry of Transport vehicle registration document - it shows the make & model, the chassis number, (but not the engine number), the licence plate number, the number of seats, engine size in cc & horsepower, etc etc. (It's not as detailed as the German one which also tells you things like tyres allowed, etc)
- note that with vehicles bought in Italy, the registration papers are re-issued with each change of ownership and will therefore only show you the names and addresses of the current & previous owners - you simply can't get a "full history of who has owned it and for how long, ever since the vehicle was manufactured" because this data isn't recorded on this paper (though it used to be recorded in the old-style Italian "vehicle ownership logbook" which was transferred, with the vehicle, from one owner to the next)
- note also that this paper documents the details of registration with the Ministry only and it is not the same as a document of ownership, which is the …
Certificato di Proprieta
To re-register the vehicle in Germany you also need a …
- the name on this document is the name of the officially registered owner of the vehicle (with their address)
- if the person selling you the vehicle is someone other than the person named in the Certificato di Proprieta, there had better be a damned good reason for it (something better than "it belongs to my Granny"). Take great care (ask to meet Granny), take appropriate action (meet Granny) and check the whole deal thoroughly …
- you must have this document ("Certificato do Proprieta") … a) in case you are stopped on a random police check while driving your newly purchased vehicle home or b) at the Italian national frontier as you leave the country (this happened to me, but the guys were really friendly) and c) to re-register the vehicle in Germany
Notarised Bill of Sale
- this is a document witnessed by an Italian notary (lawyer) to say that the vehicle has been sold by the current owner to you and it records:
- the names and addresses (permanent residence) of the buyer and the seller, together with their id card or passport numbers, date and place of birth etc.
- the sale price
- whether the sale was subject to Value Added Tax and if so, the amount (this applies to purchases of vehicles from dealers but not between private individuals - see also Frau Werner's notes from the ADAC on the tax implications of this for importation into Germany)
- the vehicle make, model, chassis number etc (taken from the vehicle registration documents) - make sure that these match the details of the vehicle you viewed and refer to the one you really want to buy
- whether or not payment has been made in full (if you have paid already, check for the use of the past tense - the word for "paid" in the notarised document should be something like "pagato" not "a pagare" meaning "to be paid") and if you're in any doubt, take along someone you can trust who speaks & reads Italian well
- the cost for getting such a bill of sale notarised in Italy in May 1998 was Lira 100,000 (about DM 100) and it's usual for the buyer to pay this, and you might just as well get two copies made at the same time, just in case one ever goes missing
- this is a standard activity for notaries in Italy and can usually be wrapped up in an hour or two
You've found the vehicle of your dreams … now, how are you going to pay for it ?
- I thought I could use my Mastercard, so I phoned my bank to check on my limit and they gave me the go-ahead. Then, when I got to the bank I was told that I could only take out a maximum of US $1,000-00 in cash per seven days … not enough (but we fixed it all OK in the end)
- summary: get yourself a Gold Card (Visa, Mastercard, Amex, etc) with no limits on cash withdrawals if you are going for a private sale / purchase
- if buying from a dealer, a standard card will be OK (as long as your personal limit will match the price) because the transaction counts as a "commercial transaction" not a "cash withdrawal"
In addition, to successfully register an imported vehicle in Germany, you must also have from the Italian vehicle registration authorities (the Italian ACI) a document that states that the vehicle has been de-registered in Italy, which in practice means a
- be aware that Eurocheques take seven days to clear
- bank transfers also take seven days and will cost you a hefty transfer (interbank plus foreign exchange) fee
- when paying money into someone else's bank account, get a receipt from the bank stating the amount and the date - and then write the purpose of the transaction on the receipt with the registration number of the vehicle or the chassis number, add the words "in full and final settlement of the agreed price" (if this is the case) and get the seller to sign it
Certificate of Exportation
- this document means that the seller is no longer liable to pay vehicle tax for the vehicle in Italy (so it's in their interest to get it for you)
- getting this document costs about DM 120 and the seller usually pays this (it balances out against the fee for the notary ie similar costs for both parties in the deal)
- BUT … it is usual in Italy, when de-registering ownership of a vehicle (ie when one Italian sells a vehicle to another Italian) that the original vehicle registration documents are handed over in exchange for the de-registration document and you should not let this happen under any circumstances because …
- you need the original Italian vehicle documents to get the car re-registered with the local German authorities …
- so what you have to do is:
( It's easy really.)
- keep the original Italian vehicle registration documents and take them back to Germany with you,
- explain to your local German registering authority that you are importing a vehicle and get them to give you an official letter stating that the original Italian registration documents are needed for re-registration of the vehicle in Germany …
- and then send that letter back to your seller (keep a copy for yourself) so that they can successfully de-register the vehicle in Italy as having been exported (Exportation document)
- and then get the seller to send the document of Exportation to you so that you can re-register the vehicle in Germany.
OK, so now the vehicle is legally yours, how are you going to get it back to Germany ?
The simplest method - ie least complications and formalities - is to put it on a trailer and drag it back home … the vehicle is not travelling under its own power and is therefore legally an "a privately owned object which is being exported", It just happens that the object is the shape of a vehicle. You don't need vehicle tax, licence plates or third party insurance for the vehicle on the trailer (though you might want to cover yourself for loss by theft). This method may be necessary if you're buying a vehicle that has to be restored before it will even run under its own power. The downside is that, unless you have access to a trailer, this can be costly.
As far as driving your newly acquired vehicle back to Germany goes, there are two main issues:
- you can only drive an Italian-registered vehicle if it has standard licence plates ("Targe") or the red ones used by dealers to move vehicles in between periods of registration
- which means that the simplest way to get home is;
- to drive home using the Italian licence plates (and Italian insurance - see below),
- take the licence plates off when you get home and post them to the seller (together with the letter from your local vehicle registration office saying that the original Italian vehicle documents are needed for registration in Germany),
- the seller then hands in the licence plates and the letter from the German vehicle registration office to the Italian ACI to de-register the vehicle, - gets in return a declaration that the vehicle has been exported … - and posts it you so you can re-register the vehicle in Germany
- other options are more complex for a different set of reasons:
I n short, the "red plate" method has been known to work all the way through from Italy to Germany, but in strictly legal terms and going by the book, it may be inviting trouble.
- strictly speaking, Italian "red plates" are only valid within Italian national boundaries;
- strictly speaking, German "red plates" are only valid in Germany
- which leaves you with a gap in between and the question of getting temporary licence plates for either:
- France (bureaucratic nightmare) or
- Austria (rumoured to be pretty sympathetic but I have no evidence), or
- Switzerland (complex bcause it's not part of the European Community - plus: if it's an expensive vehicle, they have the right to charge you a fee when you enter the country as a guarantee that you won't sell it in Switzerland; they return most of it when you travel out the other side, but somewhere along the way they bill you a fee for VAT or administration and being Switzerland it won't be cheap).
- only Italian residents can buy insurance from an Italian insurance company
- to buy insurance from a German insurance company, you have to present all vehicle documentation in Germany - ie take the papers to Germany and then go back to Italy for the vehicle
- in practice, there is a way round this but the pre-condition is mutual trust between both parties so the choice is entirely up to you: as the buyer, you pay for a short-term insurance policy (1 to 2 weeks) taken out in the name of the seller and using their address in Italy and with yourself as second, named driver. If anything happens en route, you're legally covered and neither of you damage any long term policy or no-claims bonus you may have.
- this method is expensive (eight days insurance in May 1998 cost DM 250) because the insurance companies insist on a minimum charge of 15% of the annual fee for even 1 days insurance just to cover administration charges
- on the other hand, this is cheaper than going to Italy to find a car, buying it and taking the papers home, buying insurance in Germany (where the short term policy costs are quite possibly just as high) and then going back to Italy a second time to collect the vehicle. Basically you simply have to reckon on paying this sort of fee and adding it (with travel to Italy, hotels, etc) into your calculations for "total cost of acquisition of the vehicle"
Back home …
- take your car to the TUV and get it tested for roadworthiness;
- if it fails, they give you a list of reasons why it failed
- take the car and the list to a workshop and get everything fixed … if you're unsure of technical standards on anything (eg I found the technicalities of tyre ratings bewildering) the guys at the TUV are very helpful and will explain everything they need to get your vehicle approved
- return to the TUV with the list and the vehicle, re-do the test and get the "TUV certificate of roadworthiness" and the ASU emissions certificate
Registration in Germany
To register a vehicle imported from Italy in Germany you need to go to the local Zulassungsstelle (vehicle registration office) with the following documents:
- original notarised bill of sale
- original Italian vehicle documents - vehicle registration and certificate of ownership
- TUV certificate of roadworthiness
- Unbedenklichkeitsbescheinigung from Flensburg
What then happens is:
- your passport or id papers
- proof of vehicle insurance from a German insurer of your choice (minimum is third party liability)
- you get new German vehicle registration documents (Fahrzeugbrief and Fahrzeugschein),
- you get a paper stating the licence plate number you have been allocated
You then take the licence plate allocation document to a licence plate maker, get the plates made up with the TUV and ASU (pollution control) stamps, fix the plates to your car and drive, drive, drive. Have fun !
Warnings and horror scenarios
There's one scenario you must avoid at all costs and it looks something like this:
- before you can register the vehicle in Germany, the seller de-registers the vehicle in Italy and the Italian authorities keep the car records - the car no longer officially exists in Italy
- you take the physical car to Germany and try to register it in Germany - but you can't because you don't have the original Italian vehicle documents
- the Italian vehicle authorities can't / won't issue an export document for a vehicle that doesn't officially exist any more and isn't physically in Italy anyway …
- your pride and joy is now in bureaucratic limbo and cannot be registered for use on the road in Germany, cannot be taken back to Italy, or sold anywhere because no one will buy a vehicle that has no way of ever being registerable
- it may be in first class condition but you can't use it; it simply gathers dust ...
oh, the horror, the horror …
- In Germany an Oldtimer is a vehicle more than 30 years old (anywhere else in Europe it's 25 years)
- Oldtimer status may also be granted to very rare vehicles less than 30 years old (my 25 year old Lancia Fulvia 1,3S - of which only 45,000 were made - didn't qualify)
- the venerable age of 30 entitles you to re-regiseter your vehicle with special "Oldtimer" licence plates
- there are two practical (ie financial) benefits to Oldtimer licence plate status:
- insurance policies are usually cheaper (because these vehicles are loved and cared for beyond the norm, they are usually carefully garaged, they are seldom used as everyday vehicles, and are usually driven extremely carefully)
- pollution tax is a flat rate of DM 375 per year instead of DM 41.60 per 100 cc of engine size (1998 information) which is really good news if you want to buy a car with, say, a 4 litre engine.
This document created by Andrew Sanderson, June 1998:
Information is provided to help others on the basis of my own experiences and my understanding of rules in force at this time: no liability will be accepted for errors or omissions of fact or fiction - if in doubt, check everything for yourself, the responsibility for your own actions, including whether or not you choose to be guided by this document, is entirely yours.
Your long description of the import procedure is very helpful and detailed. I only hope its complexity will not discourage others from trying. Basically what you wrote about Italian rules is correct.
Maybe it is not appreciated that Italian plates are governement-issued and that there are strict laws (introduced as antiterrorist measures in the 70s) concerning their use and handling.
In Italy as you pointed out in addition to the log-book (which does not prove ownership) every car must have either a "certificato complementare" (old style) or "certificato di proprieta'" (new style). Without it it is illegal to sell and buy cars. From these documents one can see if the car is also subjected to HP repayments through a finance company.
Y ou forgot to mention that to drive an old car in Italy is essential to make sure that it has a current stamp in the log book concerning the road test/inspection. If not and stopped by the police, the car is immediately impounded and the fine is very large.