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How to import a car from abroad with the transport exchange

>Importing cars from abroad is a popular solution among people looking for a new car. It is often easier to find a good deal abroad. However, purchasing a car from abroad means additional requirements. What formalities are involved? How can a transport exchange help you get your dream car? Read on to find out.

Importing a car from abroad – how it’s done

The first step is, of course, finding an offer that interests you. Each country has its own advertising and auction sites, where new items appear every day. Popular countries from which Poles import cars are: Germany, the United States, Belgium, France and the Netherlands. If you have found the right car and agreed on the terms of the transaction with the seller, the only thing left to do is choose the right form of transport. The most popular solutions are:

  • transporting the car on your own
  • commissioning the transport to the carrier
  • using an intermediary

Importing cars from abroad on your own

If the car is registered and has valid OC (third party liability) insurance, you can pick it up in person and then return home “on wheels”. This solution allows you to do a first check of the car on a longer route and immediately derive satisfaction from the new purchase. Cars put up for sale are often deregistered and it is the buyer’s responsibility to arrange temporary registration and insurance. Not everyone is able to do this, which is why importing a car from abroad is usually done with a tow truck. However, this service entails additional costs. The solution in this situation may be a transport exchange, which makes it much easier to find the most cost-effective carrier.

How does the transport exchange work?

After registering, you get access to the database of carriers and offers on the transport exchange. You search for the desired transport option among the available carriers or submit your own inquiry. Then you can choose the best solution from among the available transport companies.

Importing cars from abroad through an intermediary

Finding a specific car and transporting it from abroad as well as assistance with formalities can be outsourced to an agent. This is a convenient solution, because some of the responsibilities are transferred to a company which specializes in this area. However, a commission fee will have to be paid, based on the signed contract. The amount of the commission often depends on the value of the vehicle, which may make importing a car from abroad unworthwhile. Remember that the transport exchange is available to everyone. Therefore, if you are concerned about the intermediary inflating the cost of transporting the car, you can offer them a transport that you found on your own.

What are the formalities when importing cars?

There are a few formalities that have to be complied with when importing a vehicle from abroad. These include additional fees, which increase the final cost of buying a car. Failure to fulfil the requirements may prevent us from registering the vehicle in the Department of Communication and lead to additional costs.

Importing cars from abroad and excise duty

According to Art. 100 of the Excise Duty Act, the following are subject to excise tax:

  1. Import of a passenger car not previously registered in the territory of the country.
  2. Intra-Community purchase of a passenger car not previously registered in the territory of the country in accordance with the provisions on road traffic.
  3. The first sale in the territory of the country of an unregistered passenger car, which was manufactured in the territory of the country in accordance with the provisions on road traffic.

In other words, the excise duty is imposed on all cars imported from abroad, provided that they were not previously registered in Poland.

Amount of excise duty on vehicles in 2023

The amount of excise duty depends on the value of the vehicle, its engine capacity and the type of drive used, and amounts to:

  • 3.1% of the car value – for internal combustion passenger cars with an engine capacity of up to 2000 cm3.
  • 18.6% of the car value – for internal combustion passenger cars with an engine capacity exceeding 2000 cm3.
  • 1.55% of the car value – for hybrid vehicles with an engine capacity of up to 2000 cm3.
  • 9.3% of the car value – for hybrid vehicles with an engine capacity exceeding 2000 cm3.

Paying the tax is unavoidable, so potential savings should be sought elsewhere, e.g. on the transport exchange before ordering the transport. Only electric vehicles with extended range (REX) are exempt from excise duty.

Registering a car imported from abroad

The procedure for registering an imported car requires the submission of translated documents and confirmation the tax payment with the Communications Department.

Customs duties and VAT

If the car was imported from outside the European Union, a 10% customs duty and VAT apply.  Customs duties do not apply if you import a car from a European country that is not a member of the EU, e.g. Switzerland. The VAT rate is as high as 23%.

OC Insurance

Compulsory OC insurance should be purchased at the latest on the day the car is registered at the government office. Currently, it can be done online and takes just a few minutes.

On wheels or a tow truck – how to bring a car to Poland

If the car is damaged, or you did not manage to complete all the formalities on the spot, you will have to use a tow truck. You cannot drive a vehicle without license plates, valid OC or a safety inspection. It is possible to apply for short-term (5-day) plates and a temporary registration certificate in the country from which the car is imported. This however involves settling matters in a foreign government office. The easiest part perhaps is the OC insurance, as it can be purchased even for one day.

How much does it cost to register cars from abroad and how is it done?

Registering an imported car requires a payment of PLN 256 to the bank account of the transport department. Payment can also be made at the office’s cash register. In addition to the payment confirmation and the completed application for the registration of the car, the following should be submitted:

  • proof of excise duty payment
  • translated documents: vehicle card, registration certificate, sales contract
  • certificate of valid vehicle technical inspection
  • confirmation of vehicle deregistration in the country of previous registration
  • foreign registration plates –  only if you returned to Poland “on wheels”.

After submitting the documents, you will be issued a temporary registration certificate. You can collect the so-called permanent certificate at the government office after 2-3 weeks.

How to insure a car imported from abroad

You can insure a car imported from abroad with any insurance company. Insurance comparison websites are very popular now, where after providing the most important information about the vehicle and the owner, you receive offers from various insurers. In the case of deregistered cars that are transported to Poland on a tow truck – there is no insurance requirement. This requirement  applies once the vehicle is registered or once the export plates are obtained in order to travel by car “on wheels”. It is possible to buy short-term OC (e.g. for 30 days) when we have export plates or when the car is registered abroad, but has no OC.

Importing cars from abroad requires appropriate knowledge and preparation. Remember that the transport exchange can help you reduce the costs associated with transporting your vehicle to Poland. You can take advantage of the services offered by an experienced broker or import a car on your own with the help of our article.

Check out current car transport orders at prilo.com.