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Tue, Sep 16, 2014
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Importing a Car to Crete

Importing a Car to Crete and Greece

 

Importation of a car to Crete in Greece comes under the supervision of the "Directorate for the Supervision and Control of Cars" - DIPEAK in Piraeus, the port suburb of Athens and covers the whole of Greece.

Officially, no Greek VAT or Consumption Tax should be paid on second hand vehicles imported from another EU country into Greece. But the bet is, you will fail to provide complete paperwork in a very complex area thereby triggering the need to come to some sort of arrangement with the local tax office where you will be residing. (Later down the page see the Greek Embassy in London section for details and a recent experience.)

It is highly probable that any assessment made on a vehicle you wish to import to Crete will seem very high.

 

According to the British Embassy in Athens when it comes to extensions, sale and transfer of cars imported by tourists and intending residents, advice can be sought from the Greek state department in charge, the Directorate for the Supervision and Control of Cars (DIPEAK).

The contact details are:
Directorate for the Supervision and Control of Cars
DIPEAK
Akti Kondyli 32,
Piraeus,
Greece 185 10,
Telephone Nos:
+30 210 46 23615,
+30 210 46 26325,
+30 210 46 27325

Now here is the reality of settling in Crete. Crete is not Athens.  There are local prefectural offices on Crete that liaise with DIPEAK but ultimately it is the local tax officials that determine the fate of the level of tax to be paid on a vehicle.

There are some harrowing stories of how the special task force within the police (other countries call them 'Fiscal Police') are on the look out for vehicles with foreign number plates. Often a task group sits in waiting at strategic cross roads locations along main roads. Be warned,  Land Rovers seem to attract special attention.

These police are by law able to fine "on-the-spot", vehicles with foreign plates if the driver cannot:
- produce passport or identification papers,
- ferry tickets
- and vehicle tickets
to verify the date of arrival in Greece.

A day over the six months limit for temporary importation and it can be problematic. We are not talking about a few Euros. We are aware of one case where the monies could not be produced in cash and a night was spent in a local police cell - even though a local lawyer was at hand. That is how serious the situation is for vehicle importation into Greece by the Crete authorities.

Vintage, Sports and Other Car Models

Vintage, sports cars, modified and other unusual makes and designs or those that just fall through the cracks and are not mentioned in any official government paperwork, can be a nightmare. It is as simple as that, but many do with varying degrees of success.

A real experience for bringing an MGB Classic Sports Car to Crete is covered in a separate page.

The background to all this as applied in 2014, Greece continues to be fined a huge sum every day for its failure to meet EU tax obligations to bring their laws in line with the rest of the EU on Car importation from one member state to another. It pays the Greek government to maintain the status quo. Remember VAT alone is 23 per cent (2014).

A Human Dimension

Major assets and high ticket items such as cars, boats, caravans, camper vans, RCV's and the like which attract customs and excise duties are best left behind in any move to Greece. Here is a typical scenario. Local public officials earn low income compared to UK. They see the value of these items. We are foreigners, labouring with the language for the most part. Enter the human element.

Bureaucracy

Bureaucratic inconsistencies from tax office to tax office and local interpretation of the rules, work against all but the most intrepid and determined person. Of course, if the "assessment" is acceptable and you as the owner has deep pockets, then all is well.

Here is another reality of living in Crete and what we confront trying to follow the rules to pay tax and duties:
*1. It is a hassle for local officials to handle these cases as much as for us.
*2. Officials have to come to a decision - i.e make a decision .
*3. The result is to cover all angles, the high value interpretation results in high tax and duty levies on these items.

In fact, the bottom line advice we give again is leave your car, caravan, etc outside Greece and buy locally. In our opinion it is not worth the hassle to do otherwise.

If the replacement you are seeking is not available in Crete, move on and forget it or find an alternative that is.

When we as foreign residents understand that we will always be guests in the beautiful and idyllic island of Crete and Greece, the quicker we can settle in and adjust. Otherwise, we can be more frantic and pressured than back home -- wherever that is.

From our experiences:

*Do not import your car to Crete or elsewhere in Greece for that matter, instead buy in Crete/Greece.
*Loans are available. Loans in Euros are cheaper than in Sterling.
*The choice of model and make of car is excellent as witnessed by the countless car showrooms you will find in all major towns and along the 150kms+ of the main East-to-West E75 Crete island motorway.

Useful links:

- Driving in Crete.
- Motor cycles in Crete. Brits in Crete Forum for recent discussion on these subjects.

- If you are not a member, join the Brits in Crete Forum first, it is free and when there put in a search for your key words (eg "driving in Crete").
- Import your MGB or Classic Car to Crete - Get Local Advice

You can check out the British Embassy, Athens for more useful information.

 

Greece Embassy, London
Car Importation to Greece from the UK

Before you leave. Useful information on things to do. Details are taken directly from The Greek Embassy Web site in London. It is no longer possible to visit the Embassy without a prior appointment, on security grounds.

Duty And Taxation Exemption For Persons Going To Greece For Permanent Settlement:

*Greek and foreign nationals who are permanent residents abroad may be issued with a certificate of transfer of normal residence provided that they have been residing permanently in the United Kingdom for at least the last three years before they transfer their normal residence to Greece.

*In the event that the above persons are in Greece for any reason and they later express their wish to transfer their normal residence to Greece, they may be issued with a certificate of transfer of normal residence not later than 24 months after the date of their arrival in Greece.

*In order to take advantage of duty and taxation exemptions Nationals of European Union member states MUST produce to the Greek Customs authorities at Customs clearance their five years residence permit for a national of a European Union member state issued by the Aliens Department or the local police in Greece.

What to do for the Presentation of Documents to the Embassy in London for Clearance

In order to be issued with the CERTIFICATE FOR DOMICILE TRANSFER EXEMPTIONS, for MOVING RESIDENCE TO GREECE - ΠΙΣΤΟΠΟΙΗΤΙΚΑ ΜΕΤΟΙΚΕΣΙΑΣ to which you are entitled allows you to clear your vehicle, mobile home or motorcycle (over 250cc) you must produce the orriginal copies to the Consulate General of Greece the following: a) any passports they may have (Greek or Foreign) covering the previous four years. If married, spouses passports are required for the same period.
b) vehicle registration document. They must have been keeper, owner and user in the United Kingdom of the specific vehicle , mobile home/caravan or motor cycle for more than 6 months prior to their entry to Greece. ALL UNITED KINGDOM TAXES must have been paid in total and a full driving license for at least the same period (i.e. over six months). The entitlement is one car per family.
c) P60 Forms or Tax Assessment Forms for the last three years and the last P45.
d) Council Tax for the last two years or if in rented accommodation a rental agreement contract.
e) If a new boat over 7.5 metres long is imported to Greece it must be declared to the Customs authorities and V.A.T. must be paid there.
f) Personal effects brought into Greece are not subject to Customs clearance.
g) Families may import only one vehicle, mobile home or motor cycle.

*Vehicles remain under the legal status of temporary importation for a period of six continuous months. If after six months vehicles are not re-exported they must be taken off the road that is, number plates must be handed in to the appropriate Customs office for at least six months but not more than twelve months.

*Vehicles which have been taken off the road, the following year cannot be driven if the person with the right to drive has been out of Greece for less than 185 days.

##March 2014 - Recent experience of exporting a car from UK and importing into Greece: Greek Embassy - Key Paperwork Requirements

- Council tax receipts, Utility Payment Receipts (electricity, water etc) and P45 & P60's all for the past 3 years
- valid UK driving license
- V5 for the car going to end up in Greece
The above papers from time of submission to getting them returned by post duly processed - takes one week. When you get to Crete/Greece it is best to get a Greek, someone who is a specialist in importing cars to Greece to complete the paperwork - - its awesome.
They and you have to go to the Greek local Customs office together. The papers needed:
- Deeds to your Greek house (or rental agreement if renting), your Greek tax number and contact address. The Customs give you 30 days from arriving in Greece to finalize the papers to avoid paying any tax. Don't leave it to the last minute to avoid overshooting the deadline. The date the papers are signed off has to be within the 30 days! You then have the follow through, a technical inspection,
- MOT test depending on age of the vehicle, then back to obtain the plates (registration) and receive the car's log book. Take the log book to the local Tax Office to get the car registered. (Don't forget vehicle tax runs Jan 1- Dec 31 each year).
If you complete everything it will cost you around 500-800 euros total that includes UK and Greece. In this example about 200 Euros went to the Greek import specialist. Don't try to skimp on this, because you are not Greek. Even Greeks coming back to live in the country have troubles trying to cope with their own with the bureaucracy.

Remember that GR is the country symbol for Greek registered cars when driven abroad. All new cars carry the EU symbol on the car registration number plate at the time of first time car registration.

That sets out the procedures for importation of a car into Greece by Brits who are likely to be settling down in Greece but the same can be applied to other EU countries and their nationals moving to Greece. Remember that things in Greece are done the "Greek way". Please leave your UK values in the UK as most often the "British way" does not apply in Greece. especially Crete.