Please sign in to post.

Shipping car for long stay

We are planning to spend 2022 in Europe as a family of four (already aware of visa requirements and limitations). We will be staying a month at a time in each location, split between the UK/Ireland and Schengen countries. We will want the flexibility of a car in many, if not most, of the places we are planning to see.
I am wondering if anyone has experience shipping a car over from the USA. I know shipping costs can be manageable for us, but I'm having a harder time finding information on the custom charges and VAT I've seen mentioned on sites. I see the tax rates/percentages, but I'm wondering if there are situations in which those don't apply or if anyone has experience with this sort of situation. Our hope was to take our Tesla over, but if the taxes are going to be 30% of the value of the car between customs and VAT, obviously that's not going to be worth it. Just want to make sure I understand. I'd be grateful for anyone's knowledge!

Posted by
6199 posts

Do a search on this site for 'shipping a car to Europe'. There have been several posts on this subject and you might pick up some good information.

Posted by
1564 posts

In short: As a tourist you are allowed to bring your own car for a temporary visit without paying VAT or custom duty. But make sure your stay is within what is considered temporary. If not, it will get very expensive.

Posted by
7 posts

Hi Badger,
Thanks for your reply. I've seen a couple of mentions of this, but I haven't been able to find anything definite on the topic, and most of what I've seen says 6 consecutive months is the limit. If you know where I might find more information, I'd be very grateful!
Thanks again!

Posted by
2984 posts

You should also consider the awkwardness of driving a car with right side steering on the left side of the road in the UK and Ireland. Just a thought.

Posted by
4335 posts

Due to the Schengen rules, presumably more than half your year will be spent in the U.K./Ireland, when you would be driving a left hand drive car on the wrong side of the road.

Do USA Tesla’s have CCS charging, which is pretty much standard across Europe ? My other half thought that US models use a different socket, in which case charging could be problematic.

Posted by
3504 posts

While I can't help with the questions asked, my daughter lived in Europe for 15 years and found it less expensive to purchase cars that were 2-3 years old in good condition. ( she had shipped her 1st vehicle).

Have you checked into a leased vehicle? Try Auto Europe, US company. They may be able to answer the questions below.
Insurance for a year is probably worth a check as is location & # of electric vehicle charging stations in the countries you plan to visit.

Posted by
1564 posts

Thanks for your reply. I've seen a couple of mentions of this, but I
haven't been able to find anything definite on the topic, and most of
what I've seen says 6 consecutive months is the limit. If you know
where I might find more information, I'd be very grateful!

I've heard 6 months as well, but I have never dived further into the subject. Just check if that is 6 months in the EU or individual countries, a good place to start is the website of the customs authority in the countries you plan to visit. If you exceed the time limit it is considered an import and you would not only have to pay VAT and other fees, but also register the car in Europe and hence have if modified to European standards.

Just remember to bring adapters to be able to charge the car in Europe.

Posted by
7 posts

Yes, our car is from the US, with the driver on the left. Certainly not ideal when so much of our time will be in the UK! I've driven in the UK a fair amount, but it was in a UK car, so I am wary of driving a US car there. I'm feeling more and more that shipping isn't going to be worth the hassle and cost.
As for sockets, I can imagine that Teslas in Europe may well have a different socket. I imagine there are converters out there, though.
I'll be looking further into leasing options.
If anyone else has any wisdom to add, I'll gladly take it!

Posted by
329 posts

Maybe check with a shipping company? They should know what paperwork would be needed and the cost. As the UK isn't part of the EU anymore you will be importing the car twice, I think. Have you considered long term renting or short term leasing? Some rental companies have good deals for month long rentals. Also will there be places to plug the car in? What about places for repairs if needed?

If you check into renting call or email the company. Website quotes usually don't take everything into account and give you a higher price.

Posted by
630 posts

Am guessing here, but i would be surprised if there were plug convertors for cars as so few people ship their cars between Europe and US.

Posted by
7 posts

I know there are quite a number of Tesla service centers located all over Europe, so I'm not too concerned with that. I did look into the adaptor, as well, and there is indeed an adaptor from the normal US one to CCS.
If I can find out more about whether the general 6 month rule is country-specific or an EU rule (as in, are we only allowed 6 months total in the EU vs 6 months in France, 6 months in Spain, etc), it may make a big difference, since we could ship our car both ways for $5000 and save a fortune on gas. Obviously, it doesn't change that we would be driving a left driver car in the UK, which I'll have to look into more. I know it's done, but it's not ideal by any means.

Posted by
1564 posts

I'm feeling more and more that shipping isn't going to be worth the
hassle and cost.

Normally I'd probably say that it is a bad idea. But for you, I think it might be worth considering.

Posted by
17858 posts

Count your days very, very carefully. It's 90 days (not 3 months) within any 180 days in the Schengen Zone, and both arrival and departure day count. You have to stay out of Schengen for 90 full days in order to have 90 + 90 in the Schengen area. That means you must leave no later than Day 90 and return no earlier than Day 181.

Posted by
7 posts

Yes, I've dealt with the tourist visa requirements a couple of times before, so we will be very careful about the time constraints. I don't want to break any laws or anything. Definitely planning to get my ducks in a row so we can avoid as many issues as possible.

Posted by
12063 posts

I think in the long run it’s cheaper rent a car on a long term lease. I think the max is 6 months, but you can have two leased cars if you stay longer. With a leased car you have an insured car, with service provided if something breaks down, and basically you don’t have to deal with the hassle of ownership with associated costs and bureaucratic requirements related to purchase, registration, and sale when you leave. Shipping a car is not free, the shipping across the Ocean costs over $1000 each way. From New York, assuming you live on the East Coast. If you live on the West Coast you can ship from Long Beach for maybe 300/400 dollars more.. The turn around time is about 2 to 3 weeks. My ex boss used to buy his cars in Germany and ship them to Long Beach (he lived in LA). He saved enough on the purchase price to make it worthwhile and before the shipping he would use the car for a month long vacation in Europe. In your case I don’t think it would be worthwhile. Also I’m not sure I would take a Tesla. Tesla charging stations are not as ubiquitous in Europe as they are here in California. In Italy for example there are very few and far between and usually in some hotels only.

Posted by
7 posts

It may be cheaper to lease or rent longterm. I certainly haven't ruled it out! I've looked into leasing, and I'm finding the rate for 12 months to be around $6000 on the cheap end (from a fairly cursory search). That is certainly doable for us, but gas prices make that number significantly higher. I've looked at the Tesla trip planner to ensure we can get from place to place on a charge, and though there are some dead spots in countries we hope to stay in, we would plan around that and make certain our base is near a supercharger.
However, if I discover that the 6 month rule for temporary imports is an EU timeline rather than a country-specific timeline, it puts the kabosh on shipping over the car anyway, so that's what I'm hoping to find out now. It'd just be nice to know if it's even an option, should we decide it's worth the hassle!
Insurance is something I need to look into, as well, since the cost of it could be prohibitive, in which case, we will stick with leasing/renting.
It's very kind of everyone to weigh in with your thoughts and knowledge.

Posted by
7184 posts

My first reaction was to ship a beat up but reliable car, not a car that would attract (unwanted) attention, require private parking, is high maintenance to find charging stations, and will take a beating. Friends shipped their old Civic to Saudi Arabia, used it for 3 years, drove it to England and shipped it back to the US.

Posted by
7 posts

I think the main benefit of taking the Tesla is to offset the cost of fuel, so taking a car that requires fuel kind of defeats that purpose, it seems. But I do take your point about the car attracting attention, and certainly it's limiting in many ways—finding superchargers, having to rent AirBnBs with parking places, and having to drive rather than fly from location to location, to name a few things.

Posted by
6970 posts

You may want to check on power rates. They are likely to be double ( or more) what they are in the US. Your savings may not be comparable to what they are here.

Posted by
1582 posts

Your best bet as others have stated is long term lease of a car. $6000 for a year sounds like outstanding value to me, $16/day is unbeatable, even at twice the price it would be worth it. Gas or diesel means not having to obsess about finding charging stations or B&Bs that will allow charging, which the vast majority don't. For example in "green-friendly" Paris, there are 3,976 properties on booking.com, the "electric vehicle charging station" amenity shows up on 140. Budapest, there are 2,125 properties, 177 with charging. Sofia has 855 properties, 19 have electric charging stations. Smaller towns are going to be problematic.

This will also help address the handedness issues between the continental Europe and UK, rent the correct hand car in the correct country.

In terms of attracting attention not sure what that means, that is not a real concern. Certain Americans have this weird obsession that everyone is targeting them or cares about them or something, I don't really understand the thought process so its hard for me to unpack, but trust me nobody cares.

Posted by
12063 posts

I also question the need to have a car full time, owned or leased.
You said you are going to stay in a different location every month.
Now, let’s assume you choose to rent an apartment in Paris (or Rome, or London, or Barcelona, or Florence, whatever) for a month or less. Do you need to have a car full time in those circumstances? You might need a car occasionally if you decide to spend a week roaming around the countryside amd the small towns, but certainly not while you are in those cities, which are very car unfriendly. Unless you plan to rent AirBnB properties outside of cities, you are better off having no car, and renting on short term rentals for the times you need. I would have a car for the entire period on a 6 month lease only if planning to live in rural areas where having a car is a necessity.
Renting when necessary and relying on public transportation when not needed (I.e. while staying in cities) would be infinitely cheaper than shipping a Tesla because of fuel costs. Parking costs alone will exceed your fuel savings. Besides distances in Europe tend to be short from place to place. How much do you think you are going to spend on fuel? I can guarantee you that fuel is the least of my budget concerns when I travel to Europe. It’s not the most important budget item. Accommodations and airfare to get there are the main components of your travel budget.

Posted by
24613 posts

you undoubtedly have a good list of Tesla charging points - I don't own a Tesla - but I do see charging points as I drive around. It is very very rare for a charging point to have a Tesla charger. Most are 2 to 4 plugs of medium speed non-Tesla. I saw an article the other day saying that most public charging points are between 3 and 4 times as expensive per unit as home-driveway charging.

Just for comparison - my 3 year old Honda Civic gets between 400 and 600 miles per tank of 40 to 45 litres of diesel.

Diesel is considerably less per litre in most continental countries and about £00.03 per litre more in the UK. Diesel is available throughout Europe - wherever you can get petrol there will also be pumps for diesel.

Posted by
7184 posts

Very funny Ufkak. This "certain American with a weird obsession" also happens to be a French citizen and resident. I've seen cars in Paris keyed for being an Alfa or similar. Class resentments. We've also had car break-in from time to time, like anywhere else. And these will all be new neighborhoods for keysmm.

By the way, any dings, broken locks, paint scratches, etc are all insured with the lease.

I just read Roberto's post and agree about seeing how often you'll even need a car before commiting to even a lease. You can always contact AutoEurope or Renault USA even from Europe to set one up. You just need a US passport and US $. They need 3 weeks lead time.

Posted by
1582 posts

Sorry Bets, I honestly did not even check the posters' name, wasn't trying to pick on you. There are a lot of topics I see on here - what should I wear, should I speak english in public, etc where the operating assumption is that everyone knows you are American and out to get you or something and my point is that in general nobody cares. Also agree with your last statement - cars in cities get banged up / dinged parking etc, the lease takes care of that too, whereas the Tesla needs to be repainted / repaired at owners cost.

Posted by
4478 posts

I don’t think anyone has mentioned insurance. Before you go too far, check to see if your insurance carrier can even cover your car overseas and what the price would be.