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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've just taken delivery so perhaps now's the time to share some information while it's fresh in my mind; for background I'm a motor racer and used an ex-ParcelForce Iveco van for 10 years; the previous owners had it converted to a double-bed-over-garage arrangement, and it served us well, towing the race car all over Europe, so we had a very good idea of what layout we wanted.
Off we went to the NEC in the autumn, armed with a spec divided into must-haves and nice-to-haves, to see what was on offer. We were beginning to wonder if our ideal existed until we hit the Hymer stand late in the afternoon and discovered Carado, who we hadn't heard of before; the T334 seemed to fit the bill perfectly so we picked up a dealer list, brochure and spec sheet. Back at home I explored the Hymer German website and learned all about the options list and Euro (non-UK) prices.

A week or so later we called in at one of the four UK dealers where we were told:
- standard UK spec incorporates a lot of factory options whether you want them or not
- the lead time on an order was around 7 to 8 months
- there's an 'On The Road' charge of £2000 which couldn't be explained / justified
- with a few vital extras (towbar, awning, bike rack, tracker) the price was a shade under £50k.

Given that the Europe basic list price is only £32k it seemed that this was another case of 'rip-off Britain' so I spent a quiet evening researching all I could find on the 'net about private importing. It didn't sound complicated so my next port of call was the dealer list on the Hymer website; I searched within 150 km of Calais and then checked out the dealers' own websites; liked the look and sound of Campirama in Kortrijk, just across the Belgian border from Lille. So one Sunday evening I emailed a request for a quote - by 10.30 on the Monday morning I had a fully detailed price quotation - which included an unrequested 12% discount.

Further emails and a phone call established that they spoke excellent English (along with French, Dutch and German), had sold to the UK a number of times and were familiar with the process. A trip was booked and we spent a very useful day over there just before Christmas. It transpired they had a T334 to our basic layout in stock; it had the double bed over garage layout, which apparently is not what the continentals want right now and was proving hard to shift, hence they were keen to cut a deal. It had all the options we needed except an oven and a towbar, both of which they would fit - and the price offered was €40k ex-VAT, a complete bargain! I'd read that buying from Germany you have to pay their VAT, then UK VAT on import, then claim the German VAT back. Not so in Belgium, they sell ex-VAT and we just pay UK VAT once we have it here.

A collection date was agreed in early February and that gave me plenty of time to arrange insurance on the VIN number through Suregard, book a one-way ferry, order an Import Pack from DVLA, make contact with the local Fiat MH dealer, read up on VCA, and lastly order a speedo dial from Lockwoods. Collection itself was straightforward; Eurostar to Lille, a hotel near the station, and the dealer picked us up the following morning. A thorough handover of the van itself, final paperwork handed over (receipt, European Conformance certificate and Certificate of Newness are the vital ones), Belgian trade plates fitted, we were introduced to our driver and off we all went to Calais.
Once home I logged onto HMRC, loaded the vehicle details into the NOVA system, waited a couple of days for the Assessment to come through and paid the VAT by debit card. NOVA uses the same HMRC entry point as doing your Income Tax return so couldn't be more straightforward really.

The following day I had a Tracker fitted, and the same guy also fitted the replacement dual-units speedo dial as he had the dash out at the time. Next up it was dropped off at the Fiat dealer for the UK-spec headlights to be fitted and the rear foglight to be swapped to the offside. The dealer produced a statement of work done, exactly per the VCA Guidance notes. I sent the paperwork off to VCA on a Monday and received the IVA certificate on Thursday of the same week.

Now we are ready for UK registration; again all the right forms have been completed and various copies sent off to DVLA; once the V5 comes we'll be good to go. I've ended up saving more than £10k by the way.
 

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l love it when people take the initiative, rather than get ripped off. Can we ask what the final cost saving was.

cabby
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
l love it when people take the initiative, rather than get ripped off. Can we ask what the final cost saving was.cabby
£10.1k under UK list and £6.1k under the best price I was offfered here.
 

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Well done david! Nice that you realised UK dealers operate a ringed exploitive cartel. They don't call the UK treasure island for nothing! I opted out of it 20 years ago and have imported nine, and helped many with the process
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Nice one, you should copy this post to all the dealers.
Unfortunately I suspect they don't give a monkey's. When I was with a UK dealer and trying for discount I said 'tell me why I shouldn't import one myself and save some money'. The reply was "warranty for a start - we wouldn't touch it with a bargepole." My wife was so incensed at their attitude that it brought her fully onside in support of my plan to import.
I should add that I budgetted at a rate of €1.25, I bought my euros at an average of 1.288 in early January and thought we were lucky. The rate is now 1.37 and I could have saved a further £1700 !
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I thought the warranty on Hymers was European. Carado are Hymer, so in theory no problem. It may be worth contacting Carado and asking about this.
yes and yes, of course; 'in theory'. But the 4 UK dealers are widely scattered, and going back to the Belgian supplier will be a pleasure as they are such outstandingly good people to deal with. Also they will do the annual habitation check FOC. Any excuse to cross the channel and take a few extra days in more pleasant surroundings than the UK.
 
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The Hymer / Carado warranty is valid at any uk or any european dealership - BUT - the problem i experienced was when i tried getting some warranty work done -I got a flat refusal - Hymer were not impressed and the well known "New to Hymer" dealer denied any responsibility.
If you have issues contact the relevant factory service centre and pay them a visit - they are always helpful and you sometimes find they do other unrelsted stuff FOC as well.
Happy Travels
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Mission complete.

The V5 arrived today, just 8 working days after i sent the pack off to Swansea, I call that excellent service. The bonus is that the VED is cheaper at 3850 than 3500. I'd worked that out from the tables but couldn't somehow believe it was true.
The only dampener is that if I imported today rather than 2 months ago I'd save a further £2700 on the exchange rate (currenlty over 1.40) but I'm not grumbling as I got an excellent deal.
 

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Blimey, that was quick!! Well done, its good to see that we don't have to be reliant on importers, even with the unfair advantages they seem to have regarding insurance etc.

Question: How much of the V55 did you fill in? I'm struggling with the COC being in French/German, despite having lived in Germany for some time! There are quite a few boxes that I can't find any information for on the COC.
Cheers
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Blimey, that was quick!! Well done, its good to see that we don't have to be reliant on importers, even with the unfair advantages they seem to have regarding insurance etc.

Question: How much of the V55 did you fill in? I'm struggling with the COC being in French/German, despite having lived in Germany for some time! There are quite a few boxes that I can't find any information for on the COC.
Cheers
Everything bar maybe 4 or 5 optional ones that I couldn't get my head around. PM me - glad to help with specifics.
 
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Perhaps this is a silly question for those who import from abroad, but how does one pay for these vans? Do you just make funds available in your UK bank account, present the debit card abroad and the funds go through on that day at the current exchange rate at that time or is there some other method?
Secondly, when one sees vans for sale on the Campirama site, what is the inclusive vat rate in that country.
Thank you :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Paying:
when we went over and agreed the deal I left 2000 euros in cash as deposit.
The balance I paid in 2 chunks to suit me but it could have been one transaction, all the dealer wants is cleared funds in their account at least 1 day before you go to collect the van.
I used an FX broker (currencyfair.com but there are several to choose from). You transfer sterling from your bank to your FX account, buy the euros, then transfer from your FX account to the Dealer's bank account. All done online and takes about 15 minutes work, about 3 days end to end. I completed payment a week before planned handover day to make sure there were no last-minute hitches.
VAT:
if you type 'current vat rate in belgium' into google it tells you it's 21% !
 
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