Top tips for buying or running a car abroad

Posted on July 13, 2016 by Torfx
Couple driving a car

If you’re moving overseas, taking your car with you can make life much easier. Public transport can be difficult enough to navigate in your own country, so when you mix getting to grips with completely different systems and a foreign language, things get complicated. Having a car gives you the freedom to go where you want and when, but there are some important things to bear in mind before you start cruising down Spain’s sunny streets.

Here’s are some key points to remember when thinking about taking your car overseas or buying one when you get to your new home.

How to save money when buying a car overseas

If you’ve decided to abandon your previous run-around and invest in a new car once living abroad, it’s likely that you’ll spend some time shopping around to get the best deal. But are you aware you can also shop around with exchange rates? Taking the time to do so could see you enjoy significant savings. The amount of Pounds you need to transfer in order to make your purchase could change significantly depending upon which foreign exchange (or ‘forex’) provider you choose. For instance, using a bank could potentially make your currency transfer more expensive than using a reputable currency broker as they tend to work on different margins, offering customers a less competitive rate. They may also charge fees on the transaction, making it even more costly. Some currency brokers work on a fee-free basis and can get you a highly competitive rate, making your car purchase more effective. Take some time to talk to different forex specialists and see what kind of rates they are offering.

Will I need a new driving licence?

As it stands, a driving licence from Great Britain or Northern Ireland will allow you to drive in all EU countries as well as members of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. The EEA encompasses Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway on top of the all the EU member states. Of course, this may change in light of the UK’s decision to leave the EU, but regulations are unlikely to change for some time yet. Outside of the European Union, EEA or Switzerland, you may need an International Driving Permit, which you can get for a small fee from the AA, RAC or Post Office. But if you intend to live overseas permanently you’ll probably find it easier to get a local driving licence anyway. In the US, for example, there is a limit to how long you can use your UK licence before you are required to get a US permit.


Mature couple enjoying sunset while standing next to car

What kind of car insurance will I need?

The first thing to do is check with your car insurance provider and discover what, if any, coverage your policy already provides for driving overseas. Many insurance policies will already offer cover for driving in Europe, or you can usually add additional coverage for a small premium. There is often a limit on the number of days you can be abroad per year, however, so this may only suit you if you are planning on splitting your time. You may also want to look into getting a Green Card; this is proof that you’re insured to the minimum acceptable standard and is valid in 47 countries, including the EU and EEA. You can also get tailored insurance or talk to insurers in your intended country of residence.

Will I still have to pay UK car tax?

Whether you’re required to pay car tax will depend upon whether your stay abroad is temporary or permanent. You will need to notify the DVLA if you are intending to move overseas permanently and are taking your car with you, which is known as a ‘permanent export’. You may be entitled to a refund on some or all of your vehicle tax. If you are heading to an EU country on a temporary basis, you can continue paying tax in the UK as normal, as long as you are not overseas for more than six months. Any longer and you will need to register your vehicle in your new country and pay the appropriate taxes.

As with many aspects of travelling or living abroad, preparation is key. A little research and planning beforehand can make the whole process much more straight forward.

by Torfx

TorFX is a UK-based international money transfer provider that processes in excess of £3 billion in foreign exchange and international payments a year. The company also offers expert guidance including top tips and useful information on a range of subjects such as visas, employment, pensions and property purchases.