Legal, at last!

July 23, 2008

After two years, two months and one day the car finally has legal, legitimate Cypriot number plates.

Those of you with long memories may recall that we bought a new, VAT-free, car in England a month before we left. The VAT-free status was permitted as we intended to remove the car from the country within two months. The payback was that we would, ultimately, need to pay VAT in Cyprus once the car was registered.

Meanwhile the car was a corner-stone of Op Keo, our ‘leaving England’ plan. Our intention was to spend three weeks driving to Cyprus and stopping at all of the places in Europe that we’d always wanted to see. We did just that and had an absolutely wonderful time – well, apart from the night that we accidentally booked into a German Sanatorium.

Anyway, once we arrived in Cyprus our carefully crafted plan for importing the car fell apart. Arriving on hot and sunny Friday afternoon our case was considered to be too complex and the car was impounded, The following Monday we were allowed to remove it from Limassol and place it in a bonded warehouse in Larnaca to begin the official import process.

To assist we employed a local agent with the intention that she, rather than us, would travel to Nicosia on a periodic basis to progress our claim. Over the course of the last two years she has liaised with officials, produced copies of documents and apparently argued our case.

In truth we have to wonder if she has been a help or a hindrance. Yes, her language skills and knowledge of the process have been helpful, but in reality her ability to follow-up on any actions have been sadly lacking. Today, when we finally took delivery of the new number plates we discovered that she applied for them in late May and has been driving around with them in her car since then.

Nevertheless, the process is now done. The car is legal, she has shiny new plates and (all being well) we need never deal with the importation department in Nicosia ever again. In the final analysis we probably didn’t save a huge amount of money. The VAT we paid was at 15% rather than at 17.5% but we paid some registration fees and a (very small) amount of money to the agent. But, buying in England gave us a wonderful new car to allow us to drive here and fulfill that dream.

On that note, just one anecdote to give a flavour of the way things work here.

After the car had been moved to the bonded warehouse in Larnaca we were required to attend the local customs office to complete paperwork and, hopefully, give us temporary rights to drive the car. One of the office assistants at the bonded warehouse was tasked with accompanying us to the customs office to oversee the process. It occurred to her that once she had dealt with us she had another case, in another direction, to deal with and that it would therefore make sense to take two cars. Apart from her car the only other available vehicle was our impounded car.

“Ahhh, you should follow me in your car. But make sure you don’t park near to the office windows as we don’t want the import officer to see the car. After all, it is supposed to be in the warehouse still! ”

Life may be simpler now that the car is legal :-)


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