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My wife will be spending part of her sabbatical in the south of France, most likely near Marseilles. I will be accompanying her for at least two months. We will be renting a house.

I am considering buying a used car (specifically, a Mazda Miata) to enjoy driving in the countryside. I've been to Provence, Nice, Normandy and Paris before, so I know how enjoyable the roads can be to drive on in France (with the exception of Paris, of course :))

My plan would be to buy the car, drive it and then export it from France to Canada.

Although this is not, strictly speaking, an "ex-pat" question, I hope to be an ex-pat in France someday.

I've read other posts about permanent residents from other countries purchasing a car in France, or importing a car from another country, but nothing about purchasing a car for temporary use in France, then exporting it.

Could anyone please tell me:

- would the rental agreement for the house qualify as proof of being in the country on a temporary basis? Would it even be needed to show the licensing authorities?

- is it possible to have a French license plate registration on a temporary basis?

- are there any other issues that I should be aware of?

I realize I will have to notify my insurance company about the car purchase and plan ahead of time and will have to make my own arrangements for shipping, but any tips anyone can provide about shipping would be welcome too.

I also realize it may not make economic sense to do this, but I'm thinking here of the fun quotient, not the economics.

I know also that there are "buy new, export home" programs offered by the European car dealers, but I have my mind set on a Miata. Also, an older model, not a newer model. Specifically, a 1994 - 1997 Miata, although I would take an newer one if the price was right. I've looked for used Miatas in France and there are cars for sale for Euro 5k - 10k. Quite competitive with US and Canadian prices.
 

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There is a way for expats to register a car temporarily - though it occurs to me that I haven't seen as many "expat plates" around as I used to. Basically, the idea is that you can buy a car free of the VAT (normally applies to a new car, I suspect), and that you must export it within an agreed upon period - up to one year, I think it is. The plates you get have a special format and include the date by which the vehicle has to leave the country.

Unfortunately, I don't see anything about the temporary plates in a quick survey of the Service Public site. It's possible that, with the new format plates, they no longer do the "expat plates" but it's worth asking.

Do take a look, however, at the costs and pitfalls of importing your car to Canada. The vehicles aren't always compatible with the safety requirements of the other country, even when made by a "foreign" manufacturer.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Bev for your reply. I'll see if I can't find out more about the "ex-pat plates" through some intrepid Google searching.

Importing a car into Canada isn't too difficult, especially if the car is over 15 years old (different rules apply in this case). I've brought two vehicles into Canada from the U.S. and both were fairly smooth transactions.

But dealing with the French bureaucracy (I've heard stories!) worries me more. :)
 

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There is a way for expats to register a car temporarily - though it occurs to me that I haven't seen as many "expat plates" around as I used to. Basically, the idea is that you can buy a car free of the VAT (normally applies to a new car, I suspect), and that you must export it within an agreed upon period - up to one year, I think it is. The plates you get have a special format and include the date by which the vehicle has to leave the country...
At one time, you'd see ads on TV for BMWs or Mercedes that could be purchased in one's home country, picked up & driven in Europe for up to 3 months (handily matching the 90 day visa with passport), and then dropped at one of several cities for shipment by boat to the US or Canada. These cars would not have been set up for Europe. They would be set up for the country to which they'd be exported eventually. The license plates would be managed by the car company in the country where you picked up the car. Renault and Peugeot may have programs of this type, as well. Perhaps Mazda. It would be worth checking.

If a new car isn't possible, I recommend that you check with whatever agency regulates the importation of cars into Canada before you buy a car in France to make sure that French spec cars can be imported into Canada without retrofitting. If not, the retrofitting can be very costly.

Best of luck.

Ray
 
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