Dealing with the import process yourself

Sometimes, the expert just doesn’t know better. That was very true in my case. The import company who handled my car imported it under temporary tourist status, duty-free. However, it should have been under permanent status. When I found out that the custom documents that I have are not the right one for registering my car in Italy, I requested the right documents from the import agent, and was told that I have to pay both the value added tax and custom duty.

Despite of my insistence on the facts that I am qualified to be exempt from such, they insisted otherwise. That drove me to spend hours looking for the official rules on the Italian custom’s web site and when I finally found it and emailed to the import agent, I had no more response from them.

Eventually, I took it upon myself to deal with the custom office. I drove my car there with all the documents I had regarding my car and spend about three hours there. Finally, I received the right document and paid zero in tax. The more incredible thing is that although I was legally in the country, I have not received my official resident permit paper yet, still, for the purpose of the importation, I could accomplish this task. To give credit where it is due, the custom official who handled my request was a competent, understanding and kind person who really wanted to help me. It is the best experience that I had so far dealing with bureaucracy in the entire process of trying to nationalize my car. I wish more bureaucrats were like him.

The rules

If there is any doubt, the regulation clearly states that eligible motor cars (including motorcycle) and personal goods are exempt from both IVA (sales tax or value added tax) and custom duty according to European Community regulation n. 913/83 from Counsel of March 28, 1983 and the successive modified article 2/10 and European Community directive 83/181/CEE from Counsel of March 28, 1983; and Italian national regulation of the Minister’s decree from December 5, 1997, n. 489 article 3.

To be eligible, one has to meet just few conditions:

1.       The owner or his family has lived outside the European Community for at least twelve (12) months consecutively.

2.       The goods have been in possession of the owner and were used in the previous residence for a period of at least six months prior to the date of transfer

3.       The goods are to used in the same way (e.g. non-commercial) in the place of new residence.

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