When you finally take the decision to move abroad, either for work or because you just want to live in the sun and enjoy a different lifestyle, the first things that cross your mind are property, moving, meeting new people and, if necessary, finding a job.


You might not think about your car until shortly before you pack up and go. But you need to sort out what youll do with it well in advance, because either you need to sell it, or be sure its suitable for life in a new country.

Even if youre moving to France, a short hop across the English Channel, either on a ferry on top of it or with the car on the Eurotunnel underneath it, theres a lot to consider about the merits or otherwise of taking your trusty motor with you.

In this article, well look at the things that will force a decision one way or another, as well as some items you may not have considered that could influence your choice before living abroad.


Do you own your car?

Now, were not suggesting youve pinched it, but perhaps you have it on a personal lease deal or some similar finance package? If so, its likely that theres a clause restricting you from moving abroad with the vehicle.

In the case of lease cars, for example, these are often tied in with dealership service schedules. Clearly, you cant drive back to the UK to visit the dealer for a check-up.

If you have financed your car privately, its unlikely to matter if you take it abroad. Check with your finance company for peace of mind.


Is your car in good condition?

If you do own your car outright, perhaps its got a few years under the bonnet (this is a polite way of saying it might be an old banger). You need to ask yourself if its up to a new life abroad, for two reasons:

  1. Can you trust it to get you to France, Spain or Portugal, or wherever it is you are moving to? Imagine the stress of spluttering to a halt on the French motorways and breaking down with half your life belongings piled in the back? Even if it gets you there, how certain will you be about its performance in the coming months and years? You wont know the local mechanics, and there may not be a dealership for your make of car for miles around.
  2. All countries have different rules about things like emissions and other compulsory safety features on vehicles. Will your car need to be modified at all? And if so, is that expense worth it?

If you have a relatively new car in good condition, which you own outright, it might make sense to take it with you because transport will be one less thing to worry about when you finally move.


Consider the inconvenience of a right-hand drive car

As you know, every foreign country drives on the wrong side of the road. This has unexpected problems if youre driving abroad in a right-hand drive car. The first time youll likely come across this issue, other than the initial weirdness of it, is when you pull out to overtake – and you cant see whats coming.

Secondly, when you pull up at one of the many toll booths on the main French roads, youre on the wrong side and generally must get out of the car and walk around to the booth to pay the money. This is a problem repeated if you try and use a drive-thru restaurant.

These things may be something of a novelty if youre driving abroad in your car on holiday, but theyd soon become an annoyance if youre moving abroad permanently.

Getting a left-hand drive local car obviously gets around these issues, plus youll get to purchase it from a garage close to your home, where you can forge a relationship for servicing, repairs and the like.


Sort out your car insurance

Whether you decide to buy or sell your beloved car, you must sort out the car insurance.


Local driving rules and taxes

No matter what you eventually decide to do, buy abroad or take your own car with you, you must investigate what the local taxes and laws stipulate.

Have you looked at what the mainland Europe equivalents are for your annual vehicle tax? Is it something you can pay monthly or do you need to pay each year as a lump sum?

And what about the local versions of the MOT certificate? This will vary from country to country, and not all places waive this test for cars aged three years and under as the UK does.


Leave yourself time to put your plan in place

If youve taken the life-changing decision that youre moving abroad to live, then working out what you plan to do with your car in plenty of time is another way of reducing the worry when moving day comes.



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