By Steven Roberts…..
When we planned our move out here, my wife and I talked about our wish to bring a lot of possessions with us, and how we would need a car when we got here. I was reluctant to get rid of the Toyota Prius I had owned virtually from new.
Its second hand value in England was not high, and I would have to buy a car when we got here anyway. Most of the second hand cars we’ve seen in Cyprus have obviously been well used for holiday rentals, so despite the import duty, we thought the ‘devil we knew’ was a safer bet. Driving the car here also meant we could bring our computer, radios, clothes and a load of books with us. It also meant we could have an interesting touring holiday driving across the continent and through Turkey.
We did have some concerns about how we would navigate the bureaucratic minefield that bringing a car over here would entail, especially as neither of us speaks Turkish (yet!) but help was at hand. I rang Carol Blackwell-Gibbs who works for Can Sigorta (who insure our apartment). She arranged for our car to be insured from the day we were due to arrive in North Cyprus, this was far cheaper than buying insurance at the port. I wanted fully comprehensive cover, but only about 50% of cars in the TRNC are insured this way, and companies often insist on a vehicle inspection first. No matter, I could get third party cover, and upgrade it later.
At the port we went through passport control, and then headed for the customs post thinking that was it. No chance! We got sent back to the insurance booth to have the insurance checked, and then having got the right stamp went through Customs. They gave me an import permit for the car for one month, and told me I’d have to go to the office in Nicosia to get this extended.
I made an appointment to go to Can Sigorta’s office, and they agreed to help me with the importation process. They inspected the car, and accepted it for comprehensive cover on payment of the additional premium. They introduced me to Farouk, who works for them as a ‘runner’ and it was arranged that I would follow him around the city to get the various forms completed. So he got on his motor scooter, and we followed him in the Prius.
First stop was the Police station where he got a print out of all my arrivals and departures into the TRNC going back many years. We then followed him to the vehicle inspection office zig zagging via his shortcuts through the north of the City and across the main Fazil Kuchuk Boulevard. At the inspection office the car was put on a weighbridge, the log book examined and a piece of paper obtained.
Then more ‘follow the scooter’ as we headed for the Customs office. Walking into that was like entering a time warp for me, you see I used to work for HM Customs and Excise in England, and the office in Nicosia reminded me of how things used to be in England prior to the 1992 single market – lots of stamping and moving of paper!
Anyway when we got there animated conversations in Turkish took place, and eventually the officer said “road tax?” Well I didn’t have any evidence of this for two reasons, firstly the UK abolished the tax disc at the end of 2014, and secondly as the Toyota Prius is a hybrid vehicle it was exempt from UK road tax anyway. All very logical, but of course I had no proof that I wasn’t just a tax dodger. Further discussions in Turkish ensued, the upshot of which was that I’d have to get TRNC road tax for the car (not unreasonable as I’m driving on TRNC roads). They added a few days onto my import permit, but as time was running out, I was informed I would have to come back another day to finish the process.
So a few days later it was back to Nicosia for more sightseeing whilst following a scooter. I don’t know quite what the first stop was, but it was near the bus station, and involved buying of a few stamps, signing a piece of paper and acquiring a rubber stamp on said document. With this we were able to go to the car tax office. As with the previous call, Farouk seemed to know just about everyone who worked there, so we got our ticket from the machine and waited our turn. After the usual presentation of passport, log book, and insurance, they decided they needed photocopies. So with the charge of 1TL per sheet these were duly produced on a 30 year old photocopier in the back office. Back to the front office, and after handing over 600 TL, I had road tax….so back to Customs we went.
More following the scooter, more waiting, more presentation of documents, but we came out of there with the necessary paperwork, and the car is now legally imported for six months. I can get this extended for another six months if I re-apply, but after that have to re-register the car in the TRNC, and pay the import duty.
There is quite a lot on various websites about the rules on importing a car, but not all of it is up to date or accurate. You can import a car up to three years old; you can also import an older car if you can prove continuous ownership for five years.
The best advice I would give is make sure you can have someone with you who speaks Turkish and knows where the various government offices are in Nicosia (and when they open and close). Can Sigorta did all this for me at no charge, even though there was nothing in it for them. So if you’re thinking about driving a car over here I would recommend you speak to Carol Blackwell-Gibbs first, get your insurance cover, and get her to book a bit of Farouk’s time for you. Carol can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can ring Emete, her PA at Can Sigorta on 0542 880 7007.