Exporting American muscle car to Hungary

Hello All,

I am Sergio from Mexico and I will moving to Hungary in the next 6-8 weeks and I was wondering how feasible is to take an American car with me, please would you help me to know how difficult is the testing and registration process there? The car I'm thinking is a Corvette 2017, V8 6.2lts and 460hp.

In 2015 I moved to the UK and took with me a Shelby GT500 2011, a professional company ("ship my car" I think) took care of the lights conversion, which was adding side indicators, orange rear indicator, fog light, 2 reverse lights because it had 4 but no change to the headlamps even if they were HID, I've read they need a "washer" in the bumper. Also there were no complains regarding an "E" mark in the lights and seat belts. I should said this car was built in USA but sold in the Mexican market.

Everything in the UK is very strict, however the process was not too complicated but I've read that it can be a very cumbersome process in Hungary.

I think this model was sold in Europe, but I don't know if this is a good thing.

Thanks to all.

In 2015 the UK was in the EU just as Hungary is in the EU, so theoretically they both have to follow the same rules which are strict as you found out in 2015.

How long will you be staying in Hungary?

Well in the UK it wasn't actually that hard but I've read that in Hungary is quite difficult and not worth it.

My work contract is for 2 years so in theory I should stay at least this long and maybe even longer.

SAR46 wrote:

Hello All,

I am Sergio from Mexico and I will moving to Hungary in the next 6-8 weeks and I was wondering how feasible is to take an American car with me, please would you help me to know how difficult is the testing and registration process there? The car I'm thinking is a Corvette 2017, V8 6.2lts and 460hp.

In 2015 I moved to the UK and took with me a Shelby GT500 2011, a professional company ("ship my car" I think) took care of the lights conversion, which was adding side indicators, orange rear indicator, fog light, 2 reverse lights because it had 4 but no change to the headlamps even if they were HID, I've read they need a "washer" in the bumper. Also there were no complains regarding an "E" mark in the lights and seat belts. I should said this car was built in USA but sold in the Mexican market.

Everything in the UK is very strict, however the process was not too complicated but I've read that it can be a very cumbersome process in Hungary.

I think this model was sold in Europe, but I don't know if this is a good thing.

Thanks to all.

The car should be able to be imported with the necessary changes you made to your Shelby as those are EU requirements.   There's mutual recognition of vehicle parts with the USA. Headlights are a strange one because it depends on the light pattern given out.  My headlights on my North American car were acceptable in the UK but not acceptable here.  I also changed them because of the strange US bulbs (hard to get).   I never heard of the headlamp washer being necessary.  But it's been a while.

Your problem is that the registration taxes would be large on that vehicle with such a big engine.   Fuel is about 420 HUF a litre these days, so it's a gas guzzling monster you have there.  And it'll attract the attention of thieves.    In the EU, the taxes depend on the exhaust emissions and if these are managed by a control system.  It also needs a catalytic convertor.    If you've had mods to make it more growling, then you'd have to put them back.  And remove any hood ornaments.  There's a raft of things to do.

We do see factory models of this kind of car driving around but there not that many of them.  A high end car we've seen more and more of recently would be the Tesla.  Two years ago, one never saw them but now I will pass at least one on every drive.

You will need help because of the HU language issue and there are sometimes less than transparent under the table arrangements are made to speed it through the process.

While no longer directly relevant because of Brexit, you might find the following quite useful as it's based on EU standards: Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) inspection manual: passenger vehicles (M1).  Over the years I've used this manual in relation to my North American car.

As Fluffy said the problem with the attention of thieves it is much easier for the car to be sold/transported in a matter of hours as there are no borders as such. Unless you have a secured garage to store it overnight? Even then during the day?

It's a nice looking car. Personally, I would not want to risk it. I would buy a 2nd hand car in Hungary to get about.

You do have to weigh up the costs.

Shipping, making sure it fits into EU rules, Any conversions needed, Taxes, HU plates. Running costs.

SimCityAT wrote:

As Fluffy said the problem with the attention of thieves it is much easier for the car to be sold/transported in a matter of hours as there are no borders as such. Unless you have a secured garage to store it overnight? Even then during the day?

It's a nice looking car. Personally, I would not want to risk it. I would buy a 2nd hand car in Hungary to get about.

You do have to weigh up the costs.

Shipping, making sure it fits into EU rules, Any conversions needed, Taxes, HU plates. Running costs.

I'd agree with that overall.  In Budapest, you don't want to drive your prize possession.  The kerbs are vicious and shred your tyres and ruin your alloys. Drivers don't pay attention and smash into you or bash your doors.   

I always park at least one car away from other cars at the supermarket but some moron always parks next to me.  I've upped it to two spaces but there's always someone a sandwich short of a picnic who "doesn't get it".

Best to have a local car - easier on parts and getting people to work on it.   VW, Toyota or Ford or any of the usuals like Kia.  All of them easier than a US car.  I can hardly get spares now but my car is 24 years old.

Thank you both for your comments.

Do you have an idea of the cost of registration and import duties? As you mentioned I need to weight up the cost but I think it would still be cheaper than a 2nd hand european car with similar performance like a porsche Cayman or even an M4.

Regarding the emissions, the car has different driving modes and one of them is Eco which shuts down 4 cylinders, hence the consumptuon and emissions are lower, perhaps this might help in the test and to pay less for the registration...?

After 3 years in the Uk I moved to Poland and it has bad reputation, but I think that was in the past, I always felt safe with my car and it is non unusual now to see very expensive cars there like Lambos, Ferraris or M3-4, AMGs, etc. I was thinking Hungary should be similar, but you know better so I will consider it.

Do you know a car garage that can do the lights conversion, I want to drop an email and ask for a budget to include it in the overall cost?

If this is not feasible, what is the average price of a Mustang GT 2018-19? This car is now sold in Europe.

SAR46 wrote:

Thank you both for your comments.

Do you have an idea of the cost of registration and import duties? As you mentioned I need to weight up the cost but I think it would still be cheaper than a 2nd hand european car with similar performance like a porsche Cayman or even an M4.

Regarding the emissions, the car has different driving modes and one of them is Eco which shuts down 4 cylinders, hence the consumptuon and emissions are lower, perhaps this might help in the test and to pay less for the registration...?

After 3 years in the Uk I moved to Poland and it has bad reputation, but I think that was in the past, I always felt safe with my car and it is non unusual now to see very expensive cars there like Lambos, Ferraris or M3-4, AMGs, etc. I was thinking Hungary should be similar, but you know better so I will consider it.

Do you know a car garage that can do the lights conversion, I want to drop an email and ask for a budget to include it in the overall cost?

If this is not feasible, what is the average price of a Mustang GT 2018-19? This car is now sold in Europe.

I had my NA (North American) car stolen in Hungary back in 1997 and I had to get another one provided by the insurance company. I doubt anyone would steal it now here.  It's just not worth it to thieves as it'd cost more to fence it or the parts.

We see Porsches and lots of Mercs here but there aren't many of them.  It's a small country with small cars, small engines and some might say small minds as far as vehicles go.  The motorist is an easy victim to rip off. 

Anyway, it won't make any difference about your driving modes.  My NA car was fitted with "California Emissions" controls which were ahead of European standards at the time. I tried to push it into the higher category so I'd pay less. I tried arguing about it.  The bureaucratic robots didn't care, they just looked at the equivalent or similar vehicles sold in Europe and said, that's what it is and that's what we'll take as the reference for this car and therefore STFU.

I'd hang on before you do the light conversion.  First thing they will do is inspect it.  If they find something wrong meaning it won't pass the bi-annual vehicle test then you'll know if you need to replace them.  I am not sure on acceptability of LED headlights these days.  They'll do the inspection test first, before they do the import inspection.  You will pay for all of this - my estimate is $2K and up.  Once they've established compliance with the bi-annual test, they'll try to do the import test.  Some  testers will be trusted by the registration people - they might just check the VIN only.  Or they could go bonkers and test the whole thing.

There's a tax calculator but it's too old - click here - in Hungarian.   There's a list of taxes I've seen but I cannot remember where.  Maybe at the NAV (tax office) web site.   Cars over 2500cc are taxed the hardest.

There are a couple of American car places here including one out on the road to Budapest airport. I don't remember the name of it but you can Google.

The classifications of Euro standards does have an equivalent in the US but I never looked at it in detail.   There's a UN body called UNECE which defines the Euro standards equivalents for other jurisdictions - mainly US, Japan and Russia.   They used to have a table showing the requirements.  Wikipedia has one too but not that useful unless you have testing equipment.

The Euro standard defines the pollution but also means you car must have computer controlled ignition, catalytic convertors and oxygen sensors.  I see people on YouTube taking out their cats to make the car burble more but I'm pretty sure that's highly illegal here.

No real idea on prices of such cars but you can look here - hasznaltauto.hu. I looked and there were 4 dealer cars from 20M  ($68K) to 53M HUF ($180K USD).  Big bucks.  It could be worth bringing it driving it for 6 months, selling it and buying a 4WD Tesla.

BTW, the registration tax is different to VAT and import duties.  You do not need to pay import duties or VAT if your car is your personal goods and you've owned it more than 6 months, driven a certain distance (I forget the number) and you're moving your household to HU.  You should check yourself as my info might be out of date.

Unfortunately this page hasznaltauto.hu doesn't work for me, I guess because I'm outside the EU, something similar happens with the google results, it doesn't show me the same to yours.

One last question, how much VAT or Import duty would I have to pay? And when, at registration time or at custom clearance?

Thanks for your help.

SAR46 wrote:

Unfortunately this page hasznaltauto.hu doesn't work for me, I guess because I'm outside the EU, something similar happens with the google results, it doesn't show me the same to yours.

One last question, how much VAT or Import duty would I have to pay? And when, at registration time or at custom clearance?

Thanks for your help.

Dunno about the link - works here.    You can click the hyperlink  in my original posting.  I tried it from the UK and it works OK there (and the UK is not in the EU).

Note my last reply:

fluffy2560 wrote:

BTW, the registration tax is different to VAT and import duties. 

You do NOT eed to pay import duties or VAT if your car is your personal goods and you've owned it more than 6 months, driven a certain distance (I forget the number) and you're moving your household to HU. 

You should check yourself as my info might be out of date.

You always have to pay the registration tax.  How much, cannot say but it will be quite a bit for car with that engine size and presumably a high  level of pollution to go with it.

I should have said that I don't own the car yet, I was researching between a Corvette and a Camaro ZL1, so in my case I would need to pay VAT.  Will the VAT be according to the price in the title or based on their calculations? And will it be at  the moment of registration?

SAR46 wrote:

I should have said that I don't own the car yet, I was researching between a Corvette and a Camaro ZL1, so in my case I would need to pay VAT.  Will the VAT be according to the price in the title or based on their calculations? And will it be at  the moment of registration?

Yes, you would have to pay VAT and import duties based upon the value in either their book of car values or your original purchase invoice.   

On the other hand, you could buy it before you leave, store it for 6 months, then bring it here so that it's part of your personal household goods.

You cannot register a car without the customs clearance documents.   The police handle the registration.

There is a possibility of shipping it to say Amsterdam or Hamburg and just going there and driving it around like a tourist.  You can do that for 6 months but getting insurance might be difficult.  And you'd have to ship it back out.  It's not that expensive to ship cars from the USA.

VAT is terrible here - 27%.  Import duties, I don't know.  VAT is levied on the total price, including the shipping and any duties. 

It's not looking so good.   Now we know this is a purchase for shipping, I wouldn't do it.  It's just not worth it.

Check it out here further - EU - Buying and selling cars

I am not sure being out of the EU has anything to do with anything Re: hasznaltauto.hu I have just tried it on various countries using a VPN and it has worked fine for me.

SimCityAT wrote:

I am not sure being out of the EU has anything to do with anything Re: hasznaltauto.hu I have just tried it on various countries using a VPN and it has worked fine for me.

Same here, works fine for me on a UK VPN.

Not sure what it is but I can't access the page, I get the following message:

"Amennyiben Ön ezt az üzenetet látja, vegye fel a kapcsolatot velünk az [email protected] címen!"

Going back to the import duty or VAT, when would I need to pay it? Because I would think the ship arrives to Hamburg and from there the container would be transported on a lorry to Hungary. So would I pay the tax in Hamburg or when it arrives to Hungary?

Thanks guys.

SAR46 wrote:

Not sure what it is but I can't access the page, I get the following message:

"Amennyiben Ön ezt az üzenetet látja, vegye fel a kapcsolatot velünk az [email protected] címen!"

Going back to the import duty or VAT, when would I need to pay it? Because I would think the ship arrives to Hamburg and from there the container would be transported on a lorry to Hungary. So would I pay the tax in Hamburg or when it arrives to Hungary?

Thanks guys.

Error message says "If you see this message, contact us at [email protected]!".  Maybe you have some blocking software or using an unusual browser.   Try a different one and turn off the blocking software.  I'm using the latest Firefox on Windows and it works perfectly.

The principle of VAT is that it's a tax at the point of consumption (i.e. you "consume" the car in Hungary).   So the sealed container will be forwarded via freight forwarders to here who will deal with Customs on your  behalf.   Anyway, VAT and import duties are paid at the point of use which is Hungary. 

As I said before,  if you owned the car more than 6 months and drive it more than 6000 km before its arrival WITH your personal effects, then you shouldn't need to pay VAT and duties.   

If it's in a container with any other stuff you might get away with it and Customs may just clear it.   They will almost certainly search everything for alcohol and drugs and may take an interest in the value of the car as it's such an expensive and unusual item.

You might have an alternative.

In my own country, you could just drive the car to Customs after arriving at a port then go to Customs and volunteer to declare it.  They weren't interested at the port.   

I had some Canadian colleagues who flew to Hamburg, proved who they were with their non-EU passports, then drove the car on Ontario plates back to Hungary. They never bothered registering them here, they just re-exported them after a few years but before HU joined the EU.

I also drove my North American foreign plated hobby car from Amsterdam back to Hungary.  No-one asked me anything except at the German-Austria border.   It was in the more chaotic times post-Communism and when Hungary wasn't in the EU.   

As it was a long time ago it would be a case of YMMV.

Another thing to think about is that you have to change your driving papers to Hungarian ones after the first year of living in Hungary. Must pass the driving exam here.

fluffy2560 wrote:

The principle of VAT is that it's a tax at the point of consumption (i.e. you "consume" the car in Hungary).   So the sealed container will be forwarded via freight forwarders to here who will deal with Customs on your  behalf.   Anyway, VAT and import duties are paid at the point of use which is Hungary. 

As I said before,  if you owned the car more than 6 months and drive it more than 6000 km before its arrival WITH your personal effects, then you shouldn't need to pay VAT and duties.   

If it's in a container with any other stuff you might get away with it and Customs may just clear it.   They will almost certainly search everything for alcohol and drugs and may take an interest in the value of the car as it's such an expensive and unusual item.

As you said, I might get away with it, that's why I want to know how it works exactly ;-) . I was also thinking that if I buy it to a private seller we might agree to specify a different date in the sales contract for this purpose.

Regarding the driver's license, I have one from Mexico and another from the UK, isn't it possible to exchange them for an Hungarian one?
When I was living in Poland some brazilian colleagues exchanged their brazilian license for a Polish one without need to take the test.

SAR46 wrote:

...
As you said, I might get away with it, that's why I want to know how it works exactly ;-) . I was also thinking that if I buy it to a private seller we might agree to specify a different date in the sales contract for this purpose.

Regarding the driver's license, I have one from Mexico and another from the UK, isn't it possible to exchange them for an Hungarian one?
When I was living in Poland some brazilian colleagues exchanged their brazilian license for a Polish one without need to take the test.

Well, I couldn't endorse that kind of thing in these forums but I expect people do try to do that.

Your license swap depends on mutual recognition.  You'd have to Google for that as I don't know about Poland or Brazil's arrangements.  The UK one you could exchange it easily before Brexit but I don't know the situation in 2021. 

Click here for relevant info

It says:

The following documents must be presented at the administration:

-  appropriate valid personal identity document (ID card, passport, card format driving license) in case of foreign citizen document certifying his/her normal country of residence
-  test confirmation certifying the successful course free test (it is necessary only if the driver’s entitlement content cannot be clearly stated even after the attested Hungarian translation).



Documents need to be attached at the administration:

  -  driving license issued by the foreign authority
   - medical certification in case if the foreign driving license doesn’t contain the term of the medical eligibility or its term differs from the term determined by the relevant Hungarian legislation
  -  document containing a statement justifying the issuance of the driving license
  - receipt of payment of the driving license administration fee
  - aptitude certificate if the exchange of the driving license is required by a professional driver
   - attested Hungarian translation of the foreign driving license (if the driving license was issued in a country which did not join the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic)


I don't believe Mexico ratified the convention.

Thanks a lot fluffy for all the information, it has been very useful.

SAR46 wrote:

Thanks a lot fluffy for all the information, it has been very useful.

Ok, please let us know your experiences.

Don't forget that HU DL medical.  It's time limited,  They test your eyesight and blood pressure. It's a nuisance if you don't use it in time.  I've never seen such bureaucratic nonsense. 

In my own country (UK) you can drive until you are 70 without a medical. 

Here, I have to be checked something like every 2 years as I'm over 60 and I want to maintain my truck license.

It's worse in some other countries where you have to prove your educational attainment!  Like finished high school.  Ludicrous.

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