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What does it cost to import a car?

A much heard reason for importing a car is that the purchase price of a car is a lot lower abroad than in The Netherlands. The same car can be a lot cheaper in for example Germany than in The Netherlands. This makes it attractive to import a car. However, you do have to take into account the extra costs involved in importing a car. In order to give you a good idea, we have listed all costs involved in importing a car in this article.

car import costs

Costs depend on various factors

Importing a car involves more costs than just the purchase price of the car. Important for the calculation of the costs is where the car comes from. There is of course a difference in importing a car from Germany or America. Not only are the transport costs different, you also have to deal with possible import duties and type approval. There are several factors that influence the costs of importing:

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Purchase price

The first cost item is of course the purchase price. In many countries, the purchase price of a car is lower than in the Netherlands. For many people, this is the main reason for importing a car from abroad. You can always try to negotiate about the final purchase price. Are you importing a car from outside the EU? Then the purchase price also plays a role in the import duties.


BPM is the tax you pay for a passenger car, van or motorcycle. If you buy a new car in the Netherlands, the importer does the BPM declaration. When importing a car, however, you must do this yourself. A car or motorcycle is not registered until the BPM return has been filed and the BPM has been paid. From that moment on, you can drive the vehicle on public roads. The person in whose name the vehicle is registered must pay BPM. You can calculate how much BPM you have to pay for your car. To do this, you need to know theCO2 emissions of your car. The data for the BPM are determined during the inspection by the RDW. You can only declare BPM once the car has been inspected at an RDW inspection station.


After you have purchased the car, it must of course be transported to the Netherlands. The costs for this depend on the distance you have to travel and the method of transport. If you are importing the car from an EU country, such as Germany, there are two ways of transporting the car: driving it to the Netherlands yourself or having it transported by a car ambulance. If you drive the car to the Netherlands yourself, it must have third-party insurance. However, you cannot take out third-party insurance with a foreign number plate. However, you can apply for a temporary registration number and then insure it. In addition, you must take into account the costs of transport to the seller (such as a train or airline ticket) and fuel costs for the journey home. If the return journey takes longer than one day, you must also take into account the costs for an overnight stay. Are you bringing the car from a country outside the EU? Then transport by sea or air is an option. Of course, this involves more costs.

RDW inspection

An imported car must always first be inspected by the RDW. During this inspection, an inspector checks whether the car complies with all environmental and safety regulations, and can therefore be allowed on the Dutch roads. The inspection also determines the data for the BPM declaration.


We already mentioned it briefly, but if you are importing a car outside the EU, transport by sea or by plane is an option. Shipping a car is the easy option. The costs for this depend on the size of the car, where it is located and how you want to ship it. You can ship a car in a container or by Roll on-Roll off. The last option is mostly chosen for vehicles that do not fit in a container. If you choose for a container, you can ship the car in a container with other vehicles or in your own container. The costs for shipping therefore depend on various factors.

Import duties

Are you importing a car from an EU country? Then you do not have to pay import duties. If you are importing a car from outside the EU, you do have to pay import duties. For a car younger than 30 years this is 10% over the purchase value and transport costs. If the car is older than 30 years, you do not have to pay import duties, only 6% VAT.


Finally, you will have to pay VAT when importing a car. When you import a car from an EU country, it does not matter whether the VAT is paid in that country or in the Netherlands. However, there is one exception. If the car is younger than 6 months or has less than 6000 km on the odometer, the tax authorities can consider the car as new and you have to pay VAT again. Even if you have already paid it in the country of origin. When you import a car from outside the EU, you always have to pay 21% VAT over the purchase price, transport costs and import duties. If the car is older than 30 years, you pay 6% VAT.

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