Those things that have four wheel and get you from A to B, you know the car, can cause so much trouble in life, and perhaps even more so in Portugal due the the high cost of such luxurious items. I have and still possess my beautiful useless UK registered car in Portugal. It’s useless because I don’t use it. Now, it’s not that if fails to work or due to the lack of an MOT, UK road tax or insurance. It’s just not legal to drive here.
Portugal is my home now and I don’t want to join the brigade of people running around in cars that are illegal in this wonderful country of excessively high import taxes. Taxes where one is unable to comply with the rules and regulations unjustly set. I’ll not get upset about the injustice simply because I knew the rules before, and therefore had a choice.
My messed up car story started due to Brexit. I’ll use the term Brexit politely as I wish to remain prim and proper. That said, I’m just a little bitter and twisted of the whole issue of Brexit, or perhaps, I shall say, was upset. Time can take its toll and also, permits the mind to adjust to stupidity as is the case with Brexit.
I knew the question of Brexit was there long before my arrival in Portugal but, never for one moment did I consider than the British public would vote for such a huge potential change to the UK’s status in the world. I could go on and on about this, but I’m sure that most people are sick to the back teeth of the subject, so end of – almost.
I arrived in Portugal on the 19th of June 2016 with a view to getting to know the country far better. I had accommodation booked for a month where it was my intention to find a long term rental property. It was also my intention to travel back and to, to the UK. On the 23th of June I was monitoring the referendum results and then came the bad news, from my point of view. The results to me were catastrophic, after all, what did the result really mean for us wanna go to Portugal people. It sure did throw me into a blind panic, and as I see now, without good cause.
Wishing to still fulfil a dream of many years, everything I did from then on was brought forward big time and after my three month period here, I registered as a resident. This was easy in itself but now created a time problem regards the importation of my vehicle. Initially, this need not have been an issue but it became one.
Following my initial accommodation I found somewhere I thought would be more permanent and even though not ideal, provided a roof over my head. The time had also come where it was becoming colder in Portugal and I discover that the open fireplace would not work without expelling a ton of smoke into the property, so I resorted to an electric fire. I discussed with the property owner about taking over a far more appropriate place they had. It was all agreed and they said they needed a month to make it habitable. No attempt was made to make it so, and after the month, was informed that in another fours weeks all would be done. It never happened and also, I was being charged double for the electric used so I purchased somewhere instead, all of which took time. There we go, more time gone following becoming a Portuguese resident and killing the car.
The Problem Car
On my car I had a personalised plate and should I have undertaken the import process with it attached, it would have become null and void.
It is unfortunate that some people when they don’t get their own way, become very spiteful and I was a victim of this in regards to post I was receiving in the UK. As this had been the case, I arranged to have my post redirected. As most people know, when travelling abroad, it is necessary to carry the vehicle documentation and therefore, I was unable to send my logbook back to the UK for an address update and then arrange the personalised plate to be placed on retention.
There was a solution to the problem and that was to request a replacement logbook saying the original was lost. This however created a new problem because I was unable to request a replacement to a new address so I used the old address and thought I could rely of the document being posted onto the new address via the post office forwarding service. This created another problem because legal documents such as these, will not be forwarded by the post office, even having being told by the DVLA there was no problem.
Time is now ticking by and having waited for the DVLA for ages, I decided that my best course of action was to drive back to the UK and resolve the issue there. Upon my arrival, I sent off the original logbook to undertake the change of address and awaited the replacement. I received a letter from the DVLA and became all excited only to be informed that the logbook I had sent them was void as it was not the most current. The one I never received was. Again, more time wasted but at least, I knew where I stood, so requested a replacement to be sent to the new address. Three weeks later, I received it. Next, I undertook the cherished registration transfer so again had to wait for the new logbook which arrived after about two weeks at which point, I returned back to Portugal and my new wonderful home.
I now had more problems because my addresses had changed and also, I never had a full year of utility bills. I had been paying the bills on the postal address, but stopped after the spiteful rejection of my post. It now became evident that I’d be clobbered for the full import duty. My UK car is a BMW with stupid headlights that move when you corner. Being a modern car, one would think that the simple flip of a switch would convert them for continental driving. In the user manual there is no mention of this. The web has differing ideas, and with there being so many variations of the car, there is no answer available on the web either. I contacted BMW Germany, Portugal, Spain and the UK. The only reply I received was from BMW UK who said contact Germany with the VIN number. As said, they failed to reply.
CaN The Lights Be Adapted
Following all this shit, I decided to remove a headlight so I could determine if it was possible. Needless to say, half the front end of the car had to be dismantled. I was aided by a Youtube video. What a job it was to discover that it’s not possible and the part that directs the beam is something that would cost almost nothing to replace should it be available and not within a sealed unit. The next idea was to purchase two new headlights at a cost of £1100. But then what? With the headlights having the cornering facility, could I run into other costly issues. Okay, so now I bite the bullet and contemplate buying a Portuguese car.
Portuguese cars come at a variety of price tags. There is the horrendous new cost. There is the almost horrendous nearly new cost. There is the just about acceptable cost with 200,000 km on the clock and there is the cheap or near cheap that would be on a UK scrap heap.
Now I've Totally Given Up on The Import Idea
My Real Portuguese Car
For me it was a difficult decision because I have business interests in the UK that could be long drawn out affairs time wise. This being the case, it would be beneficial for me to drive to the UK and not have to hire a vehicle whilst there. Also, on such trips I could stack the car with goodies not available in Portugal. Having to consider a car appropriate for long distance and also taking into account that perhaps, just perhaps this frigging time, I could purchase a car on this occasion and keep it for 20 years or so, I eventually did so. Even that was not easy because with me being inland, I discovered that for the most, if you desire a near new car, you’ll need to head towards the coast for greater choice. So much more happens near the coast in Portugal. Hell, it’s not always easy here but I love all the same.
Here's How I Feel Now
It’s been a log journey just to sort a car but having now done so, I’m delighted. I’m delighted because I now feel even more at home simply because I have a real Portuguese car and a car with the steering wheel on the correct side. And after all the expense, there is a plus. It’s incredibly economical and will be cheaper to maintain than a BMW. Yes, I’m a happy bunny with teddy on the dashboard. As for the BMW, perhaps I’ll turn it into a garden feature and grow plants in it.