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“I could not wait to begin checking the method they suggested”


Gorges du Verdon in a motorhome

“The blanket rule is that to own a vehicle in any European country, we would have to be residents of a European nation. A bunch of schemes show how to fudge residency. Most schemes centred on making out that we are residing with a friend. Others purported to ‘sell’ the vehicle to us on a guaranteed buy-back. But under those arrangements, title to the vehicle would never really pass to us. Those bodgie arrangements might get us on the road. But what if we had to make a serious insurance claim. Even a half-witted insurance investigator would discover the ruse.

How can I do it legally?

I kept digging. I was determined to find a way of motor-homing in Europe. And to do so safely and legally. I don’t want to be pulled over and asked to produce ownership papers showing an address that would turn out to be dodgy. Nor do I want to drive in fear my ownership might be invalid. Even worse, how can I sleep at night if my insurance is invalid because of dodgy or invalid ownership documents?

After a few years of searching, I found the website of a Euro Camping Cars owned by a guy called Phil, which offered one-year-old ex-hire motorhomes for sale.

What was more important was that this company offers foreigners assistance in arranging to do so legally.

I could not wait to begin checking the method they suggested. I looked at it as thoroughly as I could. Firstly I had to understand that the French legal system is different to the British system on which Australian laws of ownership are based. In France, it is possible for foreigners to own a vehicle through what they call a société civile, without having to fake or pretend residency. The French société civile does not correspond to the type of company or partnership legal structures that I am familiar with. The best way I can describe the structure is that it allows ordinary people (whether resident or not) to form an association for ownership in a non-trading entity. I learned that many non-residents of France own real estate through a specialised type société civile called the société civile immobilière.

My research on this method of ownership involved many email and phone conversations with Phil. I found Phil to be not only cooperative and down to earth, but enormously enthusiastic, and what’s more is that even though he operates his business in France, he speaks pretty good English. He is, after all, an Englishman; He even has a sense of humour. Phil put me in touch with the French equivalent of Chartered Accountant, one who practices in corporate structures and tax compliance for small business. With the assistance of the Expert Compatible, we set up our own société civile to be ready to buy a motorhome, for our European wanderings.

In May 2015 we travelled to the city of Sens, just one hour from Paris, to meet Phil and buy our motorhome. Well, it’s in France. So it’s a camping car. And we named it Skippy.”

Read the full story of Vincent d’Storyteller’s trip.


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