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How does the vehicle registration scheme work in practice and what does it cost?

Our scheme involves creating a simple company structure in order to register your vehicle in France. The company is created by our English speaking, French Chartered Accountant.

The company structure is called a “Societe Civile” and it is designated by the French government specifically to house assets. It is not a trading company but is simply used to hold assets such as property, vehicles, machinery etc. The company can be set up by anyone, regardless of where in the world they are domiciled and the shares in the company can be owned by two or more shareholders.

You are the sole owners of the company and the share capital (the value of the company) is a minimum of €1 so there is no cash shareholding deposit to be made.

The company must have a “Domicile” address in France (one where the owners can be contacted) and we provide that address for you at our hire depot in Burgundy. The only function of this address is to receive official documents on your behalf and unlike us claiming that you are “resident” here, it is 100% legal for us to host any number of companies at our commercial address.

Once the company registration formalities are complete you will be issued with an “Extrait de Registration au Griffe de Commerce” (known in France as the “Kbis”) which shows you as the owner of the company and allows you to register the vehicle in the company’s name. As sole owners of the company, you have full legal title to your vehicle and you will have a vehicle registration certificate in the company name to keep in your possession.

The vehicle registration certificate (called the Carte Gris in France) is THE proof of ownership here. You cannot buy or sell a vehicle without being in possession of a registration certificate so by virtue of the fact that the certificate is in the name of a company which you own and control, you are by default the fully legal title holder and owner of the vehicle.

The creation of the company is a complex procedure and must be carried out by a professional so we work with French accountancy firm, SARL Augefi to handle this procedure. They will contact you directly to complete the formalities following our introduction.

Company registration usually takes around a month but once you have started the process, there is nothing to stop you finding and buying a vehicle and starting your trip. The formalities can be completed at a later date.

There are no tax implications for this company structure and just one simple declaration to make each year which is handled by the Accountants as part of their initial fee. There are no further fees to consider on an on-going basis.

In order to secure a vehicle from our stock, we require a 10% deposit to hold a vehicle pending collection but the balance is only payable once you are ready to actually take delivery of the vehicle. The deposit is non-refundable, except where the vehicle has undisclosed faults (which is never!). We would not, for example, refund the deposit in the event you simply do not like the colour or changed your mind about the layout but this situation has yet to arise!

Likely ownership costs and costs associated with using our scheme

All costs detailed below are inclusive of tax.

Purchase, registration and insurance

Vehicle purchase price – we have a selection of new and used vehicles available, usually ranging in price from €25,000 to €70,000 depending on model and age.

Company registration fees, professional fees payable to the Accountants and other administration costs to establish the company structure (payable directly to our Chartered Account at the outset): €1450.

Vehicle registration fee, approximately: €495 (one off fee, NOT repeated annually).

Fully comprehensive insurance (annual premium) between: €700 and €850 per year for a vehicle worth €30000 to €50000 . You can obtain a discount if “no-claims” status in your home country can be proven. Insurance is explained in greater detail on this page

Likely ongoing costs of ownership

Like all vehicles, motorhomes and campervans depreciate so it is inevitable that you will lose money over the course of a long-term trip. The precise level of depreciation is difficult to calculate accurately because market conditions could play a part in the rate of depreciation but generally, a well-kept vehicle with a popular layout will resell easily and maintain its price well.

In our experience, the likely cost of vehicle depreciation can be calculated as follows:

Based upon a purchase price of €30,000:-

  • Age related depreciation is likely to be €4,000 per year of ownership
  • Mileage related depreciation is likely to reduce the vehicle’s value by around €1000 per 10,000 kilometres added to the odometer reading.
  • Hence, a vehicle with a purchase price of €30,000 sold one year later having covered an additional 20,000 kilometres is likely to be worth around €24,000.

Disposal costs

As explained in our vehicle selling option page, you are free to sell your vehicle in a number of different ways. If you sell your vehicle directly to a buyer that you have found and carry out the handover yourself, no cost is incurred. If you want a completely hassle-free sale, we will handle the disposal of the vehicle for you on a commission basis at 8% plus tax or if you find a buyer yourselves but need us to handle the sale and handover to the new owner, we charge a fee of 6% plus tax.

Visit our page outlining other likely trip costs to help arrive at your whole-trip budget

We would be delighted to help you get started on your motorhome adventure here in Europe so please get in touch if there is more information you need or you would simply like to talk to someone based here in France with a wealth of experience to share.

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