When we last left our heroine (me), she was informed by her husband that he was leaving for a business trip and she would need to pick up the new car in Munich by herself. And drive it back to Austria. And take care of a few details to get it registered… Let’s re-join the story in progress.
I arrived at the dealer in Munich more than a little worried that we had forgotten some crucial item and wouldn’t be able to get the car. I shouldn’t have been concerned because everything ran smoothly and within an hour I had the car, keys, temporary insurance, and temporary license plates, and was on the Autobahn heading south.
The drive home to Austria was great and I started to think about how jealous Eric would be that I was driving the car. My excitement was short lived because I soon found out all the steps I needed to complete to actually finish the process. My temporary plates and insurance expired in 4 days, but I had a naive confidence that I could get the car registered in that time.
The first step in “importing” the car to Austria is to get it inspected. I took it to a local BMW dealer and they told me it would take a few days to get all the paper work done. At the time this seemed unreasonably long, but later on I saw the test report and understood. It’s a four page document with every conceivable specification of the car listed, from carbon emissions to cubic engine capacity. The car is not new, but it’s in great shape, so the only snag I ran into was that it didn’t have snow tires. While they are technically not “required”, if you don’t have them between November and April, your insurance is invalidated. That option didn’t sound very good, so I got out my wallet again and plunked down 900 Euros for the cheapest tires they could offer. (Eric probably wants to go on record that he was horrified by the steel wheels I put on the car, but the pretty aluminum ones were 3x the price and I was horrified by that.). So after four days, I had the paperwork to go to the next step. However, the temporary plates had expired, so I couldn’t drive the car and it was stranded at the dealer.
The next steps were several visits (on foot) to the state Finance Office, where I presented the inspection forms and was asked to fill out a bunch of paperwork. While I’m feeling pretty good about how my understanding of German is progressing, the forms nearly brought me to tears. After I filled in my name and address, the rest of the words were completely incomprehensible. I have a whole new respect for immigrants, as well as huge gratitude to the patient lady at the office who sensed my desperation and helped me complete the paperwork.
After the Finance people got all the information, they took a few days to calculate the amount of tax we owed. The tax rate is based on some secret formula that includes the price, the number of grams of CO2 emissions, and extra fees for each horse power over 115. At the end I got a whopping bill for 3000 Euros, which I had no choice but to pay since the car was at the lot waiting for me.
With the tax receipt in hand, I met with an insurance agent who asked for yet more Euros. After we finished more paperwork, he disappeared for an hour, but returned with the crown jewels… my new license plates! He was also nice enough to give me a ride to the dealer who helped put them on.
At this point I drove off happily into the sunset, the proud owner of 2007 BMW 325xi sedan. Of course, I don’t have anywhere to park it yet… but that’s a story for another time.
Here’s the obligatory picture: