Kevin Colyer's thoughts and ponderings

Semi-random rambles


Importing a car into Belgium

We have been thrilled to be given a wonderful VW Passat from our dear friends in Germany. Being sans voiture has been OK but a little tiresome. It is amazing how many times for work and for pleasure a car makes things so much easier. We have no base car in YWAM Brussels at the moment which is a bit of a shame and has made things a tad more complicated.

However the process of importing a car is quite intriguing. And I thought I would start a little series documenting my progress here. I know someone will find it helpful someday!

The Theory

So here is how to import a second hand VW car from Germany to Belgium

  1. Make sure you have a bill of sales to prove you bought it
  2. Make sure you have all the German car documents
  3. You WILL need a Certificate or Conformity (COC orEWG in German). The seller or VW garages should provide you with one. If not you can order them on-line at
  4. Go to the Customs and Excise house in Brussels (Rue de l’éntrepôt, 1120 – in the port area. It is number 11 under the concrete bridge. Parking out side. It is not easy to find!). Room 0.3 on the right, ground floor. Now 2nd floor, corridor on the right, first office.
  5. You will need 3 cents one Euro to pay for the stamp (Vignette)! Yes 3 cents one Euro and they don’t take credit cards either. Beware the office hours are 8am-11am and 1pm-3.30pm.
  6. You will get your pink slip for the Matriculation (road licence)
  7. You will need to get insurance cover.
  8. With the insurance cover and your certificate and your pink slip you can go to the Contrôle Technique station for the annual safety check
  9. Then you can go and wait for a very long time at the Véhicule Immatriculation Centre near Rogier Metro. There you will get one license plate. You can cut another nearby.
  10. Put your plates on your car. (official plate MUST be on the back – you will get stopped otherwise)
  11. You might like breakdown cover from Touring or somewhere else
  12. You might need a parking permit (like I do) to park near your house. The commune can provide this but watch for the opening hours. You need you final plates for this to work so it is the last step!

It seems easy enough eh? But I can’t find instructions anyway on how to do it so I will write up my own for the future.

The Practice


Arrived back in Brussels with the car from Germany. Tired but pleased! 550 Km on 1/2 a tank of Diesel!

Off to the Custom’s house via Fortislease to pick up some donated computers. Tried to find the Customs house. I found the street (they are hard to hide) but the customs place is off the road under a concrete apron next to the long line of loading bays on the left-handside of the road. Arrived at 16:00 at Customs house but the desks had all shut at 15:30!

I have spent the morning going around Brussels trying to get my car registered. Firstly I went to customs. Then I realised I needed 3 cents to import my car. Having no cash on me I went to look for cash… On returning the lady was surprisingly helpful and quickly polished off all the paper work. I asked what was the next process and she said I needed my Certificate of Conformité or COC (it declares that the car is legal for Belgian Roads, provided by VW.) So off I went to the VW garage (I need a spare key anyway) and to the Service d’Agréation on the 3rd floor. (or Service d’Aggravation as I will call it now).

The men there rudely told me I could not get it from them but had to get it from the VW re-seller in Germany. I asked for an address for the re-seller. No chance of that. In fact no-one in the entire VW garage could work out who to call or even had a number for VW Germany.

So I ordered a key. Went to the Contrôle Technique to see if I could do it before having all the paper work (short answer no!) and so I went home!

It took me 5 minutes to solve my problem on the internet when I got home and I found a free-phone number for VW Germany. The man on the phone pointed me to a website (, which once I registered and entered the chassis number, promised (I think – it was all in German) to send me a COC for 0 Euro’s at 19% VAT plus 5 euros postage (it weighs about 10 g!)

My Belgian Insurance broker is much better and responded to an email and phone call this morning.

Reflection: Belgian VW dealers really don’t care. German VW dealers are GREAT! Friendly, knowledgeable, and one even called me back with out me leaving a message! WOWSo now I wait for the COC to arrive. Then, just Contrôle Technique, a long wait picking up my plaques, Touring Assurance and then Parking Permit for here in Etterbeek! Phew!


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I keep getting suprised…

On Monday Ellie entered Premier Primaire (year 1 of primary school) in her French school here in Brussels. She looked very cute in her uniform and was so eager to get there and get in. All of the parents we welcomed into her classroom and we found out where she would be sitting.

And then I was surprised as all the parents started pulling out their cameras and photographing their little darlings in their new classroom at their desks. Now, perhaps this happens in the UK but I have never heard of it. But all the Belgians seemed to be doing it.

I think this is due to the value they put on education here. Kids start at 2 and 1/2. They  always have lots of homework and most Belgians leave education in their mid twenties. It is a strong cultural value; and that is always a surprise to encounter!

I was also pleased to hear that she has started to learn Dutch on day 2! Now that is a little unusual here but very welcome!