Cyprus Mail
Letters

Cyprus vehicle import, a tale of fun and games

I am a UK Citizen and therefore, a EU Citizen. I was forced into early retirement by my employers in Bahrain in 2009. My wife & I decided on living in Cyprus. We quickly purchased a house here and arranged for our possessions to be shipped over. Attempting to obtain information regarding the importation of my ten-year-old Jeep Wrangler proved fruitless as most Cypriot departments failed to respond to my urgent requests.

The best advice came from many Cypriot friends who  told me that it would be best to bring the vehicle over as customs grant six months in order to complete formalities. Furthermore, the law was changing and likely to favour cases like mine. Customs do not give six months but three. They then grant extensions. The vehicle arrived in Limassol Port in February 2010.
I was given the wrong form by customs and my status was not understood. Having followed all procedures, many visits to Nicosia customs HQ and obtaining residency I was directed to Larnaca port to complete formalities.

There, I was abruptly told that I would need an agent in order to complete the final forms as they were in Greek. An agent was conveniently hanging around the customs premises and I signed up with her. I was taken to the office, asked for the agent’s fees and the duty payable.

I noticed other very strange restrictions, like, neither Inor any member of my family would be allowed to work or seek work on the island at any time, now or in the future, and only I or family members could use the vehicle?

Customs agreed that mistakes had been made and agreed to further vehicle extensions while I pursued the correct forms and further information required from Bahrain.

At one point, I visited the agent’s office as an extension was running out and was told it would not be granted and that I HAD to place the vehicle in the government bonded warehouse. That was in August 2011. The vehicle has been there, in the open, unwashed, unserviced and undriven since.
The British High Commission pointed me to the European Advice Centre, Europe Direct and SOLVIT, which took up the case but have no legal muscle, are full of disclaimers and proved inept.  In January, of this year, I made contact with the Ombudswoman’s office.

I actually received a reply but was informed that a case had already been launched (er… by whom ?) and that the outcome would be communicated to me.

I asked by return, how could an outcome be achieved without any input from me? No reply. I visited the office in July and was told that the Ombudswoman was “away”.

I recently placed all this in a summary text for the British High Commission. Who knows if they ever got it because there was no reply.
My beloved jeep is now 13 years old and is probably in a dreadful state having been in the government bonded warehouse for over two years.

Customs eventually capitulated but when I went to collect my vehicle from the agent I was told I had to pay their fees and the bonded warehouse fees. I pointed out that I had paid the agent fees but no receipt was given – it is the Cypriot way isn’t it. I was hastily given a receipt but told that I still owed the warehouse fees.
Also, why had we been forced to obtain residency when, as an EU citizen, I had the right to reside and work anywhere in the EU didn’t I?

Name and address withheld

 

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