412
Getting an MGB V8 Roadster registered in Belgium
Henri Malcorps (Flame Red 4478) imported a V8 Roadster from the UK and explains the complicated process and formalities of registering the car in Belgium. It was far from straightforward! (Jan 10)

From the fifties I was dreaming of an MG, but it was not a convenient car for everyday use for me and I couldn't afford a second car. In 2005, when I learned about the closure of MG-Rover I got the fever again and bought a brand new MG TF 135. I still have it and enjoy driving it very much with no particular problems to speak of. My only frustration is that I can't see the engine and I don't understand the electronics in it. In any case the software to maintain the ECU is not affordable. After having bought the TF, I became a member of a Belgium MG Club and could admire MGAs, MGBs, MGBGTs. I decided I would have an MGB, but which one? I bought and read all the books about the MGB I could find on the internet. Being used to the power of my TF and my BMW with 160 BHP, I was afraid the MGB 1800 would be a frustration for me. For this reason I followed adverts for MGBGTV8s for sale on the internet for several years.

I only found one MGBGTV8 for sale in Belgium, but it was expensive and I didn't like the colour or the interior. I also had some doubt about the quality of the bodywork; it had some uneven reflections in the sunlight. As I travel to the UK several times each year for professional reasons, I took the opportunity to examine several cars there. The shell of many of them was in bad shape and not being a specialist in this matter, I decided to go for a car with a Heritage shell although this would double the price of the car. But, would I be able to get it registered in Belgium and drive it?

There are two options: it may be registered as a normal car or as an old-timer (matriculation numbers starting with an O in Belgium). The last solution has the advantage that the car has to be presented only once for a technical inspection, but is this really an advantage? Also the insurance costs and taxes are very low. The problem is that the use of the car is very limited. It may only be used between sunrise and sunset and only within a radius of 25 km of the place where it is garaged, where ever this may be. Longer distances are accepted to participate at "organised manifestations", for instance by a club. There is room for interpretation in the Belgian law, but as security is very important for me and I want to travel anywhere without rushing against the sunset or waiting for the sunrise, so I went for a normal registration.
A great deal of information about importing a car to Belgium may be found on the internet, for example at the site of the Belgium Federation of Old Vehicles (BFOV in Flemish or FBVA in French) which you can find at: www.bfov.be Nevertheless the information is often a summing up of what to do, but without explaining the principles that are behind the process. This makes you feel unsafe so you could be worrying that you could import a car for which you would never be allowed to drive it in Belgium.

There are two important obstacles to overcome: get it imported and obtain a Belgium registration certificate.
Importation from the UK to Belgium is quite simple; you need to present a valid invoice and the UK Registration Certificate (V5C) to the Belgian customs. This invoice should mention:
o Make and model of the car,
o Date of the first registration
o Vehicle identification number or chassis number
o Engine number
o Current mileage (km)
o Price including VAT
o Name and address of the seller
o Name and address of the buyer
For no charge they will send you a "request for registration" document with the stamp of the Ministry of Finance. This is the in Belgium well known pink document, which will allow you to register the car once it has got all the necessary stamps. You will also get a stamp "Vignette 705" on the V5C document.

To obtain the Belgian registration you need first a homologation certificate and this may be more complicated. The main principle is that a vehicle that obtained a valid homologation certificate in an EU member state should also get it in all the other member states. A valid V5C certificate will allow homologation in Belgium. The first thing to verify is if the certificate delivered with the vehicle you want to buy, is the one for the vehicle. In particular the number of the engine should correspond with the number on the V5C. Next you should get the authorisation of the Ministry of Transport to carve the chassis number in
the car, the riveted plate is not sufficient in Belgium. If your vehicle is an original car it will probably be sufficient to buy an Heritage certificate from British Heritage Motor Centre at www.heritage-motor-centre.co.uk/shop/heritage-certificate/index.html . If this certificate corresponds to your car then the Belgian Ministry of Transport personenwagens@mobilit.fgov.be will give you the authorisation to engrave the chassis number in the car at a place they will indicate. You may do this yourself or ask a workshop to do it for you. The minimum dimensions (7 mm) of the characters have to be respected. Don't underestimate this task; it is not very easy to do without damaging the car.

If your car is a converted model like a V8 Roadster, it is a little more complicated. You will have to go for a "single car homologation". Be prepared to prove that the vehicle you present is the one that has got the V5C and was not modified in the mean time. You will have to present the car at the Ministry of Transport with all the documents including a Heritage certificate. They will verify the invoice and the V5C with the car as well as any other document you may have. Also the Heritage certificate will get some attention although it doesn't have to correspond at all with the car. If no important discrepancies are detected, you will be authorised to carve the chassis number in the car.
In any case, whether you have a corresponding Heritage certificate or not, you will have to present the car for technical inspection before you get the homologation certificate. During this inspection the car is examined in detail. The V5C and dimensions of the car are verified and this is the stage were you could be requested to prove that the car has not been modified since it got its V5C. It is very important to be aware of this before you buy the car, because it could signify very expensive modifications to get it back to the condition indicated by the V5C or the original condition.

Before you buy the car, you should learn as much as possible about its essential safety components, such as suspension, steering and brakes. When you check the car, these should correspond to the original. If they do not, you should be able to prove the conversion was done before the date of the V5C. An invoice from a workshop or that of the components dated before the V5C will be accepted. Verify that you get with the car as many invoices as possible and ensure you have at least those for the components essential for safety. Note that the three flexible connections of the brakes should be the simple rubber ones. The steel reinforced, although better, are not authorised in Belgium. You should also be aware that a valid UK MOT is not a guarantee for homologation. Only conversions realised before the V5C date, will be accepted. For this reason I would strongly warn against an original RHD to a LHD conversion; the risk is high that it will not be accepted. Also power steering conversions are excluded, unless you can prove it was done before the V5C date.

Once the vehicle has been accepted by the technical inspectors, they will send their report to the Ministry of Transport who will invite you (after about one month) to pay the costs for delivering the single car homologation certificate. Next you should present yourself for a normal technical inspection, because now you are the proud owner of a homologation certificate. In exchange for some more money they will deliver to you a valid technical control certificate, a car-pass, a valid identification plaque (it is rather like a sticker) and a stamp on the pink document you got many months ago at the customs. Your insurance company will also put a stamp on this pink document and in general they will accept this to finalise the registration of your vehicle with the Ministry of Transport.

Finally I want to make a note about the transport of the vehicle from UK to Belgium and in Belgium. Strictly speaking, I think you should always transport the vehicle on a lorry. I always drove the car, but asked the seller to tax it in UK. Probably in Belgium you risk a fine for driving a vehicle without valid documents, but it is most important to contact your insurance company before driving the car. My company delivered an insurance certificate valid for three months for free; but they had to prolong it several times.

Finally you will find below an overview of the different expenses I incurred to get my MGB V8 registered in Belgium.

CustomsLess than Euro 1
Technical inspection for homologation
Euro 99
Homologation certificateEuro 170
Technical inspectionEuro 50
Insurance & registrationEuro 256
Copyright reserved by the V8 Register