Algarve – GNR sweep April 2017

Our car got arrested by the GNR last week.

We found out our fate on Friday. A trip to Portimão on the orders of the Algarve GNR sealed the future of our aged VW Touran. Here are the facts and figures.

Because we have had the car in Portugal for more than 6 months, we got fined €375.

We have had the car valued locally, and the best offer was €1,000. The car is worth more, but we cannot get more than a grand for it.

We were told that as we had semi-Portuguesed it by getting it taxed here, MOTd here and having Portuguese residencia, we were getting fined at the same rate as Portuguese nationals. If we had not done these things, the fine would have been €8,000 (eight thousand).

On top of the fine, we got 3 options as to what we can do with the car. Option 1 is to drive it out of Portugal and keep it out of Portugal. It boils down to keeping the car for 6 months here per year and 6 months in another country. This option was dramatic. We would have to inform them when we were driving the car out, which border crossing we were using, get a form stating all this, and get the form stamped at the border to confirm the car’s deportation.

Option 2 is to pay the import tax to bring the car into the country. This appears to be calculated on the value of the car at new, not what it is worth as a 12 year-old. To import it, the tax would be €10,000 (ten thousand). On a car that cost us €6,000 and has a resale value of €1,000, that does not make sense.

Option 3 is to hand the car over to Portugal. The government can put Portuguese plates on it for free. We were told the car would then be offered to a school, to a bombeiros station, or to a GNR station, to see if one of these units could use it for service provision. However, it appears the requirements on CO2 emissions are to be tightened up around Portugal, and a 12-year old diesel is unlikely to survive the cull.

We are going to hand the car over as neither option 1 nor option 2 make sense. The car is LHD, so it must have been built for the continent, but someone had re-badged it for the UK. As to whether it gets scrapped or not, time will tell. I would rate it as having a value of 6,000 to 10,000 euros with Portuguese plates, so I think it will simply disappear into the Portuguese system.

The trip to Portimão was revealing. At every other roundabout on the N125 there were 4 or 5 GNR cars, with queues of 2 to 6 cars with foreign plates. It is difficult to get straight information about what is going on. One story we were told is that the crack down is because the UK has triggered BREXIT, but frankly, that sounds weak. All cars with foreign plates are being stopped, not just UK ones. Then there is the emissions angle, which makes slightly more sense. However, it looks like the GNR are being used as tax collectors. If our car was new, we would have little choice but to stump up an import tax. No doubt a lot of those trapped on the N125 yesterday will have to pour a lot of shekels in Portugal’s coffers.

The impact on us is not financial. The car was getting old, and a replacement was under very active consideration. It’s the timing which is unfortunate. We have moved our largest items to Portelas already. We were building our VW into the move because it could swallow 98% of what we have left. Now we have lost that load-carrying capacity we have a problem. But don’t worry, we have a plan B. In fact, we have two plan Bs.

We are moving to Portelas.

Latest breaking news. It seems we can flog it for 1,000€, and the buyer regularly transports arrested cars out of Portugal in a totally legal manner through a legal shipper. We are now awaiting news of when the vehicle carrier will be in Portugal for its next shipment.


2 thoughts on “Algarve – GNR sweep April 2017

  1. I handed my French car over 30 years back. I knew the rule and that they would request it sooner or later and didn’t protest. New cars pay enormous taxes here, that’s why. To escape this some people used to have 2 cars and change every 6 months, implying a trip to Spain and storage also. Well off people, of course, isn’t that ridiculous ?
    Now I wonder how they can check when and where you passed a frontier in the Schengen space where there’s no control, on a regular basis at least.

    • I have a sister in Spain so swapping every 6 months would have been possible, but a pain in the neck.

      The check mechanism suggested re a border crossing was tripe. This has been confirmed by someone who makes an earner out of taking ‘arrested’ cars across the border and selling them on (without ever owning the car in the interim). We got a fraction of the car’s value, but it was a lot better than handing it over. The car was sold by our intermediary to someone in Spain within days, the buyer came to collect it, and it went to Spain around a week ago.

      We are led to believe that Spain has a similar import system and rules, but that is not our problem.

      We are 99% sure the car had already been imported to Portugal, probably new, but we didn’t have the paperwork to prove it. Someone replated it with British plates, which caused a problem that we were not aware of when we bought it.

      Looking on the bright side, we had outgrown what the car was best for, and we have purchased a smaller car which is better suited to the backs roads around our new home (if we ever manage to move in).

      Switching tack completely to Madeleine McCann, I am getting stuck into the activity around the 10th anniversary of her disappearance. Can you give me a heads-up on what is happening or planned in the Portuguese press and media? I know you are much more plugged into that than I am.

      Best wishes from Luz,

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