While enjoying some days in the sun in Vilanova y la Geltru, time for a little write-up on how we got our caravan.
When we started to look into getting a caravan, we learned a couple of things.
First, the depreciation of caravans is slow. When looking for second-hand caravans you often see prices which are only marginally lower than the list prices of equivalent new caravans.
Second, caravan prices in Sweden are several thousand Swedish kronor above the prices in neighbouring countries, like Denmark or Germany. Even with the additional costs of travel, ferry, hotel and import you can still safe save a considerable amount of money buying your caravan outside of Sweden.
Taking these two things into account we decided to buy a new caravan in Germany and import it. If we did not like it, we could still sell it and walk away without losing money.
We found a pretty good guide on how to buy and import a caravan from Germany here. The site is in Swedish, so let me quickly summarize the steps.
First, you need to to find your caravan. Our days this is quite easy via the internet. There are several websites you can use. Personally, we found our caravan on caraworld.de.
Once you found a few potential candidates, it is time to call and get more information. Make a list of the questions you want to ask. Don't forget to ask about payment options. We contacted several sellers who would insist on some sort of pre-payment. Something we did not feel comfortable with. We wanted to pay on the spot, preferably via a bank transfer which usually happens within a day (even between Sweden and Germany). We decided to take the risk of an additional night in Germany in case the money would not arrive in time.
The plan was to drive to Germany, inspect the caravan, close the deal, wire the money and then sleep one night in a hotel. The next day the money had arrived, you pick up the caravan, deal with the administrative things and finally, you are back on the road to Sweden.
For us, everything went according to plan. One evening I took the Göteborg-Kiel ferry and arrived early in the morning in Kiel. Then I drove a couple of hours to Wietmarschen where the caravan dealer was located. I inspected the caravan, did a bit of bargaining and signed all papers. Then I made the bank transfer. By that time it was late afternoon and I used the remaining day to find the nearest Fahrzeugzulassung.
The next day I drove to the dealer, got my papers and drove with the caravan into town. Initially, I was hoping that I would be able to do the registration without the caravan, but you need to take it with you. During the process, the person of the Fahrzeugzulassung needs to verify the chassis number. This was really a bit tricky. The Fahrzeugzulassung was in Nordhorn on a small road. It was really hard to find parking and I was, of course, a bit nervous driving with the caravan for the first time. In the end, I parked across two handicapped car parks. I am sorry, but it was the only option I could see and I thought, I rather pay a fine than trying to parallel park on the first day with the caravan.
As part of the registration, you get an export license plate and you have to buy a temporary insurance for the caravan. The insurance office is either in the same building or nearby. All is pretty straightforward, but being able to speak German for sure helped. By 2 pm I was all ready and on my way to Rostock where I was planning to take the Rostock-Trelleborg ferry back to Sweden.
Once back in Sweden, I needed to visit the Transportstyrelsens website and start the process of importing the caravan into Sweden, a so-called ursprungskontroll. You will need to send in the original registration papers and once approved you will book a time for a registreringsbesiktning with bilprovningen. Once this is all done, you will receive your new Swedish license plates within a few working days.
Overall the above-mentioned guide on how to import a caravan into Sweden was very accurate. One thing which has changed so is that you don't have to pay the difference in VAT (19% in Germany, 25% in Sweden) anymore. A pleasant surprise and additional bonus. Overall we ended up saving around 30000 SEK :-).