I suppose most will be quite aware of my good, no, great news! Most would be familiar because of recent Twitter and Facebook posts, as well as email to family and friends. But, in case you are not in the know, I now shout as loud as I can via the virtual world:
I have now received my Belgian license plate!!!
The reason I shout it is due to the incredibly long process – about 3 weeks shy of a 2-year process, that is. I guess I should have known from the beginning it might be a long process when the US export company first shipped my car to Germany, rather than where I live – in Belgium. Then, once the import company in Belgium received my car, they tried to charge me all of the taxes, which totalled the better part of €2600 ($3350). I had to prove to them that I did not owe the taxes because I owned the car at least 6 months prior to moving to Belgium and that this was part of moving my personal effects with me to Belgium. The Belgian law states that, if this is the case, then I owe nothing.
But, during that whole exchange with the import company, while they had written custom clearance papers as if I were paying the taxes, they did not rewrite the custom clearance papers for my current case in which I did not owe the taxes. So I left with the car, but no custom’s papers (I didn’t know I needed new ones at the time). Thus, I, first, spent 6 months trying to find a way to get those.
Then, once I got those papers and officially cleared customs, I believe I waited 6 or 7 months for the Ministry of Mobility (Transportation) to send me the first document from their office to set in motion the process of getting my car officially registered in Belgium. After receiving those first Ministry papers, I headed multiple times to Controle Technique (where they examine your car to make sure it is up to Belgian standard). Each time I was told more changes needed to be done to the car. I finally passed Controle Technique on the fourth time.
Following that, it took about 6 to 7 weeks to receive the last bill to pay to the Ministry of Mobility. Once I paid that, they sent me the final paper to set in motion the process to pick up my license plate, which happened this past Monday, 16 August 2010.
The funny thing is that I had not been driving my car for two and a half months, as the local police said I could no longer drive the car with my Tennessee US license plate. Understandable, but frustrating knowing I had been trying to do everything I could to get my Belgian plate. So, after affixing the plate temporarily to my car, I started it and put it in reverse to back out of my friend’s drive. But the back, right tire would not move. The brake had rusted and the tire would not move. So I couldn’t even celebrate on that day by driving it.
But, the next day I had a garage come out and unlock the brake. And the following day they cleaned out the brake, as well as properly affix both the front and rear license plates to the car. Now we are able to drive anywhere and everywhere. I almost want to just drive around all of Belgium showing off my new license plate. But, alas, no one would car, not to mention I need to conserve gas-petrol. But I did kiss the license plate as if I had won the championship! You can see in the pic here.
In all, I did learn a lot through the frustrating process. I did learn patience. So much that, by the end of the process, I tried to take everything in stride as part of the process. It wasn’t always easy, but I learned quite a lot through it all.