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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey everyone,

Greg here from San Diego, CA! Long time reader, first time poster on this forum.

Over the past few months I've researched various aspects of van conversions / van life, most importantly trying to figure out which van I should go with - transit, sprinter, promaster, etc. I'm happy to announce that I recently purchased a very gently used 2019 Ford Transit MR LWB 3.7L beauty (~3000mi on the odometer) which i'll be converting over the next few months. I have many of you to thank for your helpful posts, leading me to decide on the Transit. So for that, I thank you!

I purchased the van from a dealer in New Jersey (where I'm originally from), where it is currently awaiting shipment to Europe where I plan to have it converted by a family friend who specializes in converting vans for the European market. Once it's ready to go, i'll travel around Europe (France, Italy, etc) for a few weeks scoring some spring skiing in the alps prior to shipping it back to the states.

This van will likely serve as an extended weekend home on wheels. My wife and I make very frequent trips to the Sierra Nevada (Mammoth Lakes, Bishop, Tahoe) to ski, climb and hike; we're hoping we can venture further out into PNW and Midwest with our new rig.

I plan to share posts detailing the shipping, build, adventures. Stay tuned!

Cheers,
Greg

131856
 

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Welcome !

Looks like you and your Transit will be visiting a lot of places we can't drive ours to. ;)

Semper Fi
 

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Sounds exciting to have converted van in Europe :) I am not quite clear if I follow you. The van is currently in NJ and waiting to be shipped to Europe for the conversion. After that, you will fly to Europe for the weekends to ski. Soon after you will ship your van back to the States and explore the west coast.
It seems that is a lot to shipping around..... :p
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Sounds exciting to have converted van in Europe :) I am not quite clear if I follow you. The van is currently in NJ and waiting to be shipped to Europe for the conversion. After that, you will fly to Europe for the weekends to ski. Soon after you will ship your van back to the States and explore the west coast.
It seems that is a lot to shipping around..... :p
The conversion is happening in Europe and I’m going to fly there once it’s complete and go on a road trip. Once that’s done, I’m shipping it back to the US where it’ll be used as a weekend rig.

I wish I could fly to Europe for the weekends!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
In what country will the conversion be done?
I'd be interested in what you have/will learn regarding VAT refunds in Europe and US import duties on the value added?
Thanks
Hey, the conversion is happening in Poland. I'm importing the van on a temporary basis, meaning that I can keep it in the EU for up to six months without paying customs duty or VAT (which is well within my timeframe for the build and my road trip). EU customs does, however, require you to pay a fairly hefty bond when doing a temporary import, which gets paid back at time of export (30-60% of the value of the vehicle). Some people have reported not having to pay this, depending on country / port within the EU.

Once it's back in the US, the van won't be subject to customs duty or VAT on the van itself since it will still be registered in the US. I'm still trying to figure out how/if customs will assess the materials installed in the van; that's tbd at this point. If anyone has any info on this, i'd be interested in hearing from ya.

Since it's my first time doing something like this, I have a general sense of the process but I won't know for sure until I actually go through it. It seems like every party I speak with (shipper, customs broker, etc..) have a different story. In any case, i'm excited to figure it out.
 

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How do the US customs officials know the difference between what you left the US with and what you are coming back with in your van?
 

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How do the US customs officials know the difference between what you left the US with and what you are coming back with in your van?
They don't, they assume most people do not want to become criminals.
There is nothing to stop someone from putting their van on a RO-RO to Europe get it built out and return on a RO-RO go through Customs and declare nothing.
 

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Sounds exciting. Just out of curiosity what is the quoted cost to ship a vehicle across the Atlantic these days? Last time I looked into it was fifteen years ago. Also, what do you have planned for the conversion in Poland?
 

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I'm still trying to figure out how/if customs will assess the materials installed in the van; that's tbd at this point. If anyone has any info on this, i'd be interested in hearing from ya.
From prior research CBP will use the Harmonized Tariff Schedule if you declare IIRC over $800. You have to declare every article you purchased in Europe. IIRC the impact on stuff bought for personal use is small.

You can pre-screen the items your getting by using the HTS.

Of course verify for yourself and good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
They don't, they assume most people do not want to become criminals.
There is nothing to stop someone from putting their van on a RO-RO to Europe get it built out and return on a RO-RO go through Customs and declare nothing.
Yeah, that's exactly the question I had and what I assumed. I personally want to keep this legal so will be researching what / how much to declare. Luckily I have a few more months to figure it out haha.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
From prior research CBP will use the Harmonized Tariff Schedule if you declare IIRC over $800. You have to declare every article you purchased in Europe. IIRC the impact on stuff bought for personal use is small.

You can pre-screen the items your getting by using the HTS.

Of course verify for yourself and good luck.
Thanks for the link! Will look into this.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Sounds exciting. Just out of curiosity what is the quoted cost to ship a vehicle across the Atlantic these days? Last time I looked into it was fifteen years ago. Also, what do you have planned for the conversion in Poland?
I was quoted $1400 Newark to Poland. It's actually much cheaper if you ship to Bremerhaven, DE (around $1100) or Belgium, assuming because it's less distance.

I'm still working on the design in Sketchup, but it's going to be rather extensive (heating, cooking, sleeping, solar, etc.)! Will share a few renderings when I can.
 
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