12 steps to importing your perfect van.

So, we finally found the van we think is for us. Its a 1991 Hymer S660 and it’s for sale in Germany, on mobile.de.

Here’s  a breakdown of what we did and how we imported the van we wanted for our travels…

We’d seen how desirable these classic Hymers are and how quickly they sell, so we knew had to move fast…

  1. We used rusty german and google translate to email the seller and find out as much as we could about the van – extra photos, seatbelts, what worked (and what didn’t). We made it clear that we were very interested, but didn’t want any surprises when we arrived in Germany to view it.
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  2. We asked the seller to organise the export plates for us. These are temporary german plates that keep you legal and insured third party to get the van out of mainland Europe. Ours were valid for four days. We just had to provide passport and driver licence details.
    Export Plates

    Our export plates for the van. The dates in the red block are when they expired.

  3. We didn’t pay a deposit, but sent the seller confirmation of our flight and asked him to hold the van for us.
  4. So, at this point, we have spent £30 on a Ryanair flight and the seller has spent €180 euros on export plates – so the risk is shared and not all ours…
  5. Having agreed a price, cheaper than it would be in the UK but not so cheap as to make us suspicious, we need to actually get the Euros. We wanted to fly out and bring the van back in a weekend (‘cos work…) so a cash purchase was easiest for us and Germany is one of the only countries in Europe where a cash purchase over €1,000 is legal.
  6. We had to use three different currency providers to get the euros together because of buying limits and no more than €2,500 could be sent in a single package, so we had packets of small denomination euros arriving in the post over a few days, with the last one arriving the day before I flew out to view and hopefully buy, our van.
  7. Late on Friday night I took a train to Stansted airport with hand luggage containing a sat nav (with european maps), a clean pair of pants and a ridiculous amount of Euros…
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  8. I flew out to Bremen in Northern germany early the following morning – it was snowing – which doesn’t bode well when you’re planning to drive a 4.6t motorhome across 2 countries that afternoon.
    Stanstead Airport

    A snowy Stansted

  9. When I arrived in Bremen I just had 2 trains to catch to take me to the middle of nowhere to exchange all my euros for our Hymer S660.
  10. In a barn in the remotest northern Germany the deal was done. The Hymer looked in good condition for 25 years old and the engine started and ran well. Euros were exchanged and I got behind the wheel with 5 hours to make it to the Hoek of Holland for the overnight ferry. 
    Driving Home

    Somewhere outside Oldenburg

  11. Worth Mentioning at this point that the export plates only cover you for getting the vehicle out of mainland Europe. From Harwich to home we had insurance on the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Most good insurers will do this for you and then when you get it registered in the UK you can just update the info with the new reg number.
  12. So, 48 hours after leaving North Wales I was back, behind the wheel of the van that will take us on our travels. The two day journey as tracked on the followmee app looked something like this…
    map of journey

    Lottie tracked my journey using the followmee app


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