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I live in the UK and have family in Salzburg, Austria. Whenever I see a cheap flight to Munich or Salzburg (before covid) I fly across the weekend and rent a car. I'm adding up my rental costs over the last 2 years and I could buy a car!

Owning a car in Austria is expensive. The cars are more expensive and I am placed in the highest insurance category (1-9) which works out at approximately 250eur per month. In Austria the cost of insurance is also linked to engine size...bigger engine more cost.

I'm thinking of getting a second hand left hand drive car in the UK, insuring it for 12mth European cover and then driving across and leaving it in Austria. That way whenever I go I have a car to use. I am being quoted £300 per yr for European 12 months insurance. I plan to drive the car back once per year for the MOT and renewal of the insurance.

Is there a better way to do this? I have seen some good left hand drive cars but they are still registered in Spain/France etc. The UK registered cars lights have been modified as have the speedometer.

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    Does the 12 month cover allow you to leave the car in Europe for the entire 12 months (or most of)? We have similar coverage here (US/Mexico) where I can buy 12 month cover but I can only take the car into the US for a set number of days per year, or a set length of trip – Midavalo Jun 15 at 18:56
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    I can see problems if the Austrian authorities catch on to you having imported a car but avoided any import taxes and compliance with local licensing and roadworthiness requirements. – user105640 Jun 15 at 20:46
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    I can rent a small car in Salzburg for 100 Euros for the weekend. I would expect car ownership to cost you about 2000 Euros a year. Are you really there 20 times a year? – DJClayworth Jun 15 at 21:26
  • I believe there was a similar question in the past. The main issue was not the insurance but the tax. When the car is parked most of the time in Austria it should be registered there. – Bernhard Döbler Jun 15 at 22:08
  • Referring to the title, do you mean long road trips or do you mean frequent road trips? The title says the former, but the text of the question points to the latter. @DJClayworth's comment is certainly worth considering. – DavidSupportsMonica Jun 16 at 2:22
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This plan will probably be considered a by passing of Austrian (and most other countries) laws.

In theory, since you are not an Austrian resident you are not required to register the car after 1 month.

But since the car will (I assume) remain by your family, that are residents of Austria, it will be assumed that the car is being used by Austrian residents.

This will be considered a form of tax fraud, since the Austrian road system will be used without paying the taxes that finance that system.

Assume as a general rule: Where the car is predominantly being used, is where it should be registered.


Registration rules
If you have your main residence in Austria, you may use your car or trailer with foreign number plates only for one month in Austria. The one-month period starts when the vehicle is first imported into the country. A temporary removal of the vehicle from Austria does not interrupt this period.

A one-month extension is possible if there are convincing arguments as to why you couldn't register your car on time. No further extension is possible.

When the registration periods expires, you have to hand in your registration certificate and foreign number plates to the relevant regional police headquarters or district authority. From then on, you must use Austrian number plates, for which an Austrian car registration is required. If you fail to register your car on time, you will need to pay penalties.


Sources:

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    Most of this answer is probably incorrect. The general rule, at least in most EU countries, is that you register your car where your primary residence is. It is of no matter where the car is predominantly being used and it will in most cases not even be possible to register a car in a location where you are not resident. Assuming that the car will be illegaly used by the Austrian family just because it is parked there is just as far-fetched as to assume that my grandmother will drive my car without a driver's license just because I park my car there. No court will follow that logic. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Jun 16 at 17:54
  • In addition, the Austrian roads are at least partly financed through a car toll. So the part about tax fraud is at least partly wrong. – Erik Jun 19 at 8:19
  • @Erik If you mean the Maut for the Autobahn, that for the usage of the Autobahn and not the general public road system. So that excuse will not hold. – Mark Johnson Jun 19 at 9:05

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