Ever noticed how no one really knows the full legal procedure of what is required to drive a car with foreign license plates in Lebanon? These are typical conversations I hear every couple of days:
â€œIza bteshtriya men barra, fik ma tedfa3 el gumruk (Import tax), bas baddak etdahhera 3al 7doud elsouriyye kel 6 months 3ala fatret 2 yearsâ€
â€œLa2 man, inta gheltan, ghayyaro el2anoun. Sar lezem etrajje3 el siyyara 3al source. Iza sheriya men Dubai, lezem etrajje3a 3a Dubai. W kamen el siyyara lezem etkoun bi esm wa7ad 3ando residency permit. W saret 3 years, mesh 2 yearsâ€
â€œTayyeb iza sheriya men California? Baddi 7etta 3al bekhra marra kel 6 months w redda 3a LA? Aslan min khabbarak hal khabriyye?â€
â€œFi wa7ad ba3rfo, bya3ref wa7ad 3ammo byeshteghel 3and wa7ad bel gamerekâ€
I stopped by the Audi dealership in Mar Mikhael a couple of weeks ago to check out the Audi A3 ($45,000). After talking to the salesman for a couple of minutes, he asked me if I travel often. I told him I travel every other week for work. He informed that they had just started a program whereby you can buy a car in Lebanon with Lebanese license plates (with the letter â€œMâ€) without paying the gumruk.
Here are the conditions:
– Valid passport
– Travel at least twice a year
– Have the full amount of the vehicle including the gumruk ($45,000)
– Pay $27,000 for the car and freeze $18,000 in the bank for 3 years
– Go to the dealership every 6 months to renew the â€œdealâ€ (Iâ€™m guessing it involves bribing people left and right as well)
– After three years either pay the amortized gumruk (~30% of $18,000) or sell the vehicle
– Validity: 3 years
The salesman did not seem very confident about the â€œrulesâ€. Apparently, they started the program last summer and one entire cycle hasnâ€™t been completed to see what problems people might face at the end of the 3rd year. I asked him how much do I have to pay every 6 months and to whom, his answer was â€œma ba3ref, shi 400-500$ la wa7ad mna3rfo bi zabbet mou3emalet.â€ When a salesman tells you â€œma ba3refâ€, would you buy a car from him? 400-500$? It could easily be $1,000
How much easier would it be if there was a government website with all the rules and regulations concerning this subject? It doesnâ€™t need to be something complex, just simple rules that a normal citizen can follow without having to bribe people.