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We want to travel Europe for a year or so in a car we buy over there. Can we do that and what about insurance?

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    I suspect that registering the car will be more difficult than insuring it. What sort of visa or visas are you planning to get? If you won't have a residence in Europe, leasing a car is probably a better option. – phoog Aug 19 '18 at 2:34
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In France, it is possible for tourists to lease a "transit temporaire" vehicle. This is a scheme whereby a new car for use by non-residents can be registered tax free, and is then rented to for a temporary period, deferring the taxes. At the end of the period, the manufacturer gets the car back, and pays the taxes on the (now depreciated) vehicle. Due to the tax advantages, you're unlikely to find a cheaper way to rent a car, and this is much easier to organise than buying a car. The car receives an attractive pair of red registration plates.

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This is beneficial for the tourist and for the car manufacturer, so several French car manufacturers offer this service, including Renault, Peugeot, and Citroen.

The length of lease possible seems to vary based on your situation. Insurance is included. The car can be delivered to locations outside France if required. Since the service is explicitly targeted at non-residents, you must prove that you aren't resident in the EU in order to qualify.

In order to compare the different schemes available you should search for "europe tax free lease".

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Europe is still 27/28 different countries with as many different legislations. So it will be hard to answer your question in general. For each single country you may get answers here.

So let me start with Germany:

Of course, you can buy a car, but obviously you will have to insure and register it. In Germany, this is going to be the sequence of things, i.e. you first have to buy insurance, then you go and get the car registered. In order to register a car in Germany, you will have to be a resident, which I guess you will no be able to produce.

That means either you have any nice person (relatives?) living in Germany which will register the car on your behalf or you will be out of luck.

Please note that AFAIK the UK (part of the EU until March 2019) does not have that concept of registered address, so it may be easier there. Also of course as you can do everything in English there.

Just be aware that the UK is one of the very few countries in Europe which drives on the left. It may turn out very inconvenient if you buy a right hand steering car in the UK and then spend most of your time in continental Europe where we drive on the "right" side of the street.

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    As a UK citizen living in Germany, driving on the "wrong" side of the road really isn't that big a deal. More to the point, the OP needs to be aware that most UK (and German) cars are manuals (stick-shift); automatics are not unknown, but they are definitely less common than in the US. – Martin Bonner Aug 20 '18 at 7:50
  • The European Union contains "27/28 different countries," but Europe includes several more, including Norway, Serbia, Ukraine, Andorra, and parts of Turkey and Russia. – phoog Aug 20 '18 at 14:57
  • We do have good friends in the UK so I will ask them about the possibilities. – LACochrane Aug 20 '18 at 18:32
  • Note that France, just like the UK, has no concept of registered address (and no mandatory ID law). That's not to say that things like registering a car do not require you to be a resident or produce some form of ID, cf. gov.uk/vehicle-registration/new-registrations or service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F10293. – Relaxed Aug 20 '18 at 19:04

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