You know when your car tax, insurance and MOT all fall at the same time? It’s a hassle isn’t it? Getting the car booked into the garage, crossing your fingers that it’s OK, getting online to renew the insurance etc. We used to think it was a big hassle – but now, having just done the whole shebang for two cars in Istria, we didn’t know we were born, doing it back in England…

We’re lucky enough to have two cars – one, a Fiat Punto (which it seems, by law, that everyone in Istria who can drive, must have) which is more of a run-around car, but which is insured for visitors to drive. The other is the main car, a Honda CRV – with a spec good enough for long distance travel. We are also lucky to have a family run garage, who look after us – because the bureaucracy of car ownership is not easy here. Last year, when we bought the cars from them, they did all of the paperwork for us – even insuring the cars in their name, so that we could built up sufficient no claims to get good discount next time around. And, “next time around” is here. Again, luckily, the garage contacted us to remind us it was time to renew and that they had the paperwork ready.

The Punto had to be done first so off we went to the garage, thinking we’d be home in no time, as this was the easier one. Paperwork collected, we were then informed we had to to go to the Tehnički Pregled Vozila – the state run company which tests the car for road-worthiness. Off we set, in the pouring rain, to join a queue. No making appointments here – you turn up with your insurance paperwork, pay a fee and join the queue. Then the fun begins…

You wait until you are at the front of the queue, then the car is dealt with – we just followed what other people were doing. Which basically meant hanging around a big garage – with absolutely no nod to Health & Safety – as the car was hoisted up and tested. There was even a bar next to the garage – it could even have been part of the garage – where people who were waiting, to presumably drive away, were having a beer or a vino. All very civilised. Except it was only 11am and we were in a garage!

At the end of the process, a sticker was stuck on the windscreen – and this explained finally what the sticker was. The car has passed. We were then ushered into the office to pay the next fee – god knows what the first fee had been for. Maybe to just queue up? Being wise to Croatian ways, we had been to the bank and got cash, so what could possibly go wrong and mean that we wouldn’t spend a whole day getting the car sorted?

“Problemo!” said the woman processing the papers. The car identification number, on our car papers, did not correlate with the insurance papers. The last two digits (from a reference number consisting of about 278 digits) were mixed up. We had to go and sort this before the car would be signed off. The woman wasn’t entirely sure where we’d have to go (FFS!) but helpfully told us that there was an insurance office, just around the corner from the garage. So off we went to Croatia Osiguranje, to get our digits sorted. The guy could only speak Italian. Through persistence, we worked out that no, he couldn’t alter the incorrect digits on the insurance document – bearing in mind, we are in the insurance office – we’d have to go back to the garage we bought the car from…

So, we head back to the garage we bought the car from. Yes, an investigation of the documents does confirm that the two numbers do not match – but they never have done! Only the eagle eyes of the woman in the MOT garage spotted it – which means that we were lucky we never had to make a claim on this particular car as I cannot imagine the can of worms that would have opened up! But this also meant that the car garage could not rectify the disrepancy. You guessed it – only the insurance company could! So, we settled in for a long wait as numerous phone calls/emails went back and forth – eventually receiving the correct documentation, meaning we could return to the MOT garage and resume the process there.

Thankfully, having paid the next bill with which we were presented, the documents were stamped and we were legit for the next 12 months. For the Fiat. The whole palaver had to be repeated a few days later for the CRV – but that’s another blog, as this brought about a whole new set of things for us to get our heads around.

And, we now understand – totally – why there is a bar attached to the MOT garage…

 

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