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Importing a Car into the UK

There are a number of conditions to meet if you are importing a car into the UK. These are explained below and exist to ensure that the vehicle is safe, roadworthy, meets environmental legislation and is correctly registered with valid insurance. The DVLA provide a vehicle import pack with all the necessary paperwork.

Requirements for UK Car Imports

Any vehicle imported into the UK must comply with the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 and also the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989. The first covers aspects such as vehicle size, power, brakes, wheels, tyres, steering, instruments and number plates. The second relates to vehicle lighting, for example, blue lights are not permitted except on emergency vehicles and red lights are not permitted on the front.

Relevant documents should also be produced to prove either that a vehicle meets environmental and safety regulations or has an exemption. This could include a European Certificate of Conformity, type approval certificate and/or certificate of Mutual Recognition. The latter is for EU-registered vehicles.

When importing a car into the UK, any applicable VAT, tax and duties need to be paid. The driver needs to register the vehicle with the DVLA and insure it with a UK insurer. It is not permissible to drive or keep the vehicle on public roads until all this has been done, with the exception of driving to essential pre-booked registration appointments.

Temporarily Importing a Vehicle

Cars do not need to be taxed or registered, or to display UK number plates, if they are taxed and registered in another country, only being used for six out of twelve months and the driver is visiting the UK for less than six months.

VAT and Tax on Vehicles from Inside and Outside the EU

Drivers importing cars from inside the EU need a certificate of Mutual Recognition, which states that the vehicle is suitable for use in the UK. HMRC should be informed via a Notification of Vehicle Arrivals (NOVA) form within 14 days of arrival. Vehicle tax is required upon registration and, unless already paid in another EU country, VAT must be paid.

Customs relief may apply if importing from outside the UK, providing certain residency and other criteria are met. Duty and VAT are not paid on vehicles from outside the EU if registered to a non-EU resident and the vehicle is imported temporarily, usually for a maximum of six months, and it is not sold or hired in the EU. HMRC must be informed via the NOVA form and VAT paid if these conditions do not apply.

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Registering a Vehicle

Several original documents are required for registering a vehicle, including a Mutual Recognition form, V267 form, foreign motor trade registration documents and relevant HMRC forms showing VAT and tax has been paid.

Your vehicle will also be subject to the IVA scheme if it is less than 10 years old, and requires first licensing and registration in the UK.

The Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) scheme is a pre-registration inspection for vehicles that haven’t been type approved to British or European standards. The purpose of the scheme is to ensure that these vehicles are designed and constructed to suitable safety standards before they are used on public roads.


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