There are many reasons drivers import new and used cars into the UK. For some, it’s a model, colour scheme or features that aren’t available at home, or a classic car that turns up abroad. Vehicle owners moving to the UK for work or study may want to bring their own car, for convenience. When the exchange rate is favourable, importing can represent a bargain even with the extra time it takes to sort out the paperwork. v
The process for importing a car can look complicated at first. The UK government issues an import pack to help you through the steps, which you can download from the www.gov.uk website. This contains all the forms you need, as well as guidance for filling them in. The company responsible for importing or shipping your vehicle may also be able to take care of the paperwork for you.
It is very important to take care of these details before driving the car in the UK. You should arrange to have it transported from the port to your home, rather than driving it, and keep it off the road until it is taxed and registered.
Both new and used cars must be declared to HM Revenue and Customs within 14 days of their arrival in the UK. For imports from the EU, there is an online service, Notification of Vehicle Arrivals (NOVA). You will need to pay any VAT or other duty owed on the car before you can register it with the DVLA.
You also need vehicle approval, to show the car conforms to British safety and environmental standards. For cars from the EU, this means applying to the manufacturer for a European Certificate of Conformity. You’ll also need a certificate of Mutual Recognition for left hand drive cars.
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After completing this process, you can register and tax your vehicle with the DVLA. Once you have successfully registered, you will be sent a registration certificate (V5C). You’ll need the V5C to have UK number plates made. If you are a British citizen, you cannot drive the car on the road until it has these. You will also need to take out an insurance policy, and older cars will require an MOT.
Drivers from abroad who aren’t moving to the UK permanently, and are bringing a car to the UK for less than six months, do not need to go through this process, as long as the car is registered and taxed in their home country.
Some motor traders have their own system for importing new cars on trade plates from outside the UK, designed so businesses that import vehicles regularly can save time on their applications. If the car of your dreams is outside the UK, having it imported by a company specialising in vehicle imports can save you time and trouble, too.