How To Register An Imported Car In The UK

May 16, 2019 4 min read
How To Register An Imported Car In The UK

Once you’ve imported your dream classic, it’s time to register it for use on British roads. Here’s how to navigate your way through an administrative minefield…

Importing a rare and desirable classic into the UK is a tempting prospect for many car enthusiasts, evidenced by the many thousands who do exactly that each year. Getting the vehicle shipped over and delivered onto the mainland is just part of the process, though, and the registration process once it’s finally here can seem quite daunting – especially if you are unsure of what needs to be done.

An influx of cheap new foreign cars from abroad that could destabilise the local motor industry is clearly undesirable, so the HMRC has gone to considerable lengths to prevent this. However, when it comes to classic cars the rules are slightly different. There’s not much economic risk in allowing a decades-old Ford Mustang to putter around between classic shows, and in light of this, there are a number of allowances that make it easier to get your older, freshly imported pride and joy fit for the UK’s roads.

The procedures are still somewhat onerous, though, so we have taken some of the confusion out of them in our handy registration guide.

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Taxes and paperwork

If you have used a shipper to get your car into the country – and it’s quite likely that you have – then they will take care of some of the steps as part of the import process.

Worldwide shipping experts, West Coast Shipping, help clients navigate the process of registering their vehicles with HMRC and the DVLA. They are able to help fill in the gaps for buyers since definitive information isn’t available online and the DVLA sends out a complicated import pack full of forms to complete.

While this is a very helpful service, some aspects – such as insurance and bringing the car into line with UK road regulations – are generally up to you to sort out. It’s also worth being aware of the various steps required for registration, whether or not you are directly involved.

Will I have to pay import tax?

The first step once your car lands in the UK is to inform HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) of the fact. This should be within 14 days to avoid any penalties, and can be done using the Notification of Vehicles Arrivals (NOVA) online tool. A paper notification option is also available, but there is no reason to go this route unless you enjoy waiting.

The relevant taxes and VAT that need to be paid will then be calculated. If the car was manufactured within the EU, is over six months old and has done more than 3750 miles/6000km, no taxes should be due.

If you are a private individual or are importing the car through a non-VAT-registered business, then you will not be required to fill in the NOVA form. However, don’t get excited just yet, as you will still need to contact the HMRC to find out exactly which alternate forms you will need to fill in.

How to notify DVLA

Once you have made any necessary payments, the HMRC will provide online confirmation that the vehicle can be registered with the DVLA. For this process you will need to apply for a used vehicle import pack or V55/5 form.

According to the Government website portal: ‘You can’t download it because it includes features that can’t be printed.’ Right, so this means you will have to get it posted (UK addresses only) and you may as well include the V355/5 form, which is a guide to help you fill out the V55/5 form.

It’s a good thing, then, that shippers such as West Coast Shipping can take care of the majority of this procedure on your behalf. Not all of the points below may apply to your particular situation, however, so it’s worth being aware of what may be required even if you outsource the task.

*You must send in an original non-UK registration document, which won’t be returned. Didn’t get this with the car? Then you must ask the manufacturer for a letter with a dating certificate.

*Use the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to get a Certificate of insurance.

*Obtain a new MoT certificate (or SORN notification). Some modifications may also need to be carried out before the car can legally be driven in Britain, such as the fitment of amber indicator lenses – but more on that below.

*Photocopy evidence of your name and address. A UK driving license or passport for the former and current utility bill for the latter will be fine. Importing the car through a business? You must provide proof of your business address.

*Evidence of Type Approval. This means a Certificate of Conformity (for RHD vehicles), Mutual Recognition Certificate (LHD vehicles require this, too) or evidence of previous UK registration (V5C form). Not got any of these forms, or the car was registered outside of the EU? You must have an Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) test done.

*Vehicle Approval may not be required if your car was first registered or manufactured more than ten years ago.

*The first registration fee of £55 may need to be paid. This can be sent to the DVLA only via cheque or postal order; frustratingly, there is no online payment system as of yet.

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