Import your car to the UK?

When does it make sense

Many people get emotionally attached to their cars. If you are moving, or moving back to the UK - thinking about taking your car with you probably sounds too complicated and too expensive. This is not always the case.

Import your car to the UK?

There are four main factors that influence why you might want to import a car to the UK:

  1. It’s really special to you
  2. It’s really special and valuable (rare, classic, supercar, etc.)
  3. You bought it new, it’s in great condition and is worth a lot more to you than selling it locally
  4. You bought it in a place with no or low tax so it’s a good economic decision to bring it with you

Even if you know you want to bring it with you, you can probably guess that the process might be complicated and expensive

What do I need to do?

There is not a simple answer to this question as it depends on the age of the vehicle, its model and where it is coming from. We cannot cover all of the details here (we have some info here and ShipMyCar provides some detailed country guides ), but here are some of the basics which may or may not apply depending on the car:

  • Organise the shipping: the physical transfer of the vehicle
  • Organise and pay import duties and taxes (if the vehicle is less than 6 months old, you will also need to pay VAT at 20%)
  • IVA and MOT tests: depending on the vehicle it may need modifications to comply with UK regulations (e.g. lighting, exhausts, bumpers, window tinting, etc.) - these can really add up - you can get more information on this on the official UK Gov site 
  • DVLA registration

It’s complicated and - although possible to ‘do on your own’ - it’s one of those things where a professional service provider is probably the best choice.

Making a decision

You need to work out how much it is going to cost (time and money) and weigh that against the value your car has for you. Make sure you are working with the full import costs and not missing anything (ShipMyCar has an instant online quote system  which separates out the costs and is a great starting point).

A good idea is to start with the economics: if the cost of importing the car plus its potential resale value in the UK is not much different than what you can sell it for now, then it makes sense. Then add in your emotional factors and the fact that you’ll continue to be able to drive it - how much is that worth to you?

Add it all up and make the right decision. Happy motoring!

There are four main factors that influence why you might want to import a car to the UK:

  1. It’s really special to you
  2. It’s really special and valuable (rare, classic, supercar, etc.)
  3. You bought it new, it’s in great condition and is worth a lot more to you than selling it locally
  4. You bought it in a place with no or low tax so it’s a good economic decision to bring it with you

Even if you know you want to bring it with you, you can probably guess that the process might be complicated and expensive

What do I need to do?

There is not a simple answer to this question as it depends on the age of the vehicle, its model and where it is coming from. We cannot cover all of the details here (we have some info here and ShipMyCar provides some detailed country guides ), but here are some of the basics which may or may not apply depending on the car:

  • Organise the shipping: the physical transfer of the vehicle
  • Organise and pay import duties and taxes (if the vehicle is less than 6 months old, you will also need to pay VAT at 20%)
  • IVA and MOT tests: depending on the vehicle it may need modifications to comply with UK regulations (e.g. lighting, exhausts, bumpers, window tinting, etc.) - these can really add up - you can get more information on this on the official UK Gov site 
  • DVLA registration

It’s complicated and - although possible to ‘do on your own’ - it’s one of those things where a professional service provider is probably the best choice.

Making a decision

You need to work out how much it is going to cost (time and money) and weigh that against the value your car has for you. Make sure you are working with the full import costs and not missing anything (ShipMyCar has an instant online quote system  which separates out the costs and is a great starting point).

A good idea is to start with the economics: if the cost of importing the car plus its potential resale value in the UK is not much different than what you can sell it for now, then it makes sense. Then add in your emotional factors and the fact that you’ll continue to be able to drive it - how much is that worth to you?

Add it all up and make the right decision. Happy motoring!

Does this article help?

Do you have any comments, updates or questions on this topic? Ask them here: