Import and registration of vehicles in the UK

When arriving in the UK you might want to bring your own motor vehicle or motorcycle with you. To do this you will have to import and register your motor vehicle or motorcycle.

If you are planning to permanently import a vehicle into the UK you must first be able to show that they meet the necessary safety and environmental standards. To do this, the following documents are required:

  • If your vehicle is a right-hand drive, a European Certificate of Conformity must be obtained from the manufacturer of the vehicle.
  • If left-hand drive, a Certificate of Mutual Recognition  is also required in addition to the above.
  • If the vehicle does not have European approval, you can apply for an Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) .

Furthermore, if your vehicle is 10 years old or more (from date of manufacture or first registration), you must contact the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency  (DVLA).

Importing from within the EU

VAT must be paid when importing a vehicle from within the EU, and once your vehicle is registered with the DVLA you will start to pay vehicle tax.

To avoid a fine of £5 a day, you should notify HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) as soon as your vehicle arrives in the UK. There is a grace period of 14 days, but you should get it done as soon as possible to be sure.

To do this, you will first need a Government Gateway account . This allows you to use the Notification of Vehicle Arrivals  (NOVA) service, which is used to inform HMRC of the arrival of your vehicle. Note that you cannot use this service before you import your vehicle.

The information you input will be used to calculate the VAT you must pay on your vehicle and any accessories bought with it, and how to do so.


If your vehicle has an engine below 49cc, or 7.2kw if electric, you do not have to register your vehicle. Furthermore, you are exempt from reporting the arrival of your vehicle if you are only bringing your vehicle into the country on a temporary basis. However, if you later decide to permanently import the vehicle, you must inform the HMRC within 14 days, as described above.

There is also sometimes a VAT exemption if your vehicle is second-hand, is more than 6 months old, has less than 6,000 km on the clock, and you have already paid VAT in another EU country. The vehicle must still be registered with HMRC however.

Importing from outside the EU

If you are moving to the UK from outside the EU, you do not need to pay VAT or duty tax when importing your vehicle. In order to claim this tax relief, you must fill out this form  and give it to customs upon arrival to the UK. However, to qualify for this tax relief the following conditions must be met:

  • You were living outside the EU for at least 12 months continuously.
  • The vehicle you are importing has been owned by you for at least 6 months, and you will be keeping it for personal use for at least 12 months after importation.
  • The vehicle was not purchased under any tax- or duty-free scheme.

Vehicle Registration in the UK

Registering your vehicle

Any vehicle imported to the UK, regardless of whether from within or outside the EU must be registered in the UK. To do this, you will need to follow the instructions outlined in this import pack . This link also tells you which pack you will need depending on the type of vehicle you are importing. In this case, you will want to select either “Used Vehicle Import Pack” or “New Vehicle Import Pack”.

This pack will take you through the steps for registering your imported vehicle in the UK.


In order to prove your identity, you are asked to send your photocard driving license when submitting your pack. However, if this is not possible, other forms of documentation confirming your name and address will be accepted.

Confirming your name:

  • current paper driving license
  • passport
  • marriage certificate
  • divorce papers (decree nisi or absolute)
  • birth certificate

Confirming your address:

  • utility bill from within the last 3 months
  • bank statement from within the last 3 months
  • medical card
  • council tax bill for current year

You will also be required to show documentation pertaining to your vehicle:

  • payment of vehicle tax
  • registration fee of £55.00
  • valid MOT certificate if the vehicle is over 3 years old
  • a declaration of age of  vehicle if new
  • If registering the car in Northern Ireland, an insurance certificate or cover note
  • Original foreign registration certificate showing when the vehicle was manufactured (Note: you will not get this back)

The other documents necessary are those mentioned at the beginning of this article.

When you have registered your imported vehicle with the DVLA, you will be issued with a registration plate number. You may drive your vehicle to the pre-arranged registration appointment, but be aware that if you drive on public roads for any other reason before registration you could be prosecuted.

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