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United Kingdom (UK) - Importing a Vehicle

Importing a car, caravan, van, motorhome or motorcycle is a special process that requires a lot of paperwork. Before you can even consider moving your vehicle to the United Kingdom, there are certain conditions that must be met.

The United Kingdom has two regulations: Road Vehicle 1986 and Road Vehicle Lighting 1989. These regulations will tell you whether it is legal to use your vehicle in the United Kingdom, based on safety and environmental laws.

Anyone moving to the United Kingdom permanently with a vehicle will need a European Certificate of Conformity, or CofC. This is for European residents only. The United States form will be different for vehicle importation. The certificate will be provided by the manufacturer or importer you have elected to use. This certificate will look at safety and environmental regulations, as well as whether the vehicle has right hand drive.

Expats from the European Union can use the certificate of Mutual Recognition. Under the Mutual Recognition Scheme you can import a left hand drive car or motorcycle. The vehicle must be registered in a country that is a part of the European Union. The certification will be used at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Scotland, England and Wales, or at the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Northern Ireland.

The next step, once you have the appropriate certification from your home country, is to find out what VAT, duty, or other tax might be due. Typically, there is an import tax associated with bringing your vehicle into the country and there are also road taxes to pay. If the vehicle is more than six months old, you will not need to pay the same level of vehicle tax as you would with a new vehicle.

Before you can drive your vehicle in the United Kingdom you will need to obtain motor insurance from a UK dealer. There are different levels of car insurance including liability only, comprehensive, and collision.

As soon as you have all the paperwork for the import and your insurance details, the vehicle will need to be registered. You will not be able to drive your vehicle or keep it parked on the road until it has been registered. The DVLA provides a vehicle import pack that you can request to ensure you have all of the forms required to import and register your vehicle. There are different forms for the various types of vehicle; for example cars, mopeds, and motorcycles will require different forms from lorries, buses, and minibuses.

If you have a vehicle that is more than ten years old, then you must contact the DVLA or DVA to determine if your vehicle can be imported under the safety and environmental regulations. You may find your vehicle is too old to be imported for safety reasons.

Temporary Imports

It is possible to import your vehicle temporarily and drive with your home registration plate. This is more applicable to expats from the European Union who are living in the UK for under six months. This can be for a single visit or for periods of up to six months in length. The vehicle still has to be registered and taxed in its original country. If an expat becomes a UK resident then the vehicle must be registered and taxed in the United Kingdom immediately.


There are two situations in which you might find yourself when importing a vehicle: importing from inside or outside of the EU. This is a distinction that must be considered in order to understand which taxes have to be paid.

Vehicles from the EU will require a form from HMRC stating that you are bringing a vehicle into the UK. You may have to pay VAT or vehicle tax depending on the age of the vehicle. You do not need to pay VAT or let the HMRC know you have a vehicle if it is a temporary import that will remain in the country for no longer than six months.

You do have to let the HMRC know about any vehicle with an engine that is more than 48 cubic centimetres or one that is electrically propelled and using 7.2 kw.

You will not pay tax if you move to the UK from a country outside of the EU if you move your regular home to the UK; if you lived outside the EU for 12 months; or if you have owned your vehicle for more than six months. There is a tax relief form, C104A, if you find these exceptions do not apply and you are requested to pay a tax.

Vehicle Import

The following are important agencies to contact when you import a vehicle.

Vehicle Certification Agency

+44(0) 300 330 5797


VAT Helpline +44(0) 300 200 3700


+44(0) 300 790 6802


+44(0) 289 052 8400

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