Car Buying

A Guide How to Import a Used Car into the UK

Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to import a used car into the UK. Importing a used car into the UK can be an exciting yet complex process. Whether you’re bringing in a classic car from Europe or a unique model from overseas, it’s essential to understand the steps and regulations involved to ensure a smooth transition. Importing a used car into the UK can be an exciting yet complex process.

1. Research and Selection

Choosing the Right Car: Begin by selecting the car you wish to import. Consider factors like the car’s age, condition, and specifications. Ensure the model meets UK road safety and emission standards.

Finding a Reliable Seller: Look for reputable sellers or dealerships. It’s advisable to conduct thorough background checks and read reviews to avoid scams.

2. Understand UK Import Regulations

Vehicle Type Approval: Ensure the car has a valid European Certificate of Conformity (CoC) or obtain an Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) if importing from outside the EU. This certifies that the vehicle meets UK safety and environmental standards.

Right-hand Drive: Most cars in the UK are right-hand drive. Importing a left-hand drive car is possible but consider the practicality and any necessary modifications.

3. Calculate the Costs

Import Duties and VAT: Be prepared to pay import duty and VAT. As of the latest regulations, cars imported from outside the EU are subject to a 10% duty and 20% VAT on the total cost, including shipping.

Additional Fees: Factor in costs for shipping, insurance, registration, and any necessary modifications to meet UK standards.

4. Shipping the Car

Choose a Shipping Method: Decide between container shipping, roll-on/roll-off (RoRo), or air freight. Container shipping is secure but more expensive, while RoRo is cost-effective but less secure.

Hire a Customs Broker: A customs broker can help navigate the import process, handle paperwork, and ensure compliance with UK customs regulations.

5. Prepare Documentation

Required Documents: Gather all necessary documents, including:

  • Original purchase invoice
  • Vehicle registration certificate
  • European Certificate of Conformity or IVA
  • Bill of lading (shipping document)
  • Insurance documents
  • Passport or identity proof

Notify HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC): Within 14 days of the car’s arrival, you must notify HMRC and complete a NOVA (Notification of Vehicle Arrivals) application to avoid penalties.

6. Vehicle Modifications and Testing

Compliance Modifications: Ensure the car meets UK road standards. This may involve changes to lighting, speedometer, emissions, and more.

MOT Test: Schedule an MOT test (Ministry of Transport test) to certify the car’s roadworthiness. This is mandatory for cars over three years old.

7. Register the Vehicle

DVLA Registration: Register the car with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). Submit the following:

  • Completed V55/4 form (for new vehicles) or V55/5 form (for used vehicles)
  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of ownership
  • NOVA reference number
  • MOT certificate
  • Vehicle tax payment

License Plates: Once registered, the DVLA will issue a UK registration number. You can then order and install UK license plates.

8. Insurance and Road Tax

Car Insurance: Arrange for car insurance before driving the vehicle in the UK. Ensure the policy covers imported vehicles.

Road Tax: Pay the vehicle excise duty (road tax) based on the car’s CO2 emissions and engine size.

9. Enjoy Your New Car

With all paperwork completed and compliance checks passed, you can now legally drive your imported used car on UK roads. Enjoy the unique experience of owning a car that stands out from the usual models seen on the streets. Documents you need to keep.


Importing a used car into the UK involves meticulous planning, understanding of regulations, and a thorough process of documentation and compliance. By following these steps, you can ensure a smooth and successful import, allowing you to enjoy your new vehicle without any legal or logistical issues.