Importing vehicles into the UK

Importing a vehicle in the UK

If an individual moves to the UK, from a foreign location, he / she can get their own vehicle (motorbike or motor-vehicle) in the country. But to do so, they must complete the basic requirements in order to bring a vehicle into the UK. Few of the basic requirements are listed below:

Importing a Vehicle in the UK

1. Inform HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)

Once an individual has got his / her vehicle in the UK, starting from that day the concerned person has 14 days to inform HMRC that a vehicle has been brought into the UK permanently. Registering this vehicle is not possible until the HMRC has been notified. It is imperative to note that an individual can be fined at a rate of £5 per day for not informing the HMRC. However, if an individual has a vehicle whose engine capacity is less than 49cc (or 7.2kw in case of an electric vehicle); he / she can register the vehicle in the UK without informing the HMRC about it.

Additionally, if an individual plans to bring in a vehicle from the European Union (EU), he / she can notify the HMRC through Notification of Vehicle Arrivals (NOVA) service. An individual can use the service if he / she has brought-in a vehicle from the EU and has not registered for value added tax (VAT). Furthermore, it is applicable for businesses that are registered for value added tax (VAT) but do not utilise the secure registration scheme. Under a secure registration scheme, the registration process is completed by transferring the information mentioned on the below listed certificates onto the V55/1 or V55/2 form:

  • European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval Certificate
  • Goods Vehicle National Type Approval Certificate
  • National Small Series Type Approval Certificate

An individual can register their vehicles by sending the below mentioned documents to Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) Swansea, SA99 1BE:

Before an individual starts to explore this service, he / she must have an online HMRC account which is usually referred to as a Government Gateway account. Additionally, if a company is expanding their business in the UK, and have brought their fleet to support the business activities a spreadsheet with all the required details can be shared through NOVA. After the HMRC has been informed, an individual will be informed if he / she has to pay VAT and other applicable charges / duty.

2. Making payment for VAT and duty

As stated earlier, HMRC will inform the concerned person on whether he / she has to pay duty or VAT or duty. Value added tax (VAT) or duty is charged on the vehicle cost including the cost of the following:

  • any accessories that where bought with the vehicle
  • any other delivery and supplementary charges paid

After the computation is complete, HMRC will inform the individual on the amount that needs to be paid. While computing the payable amount, the rates charged will depend on the vehicle type and the home location of the vehicle. In case an individual has any queries with regards to the applied rate, they can anytime call the helpline to verify the rates

Importing a vehicle from the European Union (EU)

The following points will determine the amount of VAT and duty payable

Why was the vehicle imported What and how to pay
For personal or self use Only VAT is payable to HMRC directly
For use in a VAT-registered company Only VAT is payable and the amount can be paid while filing the next VAT Return
For use in a business non-VAT-registered company Only VAT is payable to HMRC directly

Furthermore, if an individual plans to import a second-hand vehicle in the UK, he / she won’t be liable to pay VAT in case all the following apply:

  • VAT has previously been paid in whichever European Union country, which also includes the UK
  • The vehicle is regularly being used for a period in excess of 6 months
  • The vehicle has travelled more than 6,000km (which approximately amounts to 3,728 miles)

In order to make payment to HMRC, users can consider telephone banking or online payment to pay by Faster Payments, Clearing House Automated Payment System (CHAPS) or BACS Payment Schemes Limited, previously known as Bankers' Automated Clearing Services


Faster Payments are a mode of electronic payments that can be carried out via phone, online, through self-service kiosks or through a bank branch within a couple of hours

CHAPS is another mode of same-day payment (the payment instructions vary for different banks) and there is no cap on the amount to be transferred, though there may be some charges depending on the bank

BACS is an electronic payment system which enables people to make payments from one bank account to a different one

Importing a vehicle from a place outside the EU

In case a vehicle is imported from any place other than the EU, the following table will define the application of VAT and duty

Why an individual imported the vehicle What and how to pay
If an individual is moving to the UK with their vehicle VAT or duty is not applicable if an individual qualifies for a relief
If an individual is giving back an exported vehicle to the UK VAT or duty is not applicable if an individual qualifies for a relief
If an individual is visiting the European Union with their vehicle VAT or duty is not charged if the person meets the requirement of a temporary import
If the business is not VAT-registered Customs is payable at the UK border
If the business is VAT-registered Customs can be paid at the UK border and can be claimed on the subsequent VAT Return

3. Getting the vehicle approved

It becomes imperative to get a vehicle approval done to make sure the vehicle meets environmental and safety regulations. A vehicle approval is not needed if the first registered or manufactured date is more than 10 years. In order to get a vehicle approval for a vehicle not registered in the European Union, an individual will be required to apply for either a Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval (MSVA) or an Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA). However, if the vehicle is registered in the European Union, an individual is required to produce a European Certificate of Conformity to validate the approval for an EU-registered vehicle. Additionally, if the vehicle is a left hand drive, he / she is also required to produce a certificate of Mutual Recognition

4. Register an imported vehicle

Apart from the usual documentation process, additional documents need to be produced for imported vehicles. Original copies of each need to be sent:

Register an Imported Vehicle
  • evidence of vehicle approval
  • evidence of the vehicle purchase date – invoice from the supplier
  • form V267 for registering a new vehicle
  • the actual foreign registration certificate stating the date of manufacturing the vehicle

In case an individual doesn’t have an actual foreign registration certificate, in some cases, DVLA might accept proof of manufacturing date

Importing a vehicle in the UK requires a lot of approvals and process – much paperwork is required. Before an individual can consider getting a vehicle in the UK, there are some conditions that need to be met. An individual (from an EU country) moving to the UK with a vehicle will be required to produce a European Certificate of Conformity or certificate of Mutual Recognition. As per the guidelines of a Mutual Recognition Scheme, an individual can import a left hand drive vehicle in the UK The certification will be used (DVLA) in England, Scotland and Wales; it is also applicable at the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Northern Ireland

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About the author
Blog Author

Sumit Agarwal
Sumit Agarwal (ACMA ACA India), the Managing partner of dns accountants is a highly respected accountant with expertise in helping owner-managed businesses.

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About the author
Blog Author

Sumit Agarwal
Sumit Agarwal (ACMA ACA India), the Managing partner of dns accountants is a highly respected accountant with expertise in helping owner-managed businesses.


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