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HMRC internal manual

VAT New Means of Transport

Diplomats and visiting forces: UK personnel with diplomatic status returning from an EU member-state

UK personnel who had diplomatic status in another member-state are normally granted relief from VAT in that member-state and no liability for VAT is incurred when they bring the means of transport to the UK. Relief will normally be given whether the vehicle is

  • acquired into that member-state (for example from the UK), or
  • purchased new in that state.

However, the vehicle must be granted tax-free status in that member-state (or taxed there); if it is not, then on arrival into the UK tax will be due in the UK.

This applies whether the personnel are posted back to the UK or simply return the vehicle while remaining overseas themselves.

It also applies even if the vehicle is still technically a new means of transport on arrival unless it a returning new means of transport and the return was contemplated at the time of original removal - that is, if there was no real intention to remove the new means of transport and removal was simply to obtain a tax advantage.

Claims for relief of VAT for a new means of transport require the production of evidence of their tax-free status. The head of mission in the host member-state will be able to provide the returning diplomat with suitable evidence to confirm their status and that the host member-state granted relief under Article 151 of Directive 112/2006 (the Principal VAT Directive)).

The vehicle should have been registered for road use in the host member-state; if it was not, then you must refer the matter to the PTU.

Further information on this is given in Notice 728 New means of transport.