1. Overview

Vehicles that you import into the UK permanently must be approved to make sure they meet safety and environmental standards.

The importer will normally take care of this.

There are different rules if you’re temporarily importing a vehicle into the UK.

Importing a vehicle yourself

You must show your vehicle meets environmental and safety regulations or has an exemption. You’ll need:

Importing a vehicle over 10 years old

Contact DVLA if you’re importing a vehicle into Great Britain that’s over 10 years old.

The 10 year date is based on the date of manufacture or first registration.

Pay VAT, duty and vehicle tax

Use the Notification of Vehicle Arrivals (NOVA) service to tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) that you’re importing a vehicle:

You usually need to do this within 14 days of arrival.

HMRC will tell you if you have to pay any VAT, duty or tax.

You usually pay VAT and duty through customs when you import a vehicle from outside the EU.

If you’re not a VAT-registered business you can only register your vehicle once you’ve paid your VAT, duty or tax.

Register your vehicle

You must register the imported vehicle with DVLA. DVLA will issue a vehicle registration number (number plate number).

There’s a different registration process for commercial importers of new vehicles.

You can drive your vehicle to a pre-arranged appointment to get it registered. You could be prosecuted if you use your vehicle on public roads for any other reason if you haven’t registered it, bought insurance and paid VAT and duty.

Driving with a foreign registration number

You must get a UK licence plate if you’re a permanent resident and you want to drive a vehicle that you’ve permanently imported.

There are exceptions for temporary imports.