3. VAT and tax: vehicles from within the EU

You usually need to pay VAT if you import a vehicle from within the EU.

You must also pay vehicle tax from the date your vehicle is registered with DVLA.

Report the arrival of your vehicle to HMRC

Use the Notification of Vehicle Arrivals (NOVA) service to tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) you’ve brought a vehicle into the UK.

You’ll need a Government Gateway account to use NOVA.

HMRC will use the information you provide in NOVA to work out the VAT you must pay.

You can’t use NOVA before you import your vehicle.

You’ll get a late notification penalty of £5 per day if you don’t notify HMRC within 14 days of the vehicle arriving in the UK.

You can report on a spreadsheet if you need to use NOVA for lots of vehicles.


You don’t need to report the arrival of the vehicle using NOVA if any of the following apply:

  • the vehicle is in the UK for less than 6 months in a 12-month period and you normally live in the EU (one single visit, or several shorter visits adding up to a 6-month period)
  • the vehicle’s engine is below 49cc, or 7.2 kilowatts (about 9.65 horsepower) if it’s electric
  • you’re using a secure registration scheme

If you change your mind and decide either to import the vehicle permanently or to not use a secure registration scheme, you must use NOVA within 14 days.

You can’t register your vehicle with DVLA until HMRC has processed your NOVA application.


HMRC will tell you how much VAT is due and how to pay.

You’ll usually pay VAT on the vehicle, accessories bought with it and any delivery or incidental charges.

Second-hand vehicles

You don’t usually have to pay VAT if you’re importing a second-hand vehicle and the VAT was paid in another EU country.

You’ll have to pay VAT if your vehicle is classed as a ‘new means of transport’ - ie it’s less than 6 months old and has done less than 6,000km (about 3,728 miles). HMRC will tell you if this is the case.

Ways to pay

If you’re a VAT-registered business, you need to account for and pay the VAT due on your next VAT Return.

If not, pay the VAT to HMRC separately.

You’ll get a letter or email from HMRC telling you how to do this.

Reclaim VAT paid in the EU

You can reclaim the VAT you paid in another EU country. Send the Certificate of VAT you receive from HMRC to the person you bought the vehicle from.