Advice and tips for foreign car importing provided by CompuCars

A vehicle which is permanently imported for use in Great Britain must be registered and licensed as soon as possible after it arrives in this country. After arrival you are only entitled to drive the vehicle on foreign registration plates from the port of entry to your home address, place of destination or to a pre-arranged test. Thereafter the vehicle must be kept off the road until the registration formalities have taken place. Application for registration should be made to your nearest DVLA Local Office however they may no longer offer an "over the counter service"

A "brand new" vehicle can be driven to GB and registered as "new" provided the vehicle is registered in GB quickly after collection - this is taken to be 14 days but may be extended to one calendar month at peak periods (e.g. prior to 1st March and 1st September) and only have reasonable delivery mileage and has not been previously "permanently" registered.

For most new vehicles you must present evidence of Type Approval from the supplier or vehicle manufacturer, usually in the form of a Certificate of Conformity. If the vehicle has not been subject to Type Approval it must pass a Single Approval (SVA) Test.

Vehicle Registration

The following documents will need to be submitted to the DVLA Local Office.

In some cases the DVLA may wish to see the vehicle to check its identity.

Type Approval

Non-type approved vehicles less than 10 years old that are personally imported are required to pass a Single Vehicle Approval (SVA) test. To qualify as a Personal Import [PI], the following conditions have to be met: If the vehicle has been imported by a person entering the United Kingdom and the person had, at the time the vehicle was imported, been normally resident in a country other than the United Kingdom for a continuous period of at least 12 months, that person intends to become normally resident in the United Kingdom, that the vehicle has been in the possession of that person and used by him in the country where he has normally resident for a period of at least 6 months before its importation and that the vehicle is intended for his personal or household use in the United Kingdom.

Personally imported vehicles over 3 years old, that meet the above criteria, will be subject to the MOT test.

Customs & Excise Registration Documents

Vehicles Imported from the EU

Vehicles Imported from outside the EU

Notifying HMRC and paying VAT on vehicles brought into the UK

From 15 April 2013, new or used vehicles brought into the UK permanently from abroad must be notified to HMRC within 14 days of the vehicle arriving in the UK and any VAT due paid or ‘secured’.

This is a legal obligation and until it is done it will not be possible to register or licence a vehicle with the DVLA/DVA.

A new online system called Notification of Vehicle Arrivals (NOVA) will support this change.

Find out more at

For further advice and information on import duty and tax contact HM Customs & Excise at Dover 01304 224557.