Importing a car from overseas

If you’ve purchased a car overseas and plan on bringing it to the UK, read on for an easy guide to the car import process and its potential costs.

If you’ve purchased a car overseas and plan on bringing it to the UK, read on for an easy guide to the car import process and its potential costs.

Daniel Hutson
Head of Motor Insurance
minute read
Do you know someone who could benefit from this article?
Posted 16 JANUARY 2020

How do I import a car?

If you’re importing a car to this country, the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has strict rules on the car import process. But there are simple steps to follow to get your imported car on the road.

The first step is to tell HMRC that you’re importing a car, within two weeks of the car arriving in the UK. You can do this through the Notification of Vehicle Arrivals (NOVA) service.

Once your car is in the UK, it will need to be approved to show that it meets the required safety and environmental standards for UK driving.

You’ll also need to register the vehicle with the DVLA, and pay tax on it. The DVLA will provide you with a registration number so you can get UK number plates for your imported car.

If you drive without UK insurance, you could face prosecution. So make sure you have insurance before you get behind the wheel. You’re exempt from this rule if you’re driving to a pre-arranged MOT or approval test.

How much does it cost to import a car?

Import costs will vary, depending on the reasons for the car’s import and where you’re importing it from. The type of car and its intended use will also be a factor.

Once you’ve told HMRC that you’ve imported your car, you might have to pay VAT and duty. They’ll tell you if that’s necessary. Any charges will be based on the total cost of the vehicle, as well as any accessories you’ve bought and delivery or other charges.

If the car was imported from the EU and it’s brand new, you’ll only pay VAT. You won’t have to pay VAT if the car is second-hand and the VAT has already been paid in an EU country. Or if the car’s been used for more than six months or has done over 6,000 kilometres.

If you bought the car outside the EU, the charges will be different. If you’re moving to the UK with the car or you’re returning an exported vehicle to the UK, you won’t have to pay VAT or duty if you qualify for relief. If you’re just visiting, you’ll also be exempt from paying VAT and duty. Any other import reasons will incur charges.

How much will it cost to insure an imported car?

Cars imported to the UK are divided into two classes: ‘grey’ and ‘parallel’ imports. You can read about import car insurance in our useful guide.

Grey imports are vehicles that have been made outside the EU. These might not conform to European regulations and will have to pass the safety and environmental standard tests for UK roads, before being classified as legal. As these cars have been manufactured abroad and parts could be harder to source, they’ll probably cost you more to insure.

Parallel imports will have been built within the EU. As these will already conform to EU standards, they’re likely to be cheaper to insure.

Use our online comparison service to see how much insuring your imported vehicle could cost.

Looking for a quote?

Compare quotes with us today and see if you can start saving.

Get a quote
Compare car insurance Get a quote