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Registering an imported vehicle

When a vehicle is imported for use in Great Britain (GB), it must be registered and taxed with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). This must be done as soon as possible as the vehicle can’t be used or kept on public roads.

New vehicles

A 'brand new' vehicle can be driven to GB and registered as 'new' provided the vehicle:

  • is registered within 14 days after collection - this may be extended to one calendar month at peak periods, eg before 1 March and 1 September
  • only has reasonable delivery mileage - DVLA considers reasonable delivery mileage to mean the vehicle being driven from the pick up point to home using a direct route
  • hasn’t been previously permanently registered
  • has been stored before registration and is a current model or is a model that has ceased production within the last two years

Advice to importers is to transport rather than drive vehicles from the port to the first destination.

New vehicles must have a certificate of conformity as proof of type approval from the supplier or vehicle manufacturer.

Left-hand-drive vehicles from within the European Community will need a certificate, issued by the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA), under the Mutual Recognition scheme. This shows that changes have been made to the vehicle, making it suitable for use on British roads.

Vehicles that haven’t been subject to European type approval will be subject to one of the following tests, they are:

  • car - Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA)
  • light goods vehicle - Single Vehicle Approval (SVA) test if it is a (up to 3,000kg)
  • motorcycle or quadricycle - motorcycle SVA

You can drive your vehicle to and from the pre-arranged appointment before the vehicle is registered.

Import information pack

You can order an ‘import pack’ from the DVLA form ordering service. This provides all the necessary information and forms needed to register an imported vehicle.

Previously used vehicle

As part of the registration process DVLA must be sure that an imported used vehicle, that’s less than ten years old meets the required standards.

They are:

  • European type approval standards
  • UK construction and use
  • road vehicle lighting legislation.

Cars, motorcycles and light goods vehicles, first registered in another European Member State, must have a certificate issued by VCA under the Mutual Recognition scheme. Larger goods vehicles will need full UK type approval before they can be registered.

Cars, motorcycles and light goods vehicles first registered in a country outside of the European Union must pass the IVA, SVA or MSVA, as appropriate.

Vehicles moving between GB and Northern Ireland (NI)

Vehicles registered in NI that move to GB are no longer classed as being imported to GB. Also, vehicles registered in GB moving to NI are no longer classed as being imported to NI.

These vehicles can keep their GB or NI plates and tax disc, or they can request the registration plate to where they are going, GB or NI.

The vehicle registration certificate Northern Ireland (V5CNI) should be used to aid registration in GB and applications should be made at a DVLA local office. The vehicle registration certificate (V5C) should be used to help registration in NI. Applications should be made at The Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA), Coleraine.

Insuring your vehicle

Before you can register and tax your vehicle you'll need to get a British insurance certificate using the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) from your vehicle.

The British Insurance Brokers' Association (BIBA) will be able to give you information on insurance brokers that provide this cover. You can contact the BIBA on 0870 950 1790 or by email: enquiries@biba.org.uk

Vehicle tax

Vehicle tax will be payable in line with the vehicle’s first registration date in the UK. If the vehicle has been previously registered abroad, the date it's first registered in the UK will determine the amount of vehicle tax that’s payable. DVLA will also allocate a vehicle registration number appropriate to the vehicle’s first registration abroad.

Registering and taxing the vehicle

You can apply for registration at your nearest DVLA local office. The application takes two to three working days. There is no ‘over the counter’ service.

You will need to take the following documents to the DVLA local office (photocopies are not acceptable):

  • completed application form V55/4 (for new vehicles) or V55/5 (for used vehicles)
  • a £55 registration fee (if applicable) and the required fee for the vehicle tax (cheques or postal orders made payable to DVLA Swansea)
  • a current British certificate of insurance
  • foreign registration document and any other papers relating to the vehicle
  • evidence showing the date the vehicle was collected (normally the invoice from the supplier)
  • evidence of type approval
  • a current British MOT test certificate (if applicable)
  • the appropriate HM Revenue and Customs form
  • a 'Declaration that a vehicle is new' form V267 (if applicable), available for download or from a DVLA local office
  • documentation confirming your name and address (a list of acceptable identity documentation can be found on the link below)

Registering and taxing the vehicle won’t take place unless you have the necessary documentation. In some cases the DVLA local office may wish to see the vehicle to check its identity.

Construction and Use requirements

Vehicles kept or used on the public highway in the UK must at all times comply with The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 (as amended).

Copies of regulations aren’t available from the Department of Transport or DVLA. They can be obtained from any library or ordered from The Stationery Office Ltd (TSO).

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