Registering an imported vehicle in the UK

Article reviewed: 2013/01/17 | Next review due: 2014/08/05

When a vehicle is imported into Britain, it must be registered and subject to tax by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). This must be done as soon as possible because the vehicle is unusable until it has been registered.

New Vehicles

A new vehicle has the right to be registered in Great Britain as long as it is registered within 14days of import, has limited mileage, and has not already been registered. Imports must be transported to the country, not driven.

New vehicles must have a compliance certificate from the supplier or manufacturer.

Vehicles with an LHD from countries belonging to the European Union must have a VAC-isssued certificate proving that the necessary changes have been made for driving on British roads.

If this is not the case, a car must pass an IVA test, and motorcycles and light vehicles (under 3 tonnes) must pass an SVA test. You are allowed to drive the vehicle to the appointment to take the test for registration.

Used Vehicles

During the registration procedure with the DVLA, the vehicle must not be older than ten years, and be up-to-date with regards to British road compliance.

Cars, motorcycles and light goods vehicles which have already been registered in another EU county possess a valid VAC certificate.

Car tax

Car tax should be paid at the same time as vehicle registration on arrival in the UK. Even if the vehicle has already been registered abroad, the UK registration date determines the amount of tax payable. The DVLA will also give the vehicle a registration number indicating it’s foreign pre-registration.

How to register your vehicle

You can request a registration at your nearest DVLA office, with documentation usually taking 2-3 working days.

Below is a list of documents you will need for your registration with the DVLA (originals only - photocopies are not accepted):

  • V55/4 form (for new vehicles) or V55/5 (for used vehicles)
  • £55 registration fee and car tax (cheque or money order payable to DVLA Swansea)
  • UK proof of insurance
  • Foreign registration papers and all other vehicle documents
  • Proof of the date the vehicle was imported
  • Certificate of approval
  • MOT certificate
  • HM Revenue & Customs form
  • V267 (if necessary) confirming that the vehicle is new; form can be obtained from any DVLA branch or downloaded from the DVLA website
  • Proof of ID and address

It is possible to register your vehicle without all of these documents, however they may request all forms. Additionally, in some cases, the DVLA may also ask to see the vehicle for verification.

Vehicles on British roads must be in good working order at all time, as per the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations Act 1986.

Tooltip information:

  • DVLA: Driver and vehicle licensing agency
  • IVA: Individual vehicle approval
  • SVA: Single individual approval
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