Importing a Vehicle into the UK

Importing a vehicle to the UK

When moving to the UK permanently, you can bring or other motor vehicles to the country. However, this depends on your compliance with requirements set out by the UK Government and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Whether it is importing a car, caravan, van, motorhome or motorcycle, the process requires a lot of paperwork. This blog will explain everything you need to know about importing a vehicle into the UK.

How to import a vehicle into the UK

After applying for a UK visa, importing a vehicle into the UK requires four simple steps:

  1. Tell HM Revenue and Customs within 14 days of the arrival of your vehicle
  2. Pay VAT and duty when expected to
  3. Get vehicle approval to show it meets safety and environmental standards
  4. Register and tax your vehicle with the DVLA – a registration number will be given to you so number plates can be created.

Legal responsibility

Living and working in the UK means you may have to pay VAT, duty or road tax when bringing your car with you to the UK. However, there are more legal obligations you have to understand when bringing the vehicle into the country. These include:

  • Proof that shows your car meets all current and relevant environmental and safety regulations.
  • A valid insurance policy within the UK.
  • An up-to-date MOT (a certificate that means your car is roadworthy) if the car is over three years old (four in Northern Ireland).
  • A valid driving licence.

Do I have to inform UK authorities about my vehicle?

If you plan on living in the UK and you are importing a vehicle, your vehicle falls under “permanent use” on UK roads. This means that HMRC must be informed of this. Permanent use is longer than six months. After informing HMRC, register and license your car with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

A vehicle doesn’t need registering if:

  • You are purely visiting and have no plans to live here.
  • The vehicle is only used for up to six months in a 12-month period (can be a single visit or several visits that add up to the six month period).
  • The vehicle is already registered and taxed in its home country.

Is there a time limit for informing HMRC?

If you intend to stay in the UK for longer than six months and you’re importing a vehicle, HMRC must be informed within 14 days of the vehicle arriving.

Will I have to pay tax on my car?

  • If you are bringing a new vehicle into the UK from another EU country, you are expected to pay Value Added Tax (VAT) if you are planning on staying longer than six months.
  • If you bought a second-hand vehicle from another EU country but paid VAT on that, then you are not expected to pay VAT on it.
  • When arriving in the UK from outside of the EU with a vehicle for permanent use on the road, you usually pay VAT. However, you may be exempt from this if you meet conditions that make you eligible for relief – known as Transfer of Residence Relief.
  • Disabled drivers with a car adapted for use may not be subject to VAT even when new.
  • A car being used for commercial use from outside the EU will be subject to a duty tax.
  • Road Tax is charged on the vast majority of cars in the UK so you will be expected to pay it.

How to inform the UK of your vehicle arrival?

The UK government expect you to use NOVA to inform them within 14 days of your vehicle’s arrival. NOVA is the Notification of Vehicle Arrivals and is completed online. Alternatively, a VAT NOVA1 paper form can be completed if you are unable to or choose not to complete it online.

Once the NOVA application has been received, HMRC will inform you of any VAT, duty or road tax that you will be expected to pay. If you are expected to pay tax, this must be done before you register your vehicle with the DVLA. NOVA provides the DVLA with the latest information which ensures vehicles aren’t registered before tax has been paid for.

For more information on moving to the UK from outside the UK, contact our immigration and human rights law specialists today.

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