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Registering an imported vehicle


A vehicle that is permanently imported for use in the United Kingdom (UK) must be registered and taxed as soon as possible after it arrives in the country. The vehicle should not be used or kept on public roads until the registration and vehicle tax formalities have been completed.

However, if the vehicle needs to have a single vehicle approval (SVA) or MOT in order to be registered, the vehicle may be driven to and from the pre-arranged test appointment. 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 Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) or Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) local office. It is not possible to offer an 'over the counter service', registration usually takes between two to three days.

Registering the vehicle as 'new'

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

  • Is registered in the UK quickly after collection – In England and Wales this is taken to be 14 days but may be extended to one calendar month at peak periods (e.g. prior to 1 March and 1 September). In Northern Ireland this must be done within 14 days of you collecting the vehicle or it first being used abroad
  • (Northern Ireland) It must be a current model or a model that has stopped being produced in the last 2 years
  • (Northern Ireland) It must not have been sold to anyone else before you bought it
  • Only have reasonable delivery mileage on it when you collect it
  • Not have been previously permanently registered abroad

UK law requires a vehicle to be UK taxed and registered for road use. To avoid difficulties, importers are advised to transport, rather than drive their vehicles from the port to home or first destination and to keep them off the road until they have been properly licensed and 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. Left-hand-drive vehicles from within the European Community (EC) will need a certificate issued by Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) under the Mutual Recognition Scheme. This will show that the required changes to the vehicle to make it suitable for use on UK roads have been made.

If the vehicle has not been subject to European type approval (intended for sale in a country outside of the European Union), it must pass a SVA test.

Registering a previously used vehicle

As part of the registration process, the DVLA or DVA will need to be sure that an imported used vehicle that is less than 10 years old meets both European Type Approval standards and UK Construction and Use and Road Vehicle Lighting legislation.

Cars, motorcycles and light goods vehicles first registered in another European member State will need to 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 will need to pass the IVA, SVA or MSVA test, as appropriate. For further information refer to our section on registering a vehicle.

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

The V5C(NI) should be used to aid registration in GB and applications should be made at a DVLA Local Office. The V5C should be used to aid registration in NI and applications should be made at DVA, Coleraine.

Vehicle tax

Vehicle tax will be payable in line with the vehicle's first registration date in the UK. Even 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. Also, the DVLA or DVA will allocate a vehicle registration number appropriate to the vehicle's first registration abroad.

Documents needed for registration and taxing

The following documents will need to be submitted to the DVLA or DVA 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 or DVA)
  • A current UK certificate of insurance
  • Foreign registration document and any other papers you have relating to the vehicle
  • Evidence showing the date the vehicle was collected (normally the invoice from the supplier)
  • Evidence of type approval
  • The appropriate HM Revenue and Customs form required to register an imported vehicle
  • A current UK MOT certificate (if applicable)
  • A 'Declaration that a vehicle is new' V267 or 'Declaration of Newness' in Northern Ireland (if applicable). The V267 is available for download from the website or a DVLA or DVA local office.
  • Documentation confirming your name and address (the list of acceptable identity documentation is identical to that required for registration. See our page on registering a vehicle for further information)

Registration and licensing will not take place unless you have the necessary documentation. In some cases, the DVLA or DVA local office may wish to see the vehicle to check its identity. See the DVLA website or DVA website for more information.

Import information pack

The DVLA or DVA provides all the necessary information and forms required to register an imported vehicle in an 'import pack' which is available on DVLA's form ordering service or from a local DVA office.

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