Vehicles which are imported into the UK permanently must be approved to ensure that they meet both environmental and safety standards. Usually, the importer will take care of this. However, if you’re only importing a vehicle into the UK temporarily, the rules can vary.
What is Mutual Recognition?
A certificate of Mutual Recognition shows that your vehicle is suitable to be driven on roads in the UK. You can apply under the mutual recognition scheme if you are importing a car, motorcycle, light goods vehicle or motor-home that was first registered within the EU. If you’re importing lorries or heavy goods vehicles, you will need to apply for Individual Vehicle Approval. You can download an application form for your mutual recognition certificate online. The form will ask you to make a declaration that your vehicle is suitable to be driven in the UK, as well as confirm that you have made any necessary alterations.
Vehicles within the EU: VAT and Tax
You will usually need to pay VAT if you import a vehicle from within the EU. You must also use the Notification of Vehicle Arrivals service to tell HMRC that you have brought a vehicle into the UK. HMRC will use this information to work out the amount of VAT that you need to pay. You will receive a late notification penalty of £5 a day if you don’t notify HMRC within 14 days of the vehicle arriving in the UK. You will usually pay VAT on the vehicle itself, accessories purchased with it and any delivery or incidental charges.
Vehicles from outside the EU: VAT, Duty and Tax
You will generally pay VAT and duty through customs when you import a vehicle from outside the UK. The only exceptions to this is if you are moving to the UK, importing a previously exported vehicle or importing a vehicle which is registered to a non-EU resident. If you are moving to the UK, you must meet the following conditions:
- You’re moving your normal home to the UK.
- Your normal home was outside the EU for a continuous period of at least 12 months.
- You have owned and used the vehicle for at least 6 months outside the EU.
- You didn’t receive the vehicle under a duty free or tax free scheme.
- You’re going to keep the vehicle for your personal use for at least 12 months.
How to register an imported vehicle
You can get a vehicle import pack from the DVLA to register an imported vehicle. You will need to send the original foreign registration manufacturing certificate and you will not get this back. If you don’t have this, you may be able to prove the date it was manufactured another way, for example with a letter from the manufacturer. You’ll also need to provide a mutual recognition certificate, form V267 if the vehicle is new and evidence showing the date that the vehicle was collected. You should also send the original documents, not photocopies and be aware that the DVLA may ask to see the vehicle to check its identity.
Registering a vehicle as new
You can bring a vehicle into the UK and register it as new if:
- It’s registered within 2 weeks of collection
- It hasn’t previously been permanently registered
- It’s stored before registration and is a current model
- It only has reasonable delivery mileage.
- It hasn’t been sold by a retailer previously.
You won’t be able to drive the vehicle on UK roads until it has been registered and taxed.
You can normally use a vehicle with non-UK number plates without having to tax or register it if the following rules apply:
- You are visiting and don’t plan to live in the UK.
- You only use the vehicle for up to 6 months within a 12 month period.
- The vehicle is registered and taxed within its own country.
You might be able to claim relief from customs charges if your vehicle is registered outside the EU and you’re only bringing it in temporarily. Fill in form c110 and take your vehicle through the nothing to declare channel when you arrive in the UK.
You may be able to use your vehicle for more than 6 months if:
- You’re a student or worker
- You normally live outside the EU
- You’re in the UK for a set work or study period
- The vehicle is registered back in its home country
Moving vehicles between Great Britain and Northern Ireland
You can move your vehicle freely between Northern Ireland and Great Britain if it is registered in either country. You will need to notify the DVLA of a change in address.
If you are a commercial importer of a new vehicle
Commercial importers can use a simpler process to license and register new vehicles with the DVLA. You need to use form V55/2, not form V55/4 and you do not need to provide supporting evidence or complete the HMRC forms. You can use the scheme if you are currently registered for VAT and you can securely store certificates of conformity so that they can be audited on request. If you are accepted onto the scheme, you’ll be responsible for proper use and safe storage of forms V55/2 as well as sending the completed forms to the DVLA on behalf of your customers. You need to email the vehicle policy group at the DVLA in order to receive an application pack. You will not need to provide supporting evidence.