Imported a car to the UK – What checks should you do before you start driving

If you are importing the vehicle as a phase of a Transfer of Residence it is not going to be trouble if the vehicle you’re importing comes from Europe. That’s due to the fact all vehicles bought in Europe (including Britain) fall below the European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval. This unit has minimal requirements for matters such as crash protection, emissions, lighting, brakes, and steering throughout European countries.

Even so, you may additionally desire to have a look at the specification of important points of your vehicle. Certain luxuries (like leather-based trim or Bluetooth) that come as general for a unique automobile bought in the UK can also now not be on the trendy package listing when offered in any other nation.

When importing an automobile from some other European nation, you will want an affirmation that it meets security and environmental standards, however additionally a European Certificate of Conformity. This is something you ought to be capable of getting from the manufacturer of your car.

The European Certificate of Conformity must verify whether or not the car you’re importing is right-hand or left-hand drive. If it is a left-hand drive vehicle you are importing, you will additionally want a certificate of Mutual Recognition to verify the vehicle is good enough to use on UK roads. You must contact the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) if you are not sure whether or not the automobile you prefer to import qualifies for such a certificate.

When you design to import a car, you will additionally want to notify HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) of the use of the Notification of Vehicle Arrivals (NOVA) service. You can use this online by way of first creating a Government Gateway account if you don’t have one already. With the information furnished via NOVA, HMRC will inform you if you have to pay any VAT or tax duty on the automobile you are importing.

You will additionally want to register your imported car with the DVLA, and they will provide a car registration plate. Cars imported completely to Britain that use an overseas registration plate want to swap to a UK number plate earlier than they can be driven. Chances are you will additionally want to get any VAT or duty paid for earlier than you can register your imported vehicle.

If you’re looking for a new or used imported vehicle, one thing to keep in mind is that imported vehicles are divided into two categories: Parallel Imports and Grey Imports. These classes are described based on how you can make your buy a profitable one. There are several motives why one would desire to buy an import, no remember if it is a parallel or grey import; these motors have distinct features that each vehicle lovers and day-to-day motorists alike occur to enjoy. They can have a special look that can be very suitable to some but these uncommon styles and unfamiliar technical factors may additionally be a key motive why others refuse to buy imports and pick out to solely purchase vehicles that are manufactured in the United Kingdom.

What are the requirements to drive an imported car in the UK?

If you are now not a resident of the United Kingdom you can drive an imported car without registering it in the UK for up to 6 months. If you are a resident of the UK, you are no longer allowed to drive any vehicles that are now not registered in the UK with solely a few exceptions.

What are the necessities your imported car needs to meet?

There are some necessities that you and your vehicle need to meet for you to use in the United Kingdom. In most cases, these necessities will now not be challenging to meet and are reasonable.

  • The automobile has to be registered to the driver, or the driver should have proof that they are allowed to use the car. This is to stop the theft of overseas vehicles.
  • The registration number has to be displayed on the front and back of the car.
  • Registration numbers want to be displayed in Latin characters and Arabic numbers so the police officers can examine them.
  • There ought to be some sign of what country the car is registered in on the rear of the car. This can be brought to the vehicle in particular for the trip or be a phase of the registration number. In whichever country it is registered, it must be legal and safe for road use.

Essentially if you are legally riding your vehicle in your own country then you can legally drive it in the UK for a short visit besides any issue.

Why is Inspection of imported vehicles important?

A pre-purchase car inspection is an exquisite way to make certain you have peace of mind earlier than you purchase your subsequent car. So if you’re shopping for an imported car and hope to have an inspection carried out will be good advice. This would possibly appear needless – however, there can be several variations between vehicles sold in other countries, so it’s indispensable. Some companies take up these responsibilities.

Parallel and Grey Import

There are different sorts of imported cars and figuring out whether or not or no longer an import is right for you will require a little research. You are possibly to have little or no hassle with a parallel import, a vehicle that’s been bought in the European Union then added to the UK. These cars are subject to equal standards and checking out as our own and will be mechanically identical, even if the trim stage is barely different.

On the other hand, ‘grey imports’ are barely different. Grey imports are motors that typically come from Japan and frequently characterize huge financial savings over UK cars. These vehicles are subject to various standards and now and then have unique aspects in contrast to cars meant for Europe. For instance, their heating or cooling system may be designed for various climates and you can also discover the vehicle’s odometer registers kilometres instead of miles. It can additionally be challenging getting correct important points bearing on to the car’s records too.

Vehicle approval

All automobiles want to be authorized to make certain they meet safety and environmental standards. Usually, it will be taken care of by the importer or the maker. If your car no longer has approval, you will need to apply for it. You need an automobile approval to check if you are registering a rebuilt vehicle, a radically altered vehicle, a kit converted automobile, or have imported a vehicle.

Do you need an imported car history check?

The best way to find out the records of an imported car is to run a vehicle import check. It is sensible usually to do this check before any car purchase. The file solely tells if the vehicle is imported or not. You would no longer be in a position to recognize its origin of country, accident, and service history.

Important things to check for an imported car

There are quite a few matters to check in imported vehicles earlier than using them. Some of them are vital components, whilst the remaining are essentials that make sure your vehicle’s easy operation in general. Second-hand cars imported from foreign places have turned out to be a famous choice to brand new vehicles amongst mid-income earners in growing countries. Some imported vehicles can come in good shape if you are fortunate to purchase one like that. But some may also seem accurate however will have serious issues. In the worst case, you purchase one in relatively awful circumstances due to its previous owner’s insufficient maintenance or accidents.

Here are a few things that should be checked for an imported car:


The car engine is like the car’s heart, barring which the car cannot be operative. A technician must do a desirable inspection before using. It is essential to control the following – signs of a gasket leak, the scent of burnt oil, and Antifreeze (thermostat).

Dark brown stains on the engine blocks are regular signs and symptoms of a gasket leak. If that is the case, think about inspecting and fixing by a mechanic earlier than the engine’s circumstance worsens. Check the radiator closely. A damaged or leaking radiator ought to additionally signify an extra serious underlying trouble with the engine.


Your brake and different lights are vital for safety for the day and night drive. Other lights such as headlights, taillights, and indoor lights are equally essential for night-time driving. Before driving into the sundown with your newly bought car, you ought to investigate all the lights to make certain they work fine. If you discover any misguided lights or burned-out bulbs, you have to fix them before driving your car.


It is additionally vital to take a look at the level of engine oil and different necessary fluids like engine coolant, transmission, power steering, brake, and washer fluids earlier than the use of an imported car. Usually, the owner’s guide incorporates guidelines on how to test your engine oil level. Usually, the oil level must be near the “full mark” of the dipstick. The shade of the oil and transmission fluid additionally matters. The oil colouration must be mild brown, whilst that of the transmission fluid ought to be red or pink. These elements need to be taken care of earlier than you proceed to use your imported car.

Further, take a look at signs and symptoms of oil leakage in the area near the engine searching beneath the hood and from below the car. If you observe any sign of oil or fluid leaks, you want to seek advice from a professional for extra profound management earlier than driving the vehicle.


After you have bought a foreign-used car or used imported car it is indispensable to discover the genuine mileage of your automobile earlier than you proceed to use it. The purpose for that is that the particular component of the car and necessities are to change after certain mileage gaps.

For instance, relying on your car’s real mileage at the time of purchase, you may also want to exchange your timing belt, earlier than the use of the vehicle. Ideally, altering the timing belt after every 60 000 – 100 000 miles.

Other necessities advocated for exchange after particular mileage intervals consist of fluids, air filters, brake pads, etc.

Wheel and Tire Conditions

The wheels and tires’ stipulations are vital matters to test in imported motors earlier than the usage of them. Ideally, all 4 wheels of the car have to be perpendicular to the floor and parallel to every other. However, if you take a look at the automobile pulling to one side whilst taking a look at driving, that suggests that the wheels may have gone out of alignment. You ought to test for the date of manufacturing for the tires to be certain the tires are now not expired. While at it, you are to confirm that the accompanying tires match the dimensions endorsed for use by the manufacturer. In the future, you ought to appear out for uneven wear patterns, cuts, or embedded nails, glasses, or stones inside the treads and sidewalls.


Take a look at the indoor cabin’s condition. Besides confirming that all fundamental add-ons are working, you ought to additionally make certain that seats are tightly constant to the ground and regulate correctly for secure driving.

The subsequent essential aspect to take a look at in an imported car earlier than the use of it is the quintessential documentation. Evidence of automobile registration, a charge of duty or taxes, and change of possession (for pre-owned vehicles) are all legal requirements for riding automobiles in most countries. You must additionally make certain that your license is up to date earlier than taking the car out on the road.

Last But Not the Least

The first best component to do when you get hold of your imported vehicle would be to look at several aspects and necessities as mentioned above physically. Next would be to take your buy for an intensive test drive. While at it, you have to pay interest to any signs and symptoms of faults or element failure. Finally, it is indispensable to test your vehicle’s important points such as your car identification variety (VIN), colour, and model in your Customs clearance report to be certain to match. In-country like Nigeria, you ought to get into a lot of issues with the Customs Authority on patrol if one of the numbers or letters of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) contained in your customs clearance file no longer matches the original VIN on your car.


2021 Guide to ULEZ and Clean air zones emission standards
2021 Guide to ULEZ and Clean air zones emission standards
Everything you need to know about ULEZ and Clean air zone. Is your vehicle compliant? Do you have an older vehicle that may need to be replaced?
What does clocked mileage mean? Guide to rolled back cars
What does clocked mileage mean? Guide to rolled back cars
When it comes to buying a second-hand car almost everything impacts it’s value.
2021 Ultimate Guide to Car Insurance
2021 Ultimate Guide to Car Insurance
Most of us look to obtain the cheapest car insurance possible for the cover we're after, and the easiest way to do this is to visit a car insurance comparison site. Read our guide on how to get cheap car insurance