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How to Register a Left Hand Drive Car in the UK

Whether you are moving to the UK from abroad, or just looking to purchase a car from the EU and use it in the UK, one thing that you’ll need to do is make sure that you register it for use in the UK. While this doesn’t apply to anyone that is simply visiting the country on holiday, it does apply to those who are living or working in the UK. In this article, we’ll take you through some of the things that you’ll need to know to register a LHD car in the UK.

Temporary or permanent import

One of the first things that you’ll need to decide is whether you want to import the car on a temporary or permanent basis. A temporary permit generally only applies if you don’t usually live in the UK and are bringing a vehicle into the UK for less than 6 months. A permanent import is the right choice for those looking to use their left hand drive car in the UK.

Vehicle health check

For those looking to buy a car outside the UK and import it, one of the most difficult elements can be assessing the condition of the vehicle. Unless you are a mechanic and have seen the vehicle yourself, it can be difficult to be sure of the condition of the car. As well as checking the health of the car you’ll also want to carry out a HPI check and make sure the vehicle has not been involved in an accident before.

These checks can open up a minefield and be difficult to identify the true history of a vehicle and its condition. With the advent of the internet, this has become even harder as anyone is able to list a car for sale with relative ease.

Import duty

Another thing that UK buyers need to be aware of is import duty. You could see a car for sale that seems like an absolute steal, but if you aren’t aware of the need to pay import duty then you could be in for an expensive surprise. The process varies depending on what country you are looking to export a car from and whether the vehicle is new or used. It also depends on whether you have paid tax in the original country or purchased the vehicle tax-free.

You’ll need to tell HM Revenue and Customs within 14 days of the vehicle arriving in the UK and will be expected to make any VAT and duty payment shortly after this.

Vehicle approval

For vehicles which are available in the UK in right hand drive format, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get approval for use in the UK following some relatively minor changes. Vehicles that don’t have a UK equivalent can be a lot more difficult as they will often need to pass more rigorous checks to make sure that they fall in line with UK environmental and safety standards.

As well as environmental checks there are some basic safety changes that will need to be made to a left hand drive car in order to make it roadworthy in the UK. These include but are not limited to: changing the headlight direction, moving the fog light from the left to the right, and making sure the speedometer has MPH markings. Once all the necessary changes have been made the vehicle will then need to be put through the standard MOT test to check for roadworthiness.


Once you have done all of the above you can now start the actual registration process, which generally involves a lot of documentation and form filling. Depending on whether the vehicle you are registering is new or used there are a variety of documents that you’ll need. It normally takes around 6 weeks to get your registration certificate from the DVLA but it can take longer, especially if you have not provided the right information.

UK plates

Only once you have received the registration certificate (V5C) from the DVLA will you be able to get number plates for your car. This can be a long, drawn-out process that is full of potential hurdles and problem areas. At Transeuropean we specialise in importing left hand drive cars and have been providing a 5-star service to customers since we opened in 1970.

If you’re looking to simplify the process and get the best-left hand drive vehicles in the market then check out our range of left hand drive cars  today. Alternatively give us a call on +44(0) 207 435 7009 to see how we can help you find the perfect LHD car for the UK, your holiday home in Spain or anywhere else in the world.