Can I bring my car to the UK?

Updated on 16 April 2018

When you come to the UK to live or work, you are allowed to bring your car (or other motor vehicle) with you. The rest of this section tells you what you must do to meet HMRC’s tax requirements on bringing a car with you.

Can I bring my car to the UK?

When you come to the UK to live or work, you are allowed to bring your car (or other motor vehicle) with you, however you may have to pay VAT, duty or road tax (see below).

You should make sure you understand your other legal obligations when you import a car and as a driver, not just your tax requirements. These include showing your car and environmental and safety regulations, having a valid insurance policy covering the car in the UK, having an MOT if the car is more than three years old (certificate that the car is roadworthy) and having a valid driving licence.

You can find more information about driving in the UK on our website and on the GOV.UK website. You can find more information on importing a car into the UK on GOV.UK.

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Do I have to tell the UK authorities about my car?

If you bring your car with you to the UK, for ‘permanent use’ on UK roads, you must tell HMRC about your car. Permanent use is normally considered to be for longer than six months. Once you have notified HMRC, you must register and license your car with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

You can usually use a vehicle without needing to register it in the UK or pay any taxes if all of the following apply:

  • you are visiting and do not plan to live here;
  • you only use the vehicle for up to six month in a 12-month period (one single visit, or several shorter visits adding up to a six month period);
  • the vehicle is registered and taxed in its home country.

You can find out more information about who you have to tell when you bring (import) a car into the UK for permanent use, on the GOV.UK website.

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Is there a time limit for telling HMRC?

If you import or bring a car or vehicle into the UK after 14 April 2013, and you intend to stay for longer than six months, you must tell HMRC within 14 days of bringing the car or vehicle into the UK.

For more information on how to notify HMRC about your car go to the section, 'what is NOVA?' below.

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Do I have to pay tax on my car?

When you bring a new motor vehicle into the UK from another EU country, you must pay Value Added Tax (VAT), if you intend to stay for more than six months. For more details of what is regarded as new see Notice 728, which you can find on the GOV.UK website.

When you bring a second-hand vehicle into the UK from another EU country (and intend to stay for longer than six months), you do not have to pay VAT, provided that you paid VAT in another EU country when you bought the car.

When you bring a new or a used car into the UK from outside the EU for permanent use (normally for more than six months) on UK roads, you must normally pay (or account for) VAT to HMRC. You may not have to pay VAT if you meet conditions that mean you are eligible for relief, for example, Transfer of Residence Relief.

If you have to pay VAT, you must do this before you register and license the vehicle with the DVLA in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

You can find out more information about whether or not you have to pay VAT when you import a car into the UK on the GOV.UK website.

If you are disabled and bring a car into the UK that has been specially adapted for your use, it may not be subject to VAT even if it is new. You can find more information on the GOV.UK website.

If you are importing a car from outside the EU, you may have to pay duty in certain circumstances – for example if it is for commercial purposes. You can call the HMRC Imports and exports helpline to check rates.

You may also have to pay road tax. There is more information on road tax in our section on ‘driving in the UK’.

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What is NOVA?

NOVA is a notification system, Notification of Vehicle Arrivals.

If you bring a vehicle into the UK from abroad for permanent use on UK roads you have to notify HMRC within 14 days of the vehicle’s arrival.

HMRC expects you to make your NOVA notification online, but you will need to set up a Government Gateway account first if you do not already have one. You can do this on GOV.UK.

You can make a NOVA notification on paper by completing form VAT NOVA1 – you can do this if you are unable to or choose not to make the notification online. You can request the paper form from the VAT Helpline. The contact details are on the GOV.UK website.

On receipt of the NOVA notification, HMRC will tell you fi you have to pay any VAT, duty or road tax and how much.

You must pay or account for any VAT due, before you can register and license the vehicle with the DVLA in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

NOVA will provide the DVLA with up to date information about notifications and will make sure they do not register any vehicle until any VAT due has been paid or accounted for.

You can find more information about NOVA on the GOV.UK website.

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Where can I find more information?

You can find more information on the GOV.UK website about driving in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland:

See also ‘Driving in the UK’ on our website – this section provides an overview of the things you need to do in order to drive a car legally in the UK.

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