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Shipping Your Car to the UK – A Guide

Bringing your car back from the USA to UK – worth it?

There are many good reasons to bring your US car back to the UK firstly, if you have owned the vehicle for more than six months and lived in the US for more than one year, you will not have any tax/duty to pay on arrival in the UK.

American cars in the UK have a large following and the right car can sell for very good money, for example a Shelby GT500, even a couple of years old, still can sell for £30k – HM customs require that you keep the car for at least a year in the UK before you sell it if you didn’t pay any tax / duty.

The Left Hand Drive market in the UK is also strong, with buyers coming in from Europe to take advantage of the weak pound and purchase a LHD vehicle to take back. Once a car is tested and registered in the UK, it is very easy for them to then re-register on the continent cheap vehicle recovery reading.

The US market over here is large enough that specialists are all over the country and parts are easy to come by

So there are the financial reasons, but there is also one huge factor….. fun! Nothing over here comes anywhere close to the exclusivity of an American car – our Mustangs get more attention and ‘street-cred’ than any Ferrari / Lamborghini – the amount of Ferrari owners we have upset at shows by drawing a larger crowd is huge J

So, how do you go about doing this…..

Well, I’ll be honest, it’s not easy if you are doing it yourself – here is a list of things to bear in mind:

US Transport – Make sure you use a trusted carrier who is insured to take your car to the port and deal with all the paperwork – your original title must be sent to your shipping agent

Shipping – In today’s market there is not such a price difference between ‘roll-on-roll-off’ (like a car ferry) or containerised – however I would always recommend containerised – your vehicle is safely strapped and chocked into a container which nobody has access to. Want all your personal effects stolen and your car driven to the ship enthusiastically? Then use Roll-on-Roll-off and save yourself a few dollars, I would not recommend it though…….

Marine Insurance – Make sure you insure the car not just for bumps and scrapes but also for total vehicle loss should the worst happen….

UK Unloading and Agency Fees – However you choose to ship, your car has to be unloaded from the ship, this is not something you can do yourself and so you need a UK clearance agent, they will also submit your documentation to customs for you

Customs Values – if you have owned the vehicle for more than 6 months and lived in the US for over one year, there is no VAT/Duty to pay, otherwise it’s 10% for cars and 22% for trucks and then 17.5% VAT – unless your car is a European built vehicle such as a Jaguar in which case it is just £50 duty and then the VAT on top

UK transport – Do not expect to turn up at port and drive your car away. You will lose your nice new UK driving license before you even hit the M25 (a motorway around London – you will experience it and you will not enjoy it;) ) – You need a suitable transport company to carry the car to whichever garage is carrying out your modifications, make sure they can carry legally the weight of your American car, many can’t and they are not insured

IVA Testing – Formally the SVA test, but renamed at huge cost to the ‘IVA Test’ but essentially the same – this is not an easy test to get through, the cars lighting system must be modified which on modern cars must be done properly by a trained IVA engineer, even European cars imported from the US are a real pain to get through this test as not many have the necessary E’Markings that VOSA inspectors love so much…. There are other requirements such as sharp edges, exhaust noise etc that you also must comply with. Can be a real headache and very costly if you are not experienced in it

MOT Testing – One more test to get through – the MOT checks any car over three years old for roadworthiness, things such as worn tyres/brakes/suspension – sometimes if you fear your car may fail, best to buy spares and put them in your car before shipping from US (only if shipping by container for safety)

DVLA Registration – A large part of my life has been spent in a local DVLA office and so could a large part of yours if you do not fill in the correct forms and provide the correct documentation – you will at this point need UK insurance which you need an insurance company willing to insure the car on a chassis number as you will not have a registration number yet

DVLA Inspection – Sometimes you have to take the car to the DVLA for them to look at – again, use a suitable transport company

Number plates – Make sure you fit nice looking UK/US sized plates to suit the look of your car.

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