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When it comes to importing new or used cars from France to the UK, there are several requirements that apply to vehicle import from EU-countries to the UK. Read the text below for an overview of these car import requirements.

Notifying the HMRC

If you are bringing the car to the UK permanently, you have to notify HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). For this, you have 14 days. The car can’t be registered in the UK if you haven’t done this. For imports from the EU-countries, including France, the Notification of Vehicle Arrivals (NOVA) service is available for notifying HMRC. You will also need a Government Gateway account.

HM Revenue and Customs will let you know if you have to pay VAT and duty.

VAT and Duty for car import to the UK from France

If you are importing your car for personal use, you will have to pay VAT only. You will make the payment to HMRC directly. For this particular use, you can’t register the car in the UK if you haven’t paid VAT first.

VAT for second-hand cars

If the car you are transporting from France and importing to the UK, you don’t have to pay VAT on condition that:

– you have already paid VAT in France (or any other EU country)
– you have used the car more than 6 months
– the car had done over 3,728 miles (6,000 km)

Obtaining vehicle approval in the UK

For a vehicle to obtain approval for registration in the UK, it has to pass safety and environmental regulations. For vehicles that have not previously been registered in the EU, you have to apply for Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA).

Car registration in the UK – permanent

Provided you have notified HMRC, paid VAT and obtained vehicle IVA, you can register the car in the UK. You will also have to pay vehicle tax if you register it with DVLA. You will need a vehicle import forms pack from DVLA.

Car registration in the UK – temporary imports

Typically, you can use a car with foreign plates without registering or taxing in the UK provided you:

– are only visiting and not planning to live in the UK
– have registered and taxed the car in its home country
– will only use the car for no more than 6 months in total. This means that you can use it for 6 months in a row (in a single visit), or for a number of shorter visits over the period of 1 year (12 months).

Duty and VAT are not normally paid if you bring your own car from within the EU (in this case, from France) and it’s a temporary import.

Transport the car to the UK

Under normal circumstances, driving the car yourself from France to the UK is the most affordable option. If you are shipping a car from the USA to France and then plan to drive it to the UK, the car needs to be in driving condition. In this case, you can ship you care via RoRo (Roll-on/Roll-off) shipping. One of the benefits of RoRo shipping is that it provides reliable departure and arrival dates from the USA to France, so you can plan your own schedule accordingly.

A reliable US car shipping company is your reliable partner in the import process. In some cases, the same company who shipped your car can arrange for the car to be transported from France to the UK. You should explore all your options and choose the one that best fit your needs, timetable, and budget.

Important info to Ship a Car Overseas:
  • No car can leave USA if it has a lien on it. What does this mean? Your car must be paid in full. The only people who can ship a car overseas and still carry a lien on the car are US Military and Government employees/contractors. For those people a letter of authorization from the lender will need to be issued to pass US Customs. Otherwise the car may be considered stolen.
  • A clear Title of Ownership with no Liens on the Title.
  • If you bought a car new, then your name must be listed on the front of the Title as the registered owner.
  • If the vehicle has been sold, then both the Seller and Buyer have to sign the back of the Title in the spaces as detailed on the back of the Title.
  • For safety reasons, the vehicle cannot have more than a ¼ tank of gas.
Import Duty for Destination Country:
  • Import duty is NOT collected by Ship Overseas. It must be paid at the arrival port by whoever is picking up the car. We wrote a blog post about vehicle import duty here. It talks about how to find out import duty for your country.
Travel & Living Abroad:
  • Most countries will allow a traveler to temporarily import their car for up to 6 months. After the 6 months is up, import duty will be charged. For many travelers going to Europe and taking their car, a deposit is paid up front. When the car goes back to it's destination country, the deposit is refunded. If a person has lived in USA for 1 or more years, most countries will allow that person to bring their car back duty free! The car must not have any liens on it. Please check with your Customs Department first.
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