Important Things To Keep In Mind When Registering A Car Upon Its Import


You have set your eyes on a new German model only to find out that the required specifications are not  distributed in your country? Instead of getting the car of your desires, you can now only choose an alternate model and let’s be honest, that model just isn’t cutting it. This guide will cover the basics car owners need to consider when importing a vehicle from a different country because nothing should prevent you from driving that new BMW model along the seafront.

  • 1. Informing the Governing Body

One of the first steps new car owners should tackle is informing the governing body in their home country, even before the import has been completed. This way, a fast and efficient process can be ensured and the car owners don’t end up with a car stranded at the border because the governing body hasn’t been notified. In the UK, such a governing body would be Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC); however, do keep in mind that the Brexit transition period has now come to an end and processes could change spontaneously in the course of the year. In the US, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) should be contacted in the state or territory the car is intended to be used. Driving a vehicle without a licence can lead to prosecution in any country, so do check your home country’s rules and regulations carefully before you purchase a foreign vehicle. Certain countries will have exceptions in place for electric vehicles as these are currently filling a gap in the market and are being promoted for sustainability purposes. In the UK, the newly purchased vehicle should be declared to HMRC within 14 days.

  • 2. Taxes and Import Costs

The amount of tax charged upon import is typically dependent on the type of vehicle being imported, on the country of origin, as well as any accessories that were added to the purchase. Additional charges can be accumulated for the delivery and the duty, i.e. the freight and insurance charges during the shipping process. Tax costs can be reduced if the vehicles is being imported for certain reasons, i.e. if a foreigner is immigrating due to a job offer in the importing country but isn’t a resident of said country. In the US, vehicles are subject to the gas-guzzler tax which is calculated based on the vehicle’s fuel economy rating, while the vehicle’s undercarriage has to be cleaned of foreign soil before the import. International shipping companies can cover most of the logistics for you, and you certainly don’t have to pay the tax charges upfront at the harbour.

  • 3. Getting Vehicle Approval

Most vehicles will need to meet environmental standards of the country they are intended to be used in. This includes potential CO2 emissions as certain countries will prohibit the import of cars older than 20 or even 10 years. These older vehicles generally do not meet international standards of safety and environmental regulations. Furthermore, the country of origin plays a role in the registration process as international imports generally need further approval. In the UK, international imports have to apply for Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) or Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval (MSVA). Has a vehicle already been approved by the EU, the process becomes simpler as drivers will only need a European Certificate of Conformity from the manufacturer. The UK approval fee is currently £100. In the US, vehicles must meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS), while vehicles older than 21 years generally don’t meet the requirements. For questions related to the exact requirements for each type of vehicle, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) should be contacted. Should you find that your vehicle is nonconforming to US import standards, the vehicle can be modified by a DOT-registered importer. In the US, certain countries are further prohibited from exporting unauthorized vehicles and their suitability should be cleared before the purchase.

  • 4. Registering a New Vehicle

To finally be allowed to drive your new vehicle in its new country, registration forms are usually completed in the new home country. Once the import has been completed in the UK, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) manages the application. The process can be completed online and typically requires authentication documents such as your passport, your current driving licence, utility bills, or a recent bank statement. Supporting documents should also be provided as the agency will need proof of purchase, proof of payment for the vehicle tax, and proof of vehicle approval, as well as an insurance certificate for all imports to Northern Ireland. For specific regulations, the HMRC website has additional details related to MOT certificates and kit-built vehicles. Do keep in mind that upon completion of the online process, the DVLA may ask to inspect the imported vehicle in person to guarantee its safety and emission standards.

In the US, the process is dependent on the state or territory of the car owner but follows a similar scheme as in the UK. Buyers will have to show proof of authentication and supporting documents relating to the purchase, shipping, and conformity to US law. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will be supporting purchasers for most of the time, but independent companies can be hired for checks and inspections. Imports to the US have one disadvantage compared to the EU: processes are not streamlined between countries or even states and that can lead to longer waiting times, especially during the final registration process. Imports can take up to nine weeks from the day of shipment to fully complete shipping, inspection, and registration in the US. Sometimes, the pain of waiting is definitely worth it, though.

All in all, registering a car, although a boring step, is still part of the vehicle import process. So if you want to feel sure you don’t miss any details, visit Novora and especially its car import calculator, where you can get an approximate price of your dream car’s import and find out more about import procedures.