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Car insurance for temporary imports (non-UK residents)

Kasey Cassells
Written by Kasey Cassells, Senior content editor

Edited by Chris Wheal, Writer - Finance, 20 May 2022

Find out how to deal with car insurance and registration if you’re a non-resident planning to bring your car to the UK
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Read our guide on bringing your car to the UK as a temporary import
Car insurance for temporary imports (non-UK residents)

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Using your car if you are visiting the UK

If you’re planning to bring your car to the UK while you’re visiting, studying, or working, you are able to do so temporarily without registering it as a UK vehicle.

  • you can drive a foreign-registered car in the UK for up to six months without the need to register it, unless your number plates display numbers or letters that are not identifiable in the UK, for example Arabic script 

  • you can drive your car for the duration of your study or work assignment if you’re in the UK for a set period, but you will need to claim relief from VAT and duty and have that evidence to hand in case you are stopped by the police 

The six-month period allows you to use the car for up to six months during a 12-month period:

  • this can be one single visit, or several shorter visits adding up to a six-month period

  • your car needs to be registered and taxed in its home country.

There are slightly different rules if coming from the EU to Northern Ireland. Find out more about temporary car imports at Gov.uk.

Using your car if you are planning to stay in the UK

If you become a resident or stay for longer than six months you must register and tax your vehicle in the UK.

  • if you plan to keep your car in the UK permanently, you’ll need to re-register your vehicle

  • your car may need to be tested under the Individual Vehicle Approval scheme to ensure it is fit for permanent use on UK roads. 

There are slightly different rules for importing from the EU to Northern Ireland. Find out more on Gov.uk.

Importing your car if you move to the UK

If you are bringing your car into the UK, you need to tell HMRC within 14 days that the vehicle has arrived in the UK.

You will also have to:

  • pay VAT and duty if HMRC tells you to

  • get vehicle approval to show your vehicle meets safety and environmental standards

  • register and tax the vehicle with DVLA they’ll give you a registration number so you can get number plates made up

  • You must also get insurance before you drive it on UK roads.

You can claim duty relief by filling in form C110 and taking your vehicle through the ‘nothing to declare’ channel when you arrive in the UK.

There are slightly different rules for importing from the EU to Northern Ireland. Find out more on Gov.uk.

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Using foreign number plates for longer than 6 months

You might be able to use a vehicle with foreign number plates for longer than 6 months if:

  • you normally live outside the UK or the EU

  • you’re in the UK for a set period as a student or worker

  • you claim relief from VAT and duty

  • HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will give you a customs relief form when you claim relief – show it to police if you’re stopped when driving the vehicle

How to find car insurance for driving in the UK

If you’re driving your car in the UK temporarily, your existing insurance policy should be valid until it expires but may only get the minimum cover in the UK, which is normally third-party cover. This may apply even if you hold a higher level of insurance in your home country.

  • check with your existing insurer whether you’re covered to drive your car in the UK. 

  • some countries may issue you a "green card” document to prove you have insurance cover

  • you may also wish to extend your policy to cover more than third party damage while the car is being driven in the UK

  • Once you’ve been driving in the UK for six months (or your current insurance policy expires), you will need to get a UK insurance policy — in order to do this, you must register your car for UK use

If your car is imported you will need to shop around for specialist car insurance

Imported cars and car insurance – key facts

  • there are added complications compared to cars designed for use and registered in the UK 

  • there are different types of import and this will affect the cost of your premium

  • regular car insurance providers may increase premiums or excesses for imported cars

  • you may be able to find cheaper car insurance premiums by shopping around or using specialist import car insurance

How to save on personal import car insurance

There are ways you can save money on insuring your imported car. 

Consider a specialist insurer

Many larger insurers are wary of imported vehicles, especially personal imports that have not come through trusted manufacturers, so you may need to source specialist car insurance 

Increase your car’s security 

As imported cars are rarer than standard models, they are more likely to be targeted by thieves. Keep your car in a locked garage or secure driveway rather than on the road. Consider also installing alarms and trackers.

Limited use

If your imported car is going to be a second vehicle for occasional use, having a policy that reflects your limited annual mileage could save you money

Advanced driving 

You may even qualify for a discount if you have previous experience of driving performance models. Consider taking an advanced driving qualification (link to advanced driving piece)

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Shop around and consider multi car insurance

When you start looking for car insurance make sure you shop around for cheaper new driver car insurance.

If your family own several cars it may be better to insure them via a multi-car insurance policy

Multi insurance might also be suitable:

  • if you own more than one car

  • if you’re a family with more than one driver

  • if you’re a couple with more than one vehicle 

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