Car import check

Need to find out whether a UK-registered car is an import?

Enter the reg number into our FREE Car Import Check tool now.

Is my car an import?

If you have reason to believe that your car may have been imported to the UK, enter its reg number into the field above. Our Car Import Check tool can tell you whether the vehicle has been imported in an instant.

Whilst owning and driving an imported vehicle isn’t illegal, it does carry its risks – finding out if you have an imported car can help you decide how to proceed.

How can I find out where a car was imported from?

Whilst online tools can verify a vehicle’s import status, specific information such as the country of origin is not readily available to the public. If you are thinking about purchasing an imported car, you can ask the seller to confirm its country of origin. Do not commit to a sale unless you fully trust the seller.

What are the different types of imported vehicles?

There are three categories of imported vehicle commonly found in the UK:

  • Parallel import

    A vehicle built within the EU (to EU standards) and later transported to the UK.

  • Grey import

    A non-standard model that has never been available on the UK or EU markets.

    These are usually specialist vehicles imported from Japan or the United States.

  • Personal import

    A vehicle that has been imported to the UK by an individual, usually the driver. This is common practice amongst classic car collectors.

Should I buy a car that has been imported?

You should carefully weigh up the pros and cons of imported vehicles before deciding whether to purchase one for yourself. If our Car Import Check tool shows that you already have an imported vehicle, you should consider whether it is worth keeping.

Car import on boat illustration

Advantages of buying an import

  • Imported vehicles may be cheaper.
  • You may be able to locate a rare model that is not available in the UK.

Disadvantages of buying an import

  • Locating repair parts may be more difficult.
  • Insuring your vehicle will likely be more expensive.
  • Imported vehicles depreciate at a faster rate than UK vehicles.
  • Recorded mileage cannot be guaranteed.
  • You will not be covered by a warranty.

Frequently asked questions

A car’s resale value is determined by numerous factors, including its age, mileage, condition – and even colour. Its import status can also affect second-hand value. Many imported vehicles do not have all the same safety features as their domestically sold counterparts, which can reduce their perceived value.

Maintenance for imported car models may also be more difficult due to the scarcity of compatible spare parts – and few local mechanics understanding their specific needs.

When declaring an imported vehicle, VAT is charged on the total cost of the vehicle, along with any accessories that you bought with it, the delivery costs, and any other miscellaneous charges.

If your Car Import Check confirms that your vehicle is imported, you must register your imported vehicle with the DVLA by filling in a V55/5 form and sending it to the DVLA with all relevant supporting documents.

These include proof of vehicle approval, the original foreign registration certificate and evidence showing the date the vehicle was collected. Once the DVLA has received these and officially registered the vehicle, you’ll receive a V5C logbook for the vehicle within 6 weeks.

Imported vehicles are subject to the same ULEZ rules and charges as UK vehicles. Only imported vehicles which meet the ULEZ exemption requirements are exempt from these charges.

Imported vehicles are subject to the same laws as UK vehicles. Therefore, once they are over three years old, they must be taken for an MOT test on an annual basis, unless exempt.

You can check whether your vehicle has a valid MOT certificate (and when its next MOT is due) by running its reg number through our free MOT check tool.

To make sure your imported car is ready for its next MOT, please refer to our comprehensive MOT checklist.

Imported vehicles are subject to the same ULEZ rules and charges as UK vehicles. Only imported vehicles which meet the ULEZ exemption requirements are exempt from these charges.

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