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Buying a Car Abroad

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 2 Dec 2020 | comments*Discuss
Importing A Car Abroad Foreign Car Vat

Buying a car from abroad or importing a car can mean a discount of as much as 50% off the price of car bought in the UK. Importing a car can be a daunting prospect for the inexperienced and although savings are expected there are a number of additional costs.

Why Buy a Car From Abroad?

Lower purchase price is one of the major reasons UK drivers decide to buy a car from abroad. Cars bought abroad will be less expensive, usually around half the price and sometimes more. There is also the prospect of owning a foreign car that is not readily available in the UK. Although it can seem like an extraordinary hassle the actual paperwork and shipping is a straightforward process. Some modifications may also be required to the vehicle depending on which country the car is being imported from.

Common Car Modifications when Importing from Abroad

Drivers who think they can simply import their car from abroad and drive immediately should think again. Cars imported into the UK may need certain modifications. This can include converting a left hand drive to a right hand drive. Other modifications can include headlight conversions and changing the speedometer facing. Non European vehicles imported to the UK will undergo a safety standards test and this will be an additional fee. The fees for Single Vehicle Approval run from £190 to £285.

Using a UK Vehicle Importer

Buyers will need to decide whether they are going to go it alone and arrange the import themselves or use a UK vehicle importer. Using an importer will mean a lot less work, for instance they will be able to deal with manufacturers from different countries without any language difficulties. Using an importer will also mean that they deal with most if not all of the major paperwork including customs and shipping. Importers will also have contacts with car dealers abroad and may be able to find the best deals available.

Major Costs When Importing a Car into the UK

Aside from the actual cost of the vehicle there will be some other major fees. Value Added Tax will be one of the major charges but the VAT is charged at the rate in the country in which the car is being imported to. If the buyer is purchasing a car from a country with a high rate of tax this can be subtracted from the final price. Then the UK VAT will be added onto the price of the vehicle. In some cases the car manufacturers recognise the high taxation in some foreign countries which is why cars are sold to these countries for less money.

Other Costs for Importing a Car into the UK

Import duty and shipping costs are also major considerations when importing a foreign car into the UK. Import duty will be ten percent although there are reduced rates for vehicles from certain countries. Shipping is a fairly straightforward process but prices will of course depend on where the vehicle is being transported from. Transporting a car from Holland is going to be less expensive than shipping one over from America. Buyers using a vehicle importer will also be charged a fee, and this can be a few thousand pounds.

The Best Countries to Buy a Car From

The best countries to buy a car from will depend on the buyer’s priority. Cars can be less expensive in European countries such as Holland and American cars are also less expensive when compared to the UK prices for the equivalent vehicles. Countries where the pound is strong against the foreign currency will also be a good bet for inexpensive car deals. But shipping costs will be a factor when importing from far flung destinations. Deciding on the specification of car desired and then undergoing a price by country comparison will be the best way to research prices.

When it comes to value for money there is much to be said for importing a car into the UK. But the paperwork, regulations and shipping process does seem to put a lot of people off the idea. In reality it may be worth the additional expense to use a UK importer to deal with the entire process. This will save on the paperwork and shipping red tape, and the buyer will still come out financially ahead compared to buying in the UK.

Residual Value

You should also note that an imported car, especially one which has been modified, may be worth less when you come to sell it on in the future.

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I want to buy a car from lille france and drive to uk what would i need to do where can i go for information is it a long hard process?
Rasta19 - 2-Dec-20 @ 7:39 AM
Hi I'm looking at importing a classic car from italy to uk. What's the best way to pay. Would it be credit card or bank transfer., which is safest. I'm unable to get over there so taking a punt!
Lankymatt - 5-Aug-20 @ 5:35 PM
I am in Portugal on holiday. I’ve found a car here that I really want to buy, it’s 30 years old. I want to buy it here and drive it back to the uk myself. Is this possible without Portuguese documents? How can I be insured to do that until I get it to the uk? Then I will import it once it’s there. Thanks
Ms - 24-Jan-20 @ 1:22 PM
Iam looking at buying a vwgolf or seat at a reasonable price
Davy - 14-Mar-16 @ 7:33 PM
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