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Registration

  When you arrive in the UK, and after you leave customs, you are required to register your car 'as soon as possible after it arrives in the country'. The application for registration should be made using a V55/5 form, available at your nearest Vehicle Registration Office (see list below). I had one sent to me in advance, which is advisable. However, one of the requirements for registration is that the vehicle has passed the SVA test (see modifications).

The DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) website states:

A vehicle which is permanently imported for use in Great Britain must be registered and licensed as soon as possible after it arrives in this country. After arrival you are only entitled to drive the vehicle on foreign registration plates from the port of entry to your home address, place of destination or to a pre-arranged test. Thereafter the vehicle must be kept off the road until the registration formalities have taken place. Application for registration should be made to your nearest. N.B. Generally it is not possible to offer an "over the counter service".

You will need to provide the Vehicle Registration Office (VRO) with:

  • The US registration documents.
  • The US bill of sale to prove it is your car. Probably the Title would suffice, but if you bought it from a dealer then the sales documentation would probably be a good idea too. As mentioned earlier - some private importers have had permission from their US bank to bring a vehicle to the UK which is still being paid for. I suggest a letter from the bank confirming this would be useful at this stage.
  • A copy of the customs form that you will receive on entry (either C&E386 or C&E388)
  • Proof of UK insurance (I think a cover note will do but get the real thing in advance just to be on the safe side). Either way, you will need to contact a UK insurer before you can collect the car. Apparently the RAC and the AA can arrange temporary insurance at the port if you haven't.
  • The MOT certificate if over three years old (the car - not you!). This means that between the port and the VRO part of getting there as 'soon as possible' includes a small diversion to the MOT test centre for cars over three years old or to the garage for light conversions and the SVA centre for testing! In practice there seems to be a little flexibility here - after all the chances of the police stopping you for driving on foreign plates during your first few days here is pretty slim. Even if they did they would probably not be familiar with the import rules and anyway, as long as you have a plan to do the conversions and SVA quickly then you do need to get the car from one to the other so you have a legitimate excuse. I would recommend that you plan these jobs for as soon as practically possible after you arrive though!
  • 165 (about $280) for one year's registration!
  • The VRO will ask you to complete a V55/5 form, which you can do on the spot but the Reading office mailed me one in advance.
  • Proof of passing the Single Vehicle Approval test (see modifications).

In exchange you should receive a tax disk for your windscreen and a registration number for your number plate. Then you need to go and buy a number plate. If you are American, the way you get a number plate (licence plate) is different in the UK. Rather than having one made by prisoners and needing to go and order and collect it from the public department of safety, you buy it in a car parts shop while you wait. The interesting thing is that British number plates are long and thin and American ones are shorter and squat so you may need to get one that normally goes on a motorcycle.

By the way, although it is cheap and easy to buy a personalised number plate in the US, it is more complicated and dull in the UK.

It is expensive and explained on the DVLA Web site: www.dvla-som.co.uk.

I found the registration a fairly painless process, except we went on the last day of the month which had two dissadvantages. First you end up paying for the whole month's worth of tax even though you only get about 6 hours worth (that annoyed me) and second there was a queue about 100 people long that took an hour or so to get to the front of.

By the way, on the front of my Explorer I managed to get Ford to supply me a UK style number plate mounting, so I could put a UK number plate on properly. For the rear number plate there is no room in the bumper indent for a UK style one but I discovered that the Mildenhall folks can get US sized number plates with the UK numbers on. I got one from them for just 8.50 and it looks great.

Useful contacts

List of Vehicle Registration offices

Bangor
Penrhos Road,
Penrhosgarnedd,
Bangor,
LL57 2JF
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Beverley
Crosskill House,
Mill Lane,
Beverley,
HU17 9JB
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Birmingham
2nd Floor,
Edward House,
Edward Street,
Birmingham,
B1 2RF
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Bournemouth
Ground Floor
Bourne Gate,
25 Bourne Valley Road,
Poole,
BH12 1DX
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Brighton
4th Floor
Mocatta House
Trafalgar Place
Brighton,
BN1 4UE
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Bristol
Northleigh House,
Lime Kiln Close,
Stoke Gifford,
Bristol,
BS34 8SR
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Cardiff
Archway House,
77 Ty Glas Avenue,
Llanishen,
Cardiff,
CF14 5DX
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Carlisle
Ground Floor,
3 Merchants Drive,
Parkhouse,
Carlisle,
CA3 0JW
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Chelmsford
2nd Floor,
Parkway House,
49 Baddow Road,
Chelmsford,
CM2 0XJ
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Chester
Norroy House,
Nuns Road,
Chester,
CH1 2ND
Tel: 0870-850-0007
CR Enforcement Centre
Alhambra House
45 Waterloo Street
Glasgow
G2 6HE
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Dundee
Caledonian House,
Greenmarket,
Dundee,
DD1 4QP
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Edinburgh
Department of Transport
Saughton House,
Broomhouse Drive,
Edinburgh,
EH11 3XE
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Exeter
Hanover House
Manaton Close
Matford Business Park,
Marsh Barton,
Exeter,
EX2 8EF
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Glasgow
46 West Campbell Street,
Glasgow,
G2 6TT
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Inverness
Longman House,
28 Longman Road,
Inverness,
IV1 1SF
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Ipswich
Podium Level,
St Clare House,
Greyfriars,
Ipswich,
IP1 1UT
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Leeds
1st Floor
42 Eastgate,
Leeds,
LS2 7DQ
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Lincoln
Firth Court
Firth Road,
Lincoln,
LN5 7WD
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Luton
2 Dunstable Road,
Luton,
LU1 1EB
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Maidstone
Coronet House,
11 Queen Anne Road, Maidstone,
ME14 1XB
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Manchester
Trafford House,
Chester Road,
Manchester,
M32 0SL
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Newcastle Upon Tyne
Eagle Star House,
Regent Farm Road,
Newcastle Upon Tyne,
NE3 3QF
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Northampton
Ground Floor,
Riverside House,
Riverside Way,
Bedford Road,
Northampton
NN1 5PE
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Norwich
11 Prince of Wales Road,
Norwich,
NR1 1UP
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Nottingham
5 Nottingham Business Park
Orchard Place
Nottingham
NG8 6PX
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Oxford
Ground Floor,
3 Cambridge Terrace,
Oxford,
OX1 1RW
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Peterborough
88 Lincoln Road,
Peterborough,
PE1 2ST
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Portsmouth
5th Floor,
The Connect Centre,
Kingston Crescent,
North End,
Portsmouth
PO2 8AH
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Preston
Fulwood Park,
Caxton Road,
Fulwood,
Preston,
PR2 9NZ
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Reading
77 - 81 Basingstoke Road,
Reading,
RG2 0ER
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Sheffield
Cedar House,
Hallamshire Court,
63 Napier Street,
Sheffield,
S11 8HA
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Shrewsbury
Whitehall,
Monkmoor Road,
Shrewsbury,
SY2 5DR
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Sidcup
12/18 Station Road,
Sidcup,
DA15 7EQ
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Stanmore
Government Building,
Canon Park,
Honeypot Lane,
Stanmore,
Middlesex,
HA7 1BD
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Stockton
St Marks House
St Marks Court
Thornaby
Stockton on Tees
TS17 6QR
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Swansea
Heol Pentre Felen,
Swansea,
SA6 7HG
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Truro
Pydar House,
Pydar Street,
Truro,
TR1 2TG
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Wimbledon
Ground Floor
Connect House,
133-137 Alexandra Road,
Wimbledon,
SW19 7JY
Tel: 0870-850-0007
Worcester
Clerkenleap Barn,
Broomhall,
Worcester,
WR5 3HR
Tel: 0870-850-0007
   

 
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