What I have learnt about importing a vehicle into the UK

So after much thought I have pretty much given up on the idea of importing my van, Im going to hold out for a left hand drive over here.

In summary, my reasons for this are - 

  1. Risk - the whole issue with being scammed, having no idea what Im buying or whether I can make it home seems too risky for me.
  2. Cost - while importing theoretically shouldnt cost too much, it will still cost something and potentially it could be very expensive to get it ready for its MOT.  Im not sure whether overall I would be saving enough to make it worth all the stress and inconvenience of getting a van from overseas.
  3. Language - I like to be really clear on whats happening, and that just isnt possible.
  4. Its too scary...and Im a coward!
So, whether this is the wrong or the right choice, its the choice I have made.  I have also decided that the £2000 it would cost to get a popup roof would probably be better invested in getting a better base vehicle.  So I am looking at how easy it would be to install a hammock in a van instead.  I love the idea of a van hammock!
But for future reference for anyone who is interested, here is a summary of what I have learnt about importing a vehicle.

  1. You need to get an import pack from the DVLA.  This needs to be completed once the van is in the country, and taken with evidence of MOT, tax and insurance to your local DVLA office.
  2. You need to get the MOT and the tax as soon as you get to the UK - they recommend you get the vehicle transported over because of this but I think you could work around this.
  3. The best sites to look for vehicles in Germany are mobile.de and ebay.de
  4. Vehicle inspections in Germany can be arranged by ADAC or TUV - neither seem like they do that thorough a check so if you have someone on the ground out there or the skills and time to go out yourself then I think that would be a better option.
  5. German vehicles come with 3rd party insurance on the export plates which is valid in any country until the plates expire.
  6. You cannot use this insurance to register the car in the UK - you need UK based insurance, which can be obtained using the VIN from one of these brokers.
  7. Personally, I wouldnt consider buying a vehicle from a country where I dont even have the basics of communication.
  8. Unless you can book a ferry a long time in advance, the cheapest way to get back to the UK by a long way is using the Channel Tunnel.
  9. If your vehicle is under 10 years old, it has to be put through a Type Approval test - the guy I spoke to at the DVLA said that most vehicles require various expensive modifications to pass this.  Vehicles over 10 years old can skip this and go straight to get their MOTs.
  10. For these older vehicles to pass a UK MOT, the most likely modifications you will have to make are to ensure the foglight is on the correct side and the headlights beam points the correct way.  Also make sure your speedometer shows values in miles or this can be an expensive change to have to make.
  11.  German vehicles should come with an ownership document, a registration document, proof of emissions testing & a TUV test, and a contract of sale.
And thats my top 11 tips!  There are some really great sites online with info from people who have actually had the guts to go through with all this stuff.

So now its back to searching through Ebay here in the UK to find the perfect van!


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