Notifying HMRC and paying VAT on vehicles brought into the UK

When a motor vehicle is brought permanently into the UK from abroad, you must notify HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) using the Notification of Vehicle Arrivals (NOVA) system. The vehicle must then be registered and licensed through the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), or the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Northern Ireland.

This guide explains how VAT-registered businesses must notify HMRC and pay or account for the VAT due on vehicles brought into the UK.

On this page:

Types of vehicle that must be notified

You must notify HMRC of all land vehicles that you bring permanently into the UK, if the vehicle:

  • has an engine with a displacement or cylinder capacity of more than 48 cubic centimetres
  • or is constructed or adapted to be electrically propelled using more than 7.2 kilowatts (about 9.65 horsepower).

This includes, for example: cars, racing cars, motorcycles, off-road motorcycles, children's motorcycles, trikes, golf buggies, tractors, combine harvesters, fork-lift trucks, bulldozers and mopeds.

Types of vehicle that you do not need to notify

You do not need to notify HMRC about either of the following vehicles:

  • any land vehicle with a displacement or cylinder capacity lower than 49cc or (if electrically propelled) 7.3 kw
  • vehicles that have no engine or other method of self propulsion such as pedal cycles, wheelbarrows, caravans or trailers

Find more information about importing vehicles from outside the EU in Customs Information Paper (13) 41 (PDF 22K)


Notifying HMRC of vehicles brought into the UK

Vehicles brought permanently into the UK must be notified to HMRC within 14 days and any VAT due paid or accounted for. This means that you will not be able to register and license your vehicle(s) with DVLA or DVA until you have received confirmation from HMRC that your notification has been processed. The vehicle(s) must be for use in your business or onward sale by your business.

The quickest and easiest way to make your notification is online. By making an online notification you will usually receive an immediate acknowledgement from HMRC and calculation of any VAT due. You can notify up to 100 vehicles in 1 submission. If you're a VAT registered business notifying multiple vehicles of the same type you may be able to attach a spreadsheet to your online notification, or use the multiplication facility within the NOVA online service.

Find out more about telling HMRC you're importing multiple vehicles on the GOV.UK website (Opens new window)

You can also make your notification by completing a paper form (VAT NOVA1) and returning it to HMRC. You must phone the VAT Helpline to request a form VAT NOVA1.

A tax agent, adviser or a freight forwarding agent can make a notification on your behalf but if you are a VAT registered business then the agent must be registered as an online agent with HMRC.

How to access the NOVA online service

If your business is already signed up to use VAT online

You can access and use the NOVA online service immediately. To make a notification you, or your agent MUST login to your HMRC Online services account with the User ID and password that is used for your VAT online services, for example when submitting your VAT Return. NOVA online will be listed as a service you can access from the 'Your HMRC services' page.

If your business isn’t signed up to use the VAT online

This maybe for example because you use an agent, bookkeeper or accountant to submit your VAT returns online, then you must sign up for VAT online before you can access and use NOVA to make notifications directly on behalf of your business.

If your business has already enrolled for other online services

If you are enrolled for services such as Self Assessment online or PAYE online for employers, you’ll need to add VAT online to the services you use before you can make a NOVA notification on behalf of your business

Please note: If you don’t follow this process, HMRC will not recognise you as a VAT registered business and you’ll have to pay any VAT due on your vehicle purchases immediately rather than account for the tax on your next VAT return.

Find out how to sign up to use VAT online services

Log in to HMRC Online Services to make your NOVA declaration

Contact the VAT Helpline for advice about how to notify your vehicle

Read how an agent can get authorisation to act on a client's behalf

Find more details in VAT Information Sheet 06/13 'Notification of Vehicle Arrivals'

If you're a non VAT-registered business or private individual

If your business is not registered for VAT or you are a private individual, the process of notifying HMRC and paying the VAT due on a vehicle is different from that for a VAT-registered business.

Read how VAT applies if you import a personal vehicle


Information you need to notify a vehicle

To make a notification you need to have detailed information available including:

  • the make, model, engine size and body type of your vehicle
  • the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  • the existing registration number of the vehicle (if applicable)
  • the value of the vehicle
  • mileage details
  • details of your supplier for vehicles from within the EU
  • the import entry number and the commodity code for vehicles from outside the EU

Please note that this list is not exhaustive and you may need additional information to make your notification.


Late notifications

If you do not notify within 14 days of the vehicle arriving in the UK, HMRC may issue a late notification penalty. The penalty rate is £5 for each day late.

If you disagree with a late notification penalty you should write and tell HMRC why you disagree. You can do this by email to Personal Transport Unit or by letter to:

HM Revenue and Customs Personal Transport Unit
Building 22, Priory Court
St John’s Road
CT17 9SH

Follow the link below for further information about how to appeal against an HMRC decision and the options available to you if you and HMRC are unable to agree.

How to appeal against an HMRC decision-indirect tax


Paying or accounting for the VAT due

When you pay or account for the VAT due on the vehicle depends on where it is being purchased from.

Vehicles from within the EU

If your vehicle is purchased within the EU you must account for the VAT on your next VAT Return. You must enter this figure in Box 2 of your return.

Vehicles from outside the EU

If your vehicle is purchased outside the EU you must pay the VAT (and any other duties) to HMRC at the time it is imported into the UK. You can then claim the VAT paid as 'input tax' when making your next VAT Return.

Read more about how to pay your VAT


More useful links

Read how to complete your VAT Return box-by-box

Read about imports, acquisitions from abroad: paying and reclaiming

Motor dealers and VAT: buying vehicles for resale or other use

How agents can use the Notification of Vehicle Arrivals online service

Find more details in VAT Information Sheet 06/13 'Notification of Vehicle Arrivals'