How VAT applies if you import or export a personal vehicle

When you import a new or used motor vehicle permanently into the UK you must normally pay VAT and duty. If the vehicle arrives from outside of the European Union (EU), some reliefs from duty and VAT may be available.

When you export a motor vehicle from the UK, you can often claim VAT relief.

On this page:

Bringing your vehicle from another EU country to the UK

You must pay VAT when you bring a new motor vehicle permanently into the UK from another EU country.

A motor vehicle is classed as new if it first entered into service in the past 6 months or has driven 6,000 kilometres or less.

How to notify HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)

You must notify any new or used road or off-road vehicles brought permanently into the UK and pay any VAT due to HMRC. You must do this before you can register and license the vehicle with the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) or the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Northern Ireland. Your notification must be made within 14 days of your vehicle arriving in the UK.

The quickest and easiest way to make your notification is online using the Notification of Vehicle Arrivals (NOVA) service. If you are notifying more than one vehicle where all the vehicles’ details (except for the Vehicle Identification Number) are identical you may be able to use the multiplication facility within the NOVA online service, rather than entering each vehicle separately.

By making an online notification you will usually receive an immediate on-screen acknowledgement from HMRC and calculation of the VAT due if the valuation of the vehicle is verified. HMRC will also send an electronic message about the outcome of your notification using the customer communications service. You can access customer communications from the 'Your HMRC services' page.

You will have to set up an HMRC online services account if you do not already have one before you can use the NOVA online service (see below). A tax agent, adviser or a freight forwarding agent can make a notification on your behalf.

You can also make your notification by completing a paper form (VAT NOVA1) and returning it to HMRC but it will take longer for such a notification to be processed (up to 14 days). You must phone the VAT Helpline to request a form VAT NOVA1.

To make your notification, you will need to have detailed information available about the vehicle, 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 of the vehicle for vehicles from outside the EU

How to sign up for NOVA online

If you already have an HMRC online services account

You can access and use the NOVA online service straight away. To do this:

  1. Log in to your HMRC online services with your existing User ID and password.
  2. On the 'Your HMRC Services' page under the 'Services you can use' section.
  3. Select the 'Activate or access online services' link.
  4. NOVA will be listed as a service you can immediately access and use.

If you don't have an existing HMRC online services account

You will need to sign up for HMRC online service before you can access and use the NOVA online service. To do this:

  1. Go to www.hmrc.gov.uk.
  2. From 'Do it online' select 'Register (new users)'.
  3. From the 'Register for HMRC taxes and sign up for online services' page select 'Register - new users' from the right hand menu.
  4. From the 'What would you like to do' page select 'Sign up for HMRC online services'.
  5. From the 'New user' (type of account) page select 'Individual' or 'Organisation' depending on your circumstances.
  6. From the 'New user' (select a service) page select 'Notification of Vehicle Arrivals' and 'Next'.
  7. Complete the simple three step enrolment process.
  8. Notify - NOVA online will be listed on the 'Your HMRC services' page as a service you can immediately access and use.

Sign up for or log in to HMRC Online Services to make your NOVA declaration

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

What you have to pay and how to pay it

You have to pay VAT on the vehicle, any accessories purchased with the vehicle and any delivery or incidental charges.

The NOVA online service will calculate any VAT due. You must pay the VAT due before your notification can be fully processed and HMRC can confirm, in writing, that you can register and license the vehicle with the DVLA or DVA.

Read about paying VAT on vehicles brought into the UK

Find out more about bringing vehicles from other EU countries into the UK in VAT Notice 728

Access a list of DVLA and DVA offices in VAT Notice 728

Late notifications

If you do not notify HMRC within 14 days of the vehicle arriving in the UK you may receive a late notification penalty at the rate of £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 & Customs Personal Transport Unit
Building 22, Priory Court
St John's Road
Dover
Kent
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

Second-hand vehicles and temporary visits

If you're bringing a second-hand vehicle into the UK, you don't have to pay VAT - as long as you paid VAT in another EU country when you bought it, but you must still complete a NOVA notification to HMRC within 14 days of the vehicle arrival.

If you normally live in another country in the EU and bring a vehicle with you on a temporary visit to the UK, you don't need to notify HMRC, as long as your stay is for less than 6 months in a 12 month period.

Please note: If you initially bring a vehicle into the UK on a temporary basis but change your intention and want to keep it here permanently, you must notify HMRC. You must do this within 14 days of the date you change your mind using the NOVA online service, irrespective of whether the vehicle is for on road or off road use.

VAT-registered businesses

The process for notifying HMRC and accounting for the VAT due is different if you are a VAT-registered business.

Read about notifying HMRC and paying tax on vehicles brought into the UK for your business

Top

Sending your motor vehicle to another EU country from the UK

If you buy a new motor vehicle in the UK to take to somewhere else in the EU, you'll have to pay VAT on the vehicle in the other country when you arrive there. You won't have to pay UK VAT when you buy the car if you tell the supplier that you will be taking the vehicle to another country within the EU. You complete form VAT 411, which the supplier will give you and you agree to do all 3 of these things:

  • you or your authorised driver personally take delivery of the new vehicle in the UK
  • you remove it from the UK within 2 months of its supply to you
  • you and your supplier complete and sign form VAT 411 and send it to the address on the form

If you sell a new vehicle to someone who then removes it to another EU country within 2 months, you may be entitled to a refund of VAT. This only applies if you aren't registered for VAT in the UK, and you can demonstrate that you have paid UK VAT on the vehicle.

Obtain form VAT 411 New Means of Transport

Find out about exporting vehicles from the UK to other EU countries in VAT Notice 728

Top

Importing your motor vehicle to the UK from outside the EU

If you are importing a motor vehicle into the UK from outside the EU you must declare the vehicle to Customs and pay the VAT and duty due. HMRC will give you confirmation that you have paid the VAT and this will allow you to register the vehicle with the DVLA or DVA. You do not need to make a NOVA notification as this is done for you by HMRC.

Some Reliefs are available subject to specific conditions being met.

To get Transfer of Residence Relief, you must fill in and sign form C104A and present it when you bring the vehicle into the country.

You don't have to pay duty or VAT on the vehicle provided you meet all these conditions:

  • you are moving your normal home to the UK
  • you have had your normal home outside the EU for a continuous period of at least 12 months
  • you have possessed and used the vehicle for at least 6 months outside the EU
  • you didn't get the vehicle under a duty/tax-free scheme
  • you're going to keep the vehicle for your personal use for at least 12 months after it's imported

Obtain form C104A Importation of a private motor vehicle into the United Kingdom on transfer of residence from outside the European Community (EC)

Re-importing a vehicle that was previously exported

You can get Returned Goods Relief for VAT and duty relief if you are importing a vehicle that was previously exported from the EU provided you meet all these conditions:

  • the vehicle was taken outside the EU by you within the past 3 years
  • any VAT, duty or equivalent tax had been paid on the vehicle in the EU and was not refunded when the vehicle was taken outside the EU
  • the vehicle has had no alteration outside the EU other than necessary running repairs

If it arrives before or after you, you'll need to fill in and sign form C179B.

Obtain form C179B Re-importation of an unaccompanied private motor vehicle from outside EC

If you arrive with your vehicle you will be able to claim Returned Goods Relief by driving it through the 'green channel'. You must still have evidence of the original export of the vehicle and that you originally exported it, to present to a Customs Officer should they require it or to attach to form C21 if required at the port or airport.

Whichever method you choose to re-import your vehicle, if you don't provide evidence at the time of import security for the full amount of VAT and duty will be required.

More information about claiming Returned Goods Relief is available in Notice 236 and Notice 3.

Obtain Notice 236 - Importing returned goods free of duty and tax

Obtain Notice 3 - Bringing your belongings and private motor vehicle to the United Kingdom from outside the EC

Temporary admission

If the vehicle is registered outside the EU in the name of a non EU resident (if the vehicle is not registered outside the EU it must be owned by a non EU resident) and you're bringing it into the UK temporarily for your own private use, you can claim duty and VAT relief - as long as you don't sell, lend or hire the vehicle out anywhere in the EU, and provided you re-export the vehicle from the EU within 6 months. The 6 month time limit can be extended if you are a student or someone undertaking an assignment of a specific duration.

Although you don't need to make any formal customs declaration to claim VAT relief on a temporary importation, you can complete a notification form C110 which will help you identify for customs purposes that you are claiming relief in the event the vehicle is stopped for verification checks. If Police vehicles checks are subsequently carried out, use of the C110 may also help to avoid the vehicle being unnecessarily detained. Complete the C110 in duplicate, send 1 copy to the address on the form and keep the other copy with the vehicle whilst it is used within the UK. When you take the vehicle back out of the UK, enter the date of re-export on the second copy and send it to the address on the form.

Obtain form C110 Temporary Importation - Notice of arrival of a private motor vehicle

More about importing vehicles in Notice 3

Other reliefs are available for motor vehicles arriving from outside the EU, Inherited Goods Relief and Returned Goods Relief. More information on both these reliefs is available in Notice 368 and Notice 3.

Read Notice 3 - Bringing your belongings and private motor vehicle to the United Kingdom from outside the European Community

Read Notice 308 Temporary admission - temporarily importing non-EU means of transport

Read Notice 368 - Importing inherited goods free of duty and VAT

Top

Exporting motor vehicles outside the EU - the Personal Export Scheme

The Personal Export Scheme is for visitors to the UK from outside the EU, and EU residents who intend to leave the EU and remain outside it for at least 6 months. Under the scheme, when you buy a motor vehicle in the UK and you're going to export it, you don't have to pay VAT.

When you buy a vehicle under the scheme, the supplier will give you an application form VAT 410.

You must:

  1. Read VAT Notice 707.
  2. Complete the form.
  3. Sign it to say you have read Notice 707.
  4. Hand it back to the supplier.

If it's a new car, your vehicle will then be issued with a pink registration book - VX 302 - which means the car has been bought tax-free. For both new and old cars, you'll get a special tax disc.

If you are from outside the EU, you may use the vehicle in the UK during the last 12 months of your stay in the EU. If you are an EU resident who is emigrating, you may only use the vehicle during the last 6 months before you emigrate.

If you can't export the vehicle because it has been stolen, or involved in an accident and written off, you'll have to pay the VAT. If you don't export the vehicle by the due date, you'll have to pay the VAT - and the vehicle may be taken from you.

When you finally export the vehicle, you should notify the DVLA. For new vehicles you do this by completing and returning the tear-off section of the pink registration document VX 302. For second-hand vehicles you should complete and return the relevant section of the V5 registration document. The address is on the forms.

Re-importing vehicles after export

You don't have to pay VAT if you temporarily re-import a vehicle, or if you are permanently re-importing a vehicle and you meet all these conditions:

  • you are moving your normal home to the EU
  • you have had your normal home outside the EU for a continuous period of at least 12 months
  • you have owned and used the vehicle for at least 6 months outside the EU before it is imported
  • you didn't get the vehicle under a duty/tax-free scheme
  • you will keep the vehicle for your personal use for at least 12 months following the importation

Otherwise, if you are re-importing the vehicle at least 6 months after it was exported, or you can show that both you and the vehicle have remained outside the EU for at least 6 consecutive months, the VAT payable will be based on the value of the vehicle when it is re-imported. In all other cases, you'll be charged the VAT that wasn't paid when you bought the vehicle.

More about the Personal Export Scheme in VAT Notice 707

Top

More useful links

How agents can use the NOVA online service

Read more in the VAT Information Sheet 'Notification of Vehicle Arrivals (NOVA) (Revised)'

Top