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Bringing a vehicle into the UK?

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Importing a classical car or vehicles of historical interest

Motor vehicles of Historical Interest

UK Customs has acknowledged that even motor vehicles can lay claim to being of historical interest. However, as you would expect, the criteria to qualify for this, are quite clear.

Any motor vehicle over 30 years old is automatically eligible for import duty relief and a reduced rate of VAT. (You will usually be asked to provide documentary evidence, such as a copy of an insurance letter/certificate stating that it has or is an offer for ‘classic car insurance’).

Now, if your vehicle is newer, it doesn’t necessarily mean your vehicle cannot obtain these same low rates. But, you have to write to Customs to apply for a BTI (Binding Tariff Information), explaining your reasons. Perhaps its rare, or may have been owned by a famous person, or won a famous race etc.

Customs have a page on their website from which the text below is taken:

“In order for vehicles (and ‘original authentic’ as opposed to ‘modern replica’ parts) to be considered as eligible for historic collectors status, you’ll have to provide information dating the year of manufacture. You must also state whether any substantial changes have been made to the vehicle as modernised or modified vehicles are excluded.

Repairing and restoring is allowed, and broken or worn-out parts, accessories and units can be replaced, provided that the vehicle is preserved and maintained in the historically correct condition.”

Please contact us if you require more information. ukimports

FAQ. Can my vehicle be classed as being of ‘Historical Interest’?

A. Vehicles which are considered of historical interest are not liable for any import duty and the VAT due is payable at the reduced rate of just 5.0%.

To be eligible under this scheme, your vehicle will have to satisfy certain criteria, the main one being age. In 2005 UK Customs released a Notice stating that anything which is pre-1950 automatically qualifies as a vehicle of historical interest. But age isn’t the only deciding factor. (Although a more recent online publication would indicate that may now be out-of-date: Classifying vehicles guidance).

Other factors such as; it being extremely rare, limited edition, original mint condition, owned by a famous person, used in a film, winner of a race, or perhaps the first vehicle to use certain technological improvements such as brakes, lights or doors etc. etc.

If your vehicle falls under one of these, then you should not have a problem getting the reduced duty and VAT.

NEW FROM 2015 (or there about) … Some recent customers have also advised us that another acceptable criteria is: Classic Car Insurance. If you can get insurance through a UK Insurer or Insurance broker based on the age, value, condition etc. of the vehicle, that they can provide you with Policy or a quote which clearly states ‘Classic Car’, then we have been advised that this would mean that you too are eligible. IMPORTANT!: As this is something new which we are hearing, it may not apply in all cases. Please check with UK Customs explaining your particular circumstances and they will advise you accordingly.

If you feel that your vehicle could be classed as being of historical interest then you would need to apply to HMRC for a BTI, submitting documentary evidence to support your claim.

Email HMRC at for further information on this.

All other vehicles will be subject the VAT at the Standard rate of 20.0%.

Remember : Shipping and Customs clearance doesn’t have to be expensive, but choosing the wrong agent could be! ™ ukimports

For more information on importing cars, motorcycles, boats, pick-ups or any other motor vehicle, please feel free to contact a member of our Imports Team, on 0345 309 6360, or email us at:


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