Importing a classic car into the UK

Plenty has been said of the benefits of importing your dream classic car from warmer, drier climates. It is a very rewarding process: the hunt for the right car, negotiating, viewing and researching its history culminating in the anticipation when you finally see it landed in the UK. I’ll admit it seemed a bit daunting first time around, but it was part of the adventure of buying a classic with (hopefully) less tin worm than we see in UK cars.

In reality the process is fairly simple, helped largely by finding the right shipping agents in the UK. I’ve had very good experience with both Kingstown Shipping and Golden Chariots. Both are UK based with agents in North America, and both can act as your agent in the UK and USA to manage the customs processes for export and import. I’ve also had great experience dealing directly with West Coast Shipping in the USA for export and shipping.

Once you’ve sourced and paid for that dream classic, all three companies above can organise collection from the seller and transportation to the dock. They will also take care of collecting the vehicle title/registration and a bill of sale (having both is recommended) and forwarding to you in due course. With your classic now loaded on the ship you can monitor its progress online or on your smartphone (you’ll need the vessel details) with Marine Traffic.

With your classic en route, its time to get the paperwork in order for importing to the UK and registering with the DVLA. Both Kingstown Shipping and Golden Chariots can advise on which HMRC forms need completed, and advise on any tax relief due to historic vehicle status. Once it has arrived in the UK there will be tax and import duty to be paid, along with any dock handling and shipping agent fees, before the vehicle is released and can be collected. The shipping agents also take care of NOVA submission which must be in place before the vehicle can be registered with the DVLA.

With your dream car or camper now ready to be collected, both Kingstown Shipping and Golden Chariots can arrange delivery. We also use Black Pearl Recovery for our vehicle transportation, including collections from shipping ports.

Your car will then need registered with the DVLA, which may require an MOT but as a minimum inspected and modified for use in the UK (eg lighting requirements).