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Driving Foreign Cars

By: Tracy Whitelaw - Updated: 6 Nov 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
Driving Foreign Cars Driving Abroad

Many people in the UK will at some point in their life drive abroad. For some, this is extremely straight forward and there's no real difference from driving in the UK. For others, the thought of driving a foreign car under foreign road rules can be extremely stressful. Whether you're planning to drive a foreign car abroad, or perhaps bring in a car from abroad to the UK, there are a number of important points to consider.

Driving a Foreign Car in the UK

If you've been living abroad or are a non UK national who is moving there, you may want to bring your car with you. Overall, this isn't a difficult process, but there are mandatory steps that are required in order to make the car legal in the UK. To bring a foreign car to the UK, you must:

  • Find a transport agency that can get your vehicle legally into the UK
  • Ensure you have registered and licenced your vehicle beforehand so you can drive it straight away
  • Make sure your car passes a SVA (Single Vehicle Approval) test
  • If your car is over 3 years old, it must pass a mandatory MOT test also

In order to register your foreign car in the UK, you must go to a UK based post office and get a V55/4 or a V55/5 form. If your car is new, get the V55/4 form and if it's used, get the V55/5 form. The form will provide you with information on what documentation you need to complete it and also whether there are any fees involved. If you have completed all the documentation needed and paid all the correct taxes in the country of origin for the vehicle, you can drive in the UK legally. You can keep your foreign licence plates for six months, within a twelve month period, but after this point, you must get your British licence plates.

Driving Foreign Cars in the UK on a Foreign Licence

If you are moving to the UK, you may still have a driving licence for your country of birth. You are able to drive in the UK on your foreign driver's licence for 12 months. If you are a member of the European Economic Union, you are able to drive in the UK on your licence until it is no longer valid. After this time, you should obtain a UK driving licence.

If you originate from one of the British colonies or from some other countries (such as South Africa, South Korea, Japan), then you can exchange your licence after 12 months. If you are from another country, including the US, you will need to pass a British driving test to continue driving after 12 months.

Driving Foreign Cars While Abroad

If you are driving abroad, there are often concerns about the differences between driving a car that has been designed for use in the UK or a foreign car that is designed for a different country. Many people panic, assuming that it will feel extremely alien to drive abroad, however, in general there are a lot of similarities and it is mainly the road rules that differ. When driving abroad in a foreign car:

  • Familiarise yourself with the car – Always find out where the indicators are, hazard lights, break pedal etc before moving off
  • Learn Local Road Rules – which side of the road should you be on, are there unfamiliar warning signs and road signs
  • Research Local Car Necessities – Do you need headlight covers, should you carry a warning triangle, what papers do you need with you

If you are used to driving a manual car, you may not feel comfortable with an automatic. Many countries in Europe and especially places further a field like the USA and Australia, offer automatic cars as standard. If you aren't comfortable with this, ask for a manual car, most hire companies will have both available. Ultimately, you should relax and try and keep cool on the road. Take your time, get used to how a foreign car feels and pay attention to other drivers.

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[Add a Comment]
If I leased a car (for 4 year) abroad (within EU) so I am not really the owner. Can I drive it in the UK? I am not able to find anything on leased foreign cars. I am intending to leave in 2 years time so the car is only temporarily here.
DB - 6-Nov-15 @ 3:48 PM
TWO JAYS- Your Question:
I am thinking of buying a car registered in the check republic from the widow of a family friend for use in Majorca.timing possibly means I would have to bring it into the uk and park it a garage for approx7 months before I can take it to Majorca where it will be registered as a Spanish vehicle are there any uk charges payable

Our Response:
If you're going to drive it on the roads in the UK and you are a UK resident, then you will have to tax, insure and MOT it here.
AboutDrivingAbroad - 18-Aug-15 @ 12:50 PM
I am thinking of buying a car registered in the Czech republic from the widow of a family friend for use in Majorca.timing possibly means I would have to bring it into the uk and park it a garage for approx7 months before I can take it to Majorca where it will be registered as a Spanish vehicle are there any uk charges payable
TWOJAYS - 17-Aug-15 @ 8:32 PM
when visiting family in california, can i drive their car on my driving license
sparky - 24-Apr-13 @ 12:06 PM
am trying to find out if i can drive a private owned car in california on my uk driving license
sparky - 23-Apr-13 @ 10:38 PM
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