Last year around this time, I wrote about our decision to move to the UK. I totally forgot about following up on that, so here’s Part 2: Importing the Sprite!
UK law states that you can drive an EU-registered vehicle in England for a maximum of 6 months of the year, after which it must leave the UK. In this case, the car was fully legal as a daily driver until those 6 months were up.
When it comes to officially importing a vehicle, it must be declared to the HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs) within 14 days of it entering the UK, if the intent is for it to remain in the country. Since we weren’t sure if we would be able to find jobs and a home, and subsequently remain in the UK long-term, I didn’t actually need to declare the Sprite until one of those things happened.
Note: I double checked my thinking with a quick call to the HMRC, who confirmed I didn’t need to register the car until my intent to stay changes. This rule may well have changed after I publish this blog!
Luckily for me, I found a job as a Junior Graphic Designer (I was shooting for a Mid-Senior role, but work is work!) relatively quickly and found a long-term flat for rent a couple months later. With 2 months left out of my 6 month period, I signed up for an account on the HMRC NOVA (Notification of Vehicle Arrival) website and filled out the quick and easy form. You’ll have to declare the vehicle’s most recent purchase price, general characteristics and personal details. The service is free, and in my case took only 12 hours to get a reply saying it was successfully registered! If your vehicle exceeds a certain value, you’ll also have to pay import duties on it – I wasn’t asked to though.
If my Sprite was a newer car (late 90s onwards), I’d have to contact the manufacturer for a Type Approval document, proving it meets the standards for driving on British roads (such as the headlight arrangement for RHD, proper safety and emissions equipment, etc.). As British Leyland no longer operate and the car is considered Vintage, I skipped this step.
Next, I requested a Used Vehicle Import Pack, V55/5 and V355/5. These are all the supplements and documents I needed to successfully register and “tax” (though it is tax-exempt) the car. They were mailed to me free of charge! Alternatively, download and print out the V55/5 document from here.
With that done, I brought the car to a MOT (Ministry of Transport) testing station to ensure the vehicle met UK road-worthiness. I quickly discovered the tests are much stricter than those in Spain, quickly failing me for a lack of rubber anti-slip pads on the brake and clutch pedal and split tie-rod end covers. A quick call to Moss Europe ensured I had the parts within 3 days – failed MOT tests generally give you 7-10 days for a free retest.
With a successful MOT test, my completed V55/5 document and the Spanish registration document in hand, I sent them all off to the DVLA (Driver and Vehicles Licensing Agency) along with several photocopies of my passport, driver’s license and proof of address and a postal order of 50ish Pounds for the registration fee.
A week later, I received confirmation that Wilson was now officially registered in the UK! The original BI-7866-F Bilbao plates were taken off and stored in the shed, patiently awaiting the new silver-on-black aluminum plates used for classic cars in the UK. Almost a month later, a total of 6 weeks after starting the process, I received my V55 document as well, finalizing the entire process.
The import and registration process went much faster and smoother than I expected, and was entirely do-it-yourself. An impossible feat back in Spain!
As always, thanks for reading!