Requirements for Car Shipping From the US to the UK

What to Know Before Shipping Your Vehicle to England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland

Shipping your car from the US to the UK? Trans Global Auto Logistics has over three decades of shipping experience. We’ve put together a collection of information below to help you better understand everything you need to know about shipping a vehicle to the UK.

For more information or rates, please fill out our online quote form and you’ll hear from one of our shipping specialists within 2 business days.

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US Documentation Export Requirements for Shipping Cars from US to UK

  1. U.S. Military Service Members:
    1. Original Title or Original notarized Lien Letter with copy of title
    2. PCS Orders
    3. Passport or EIN
  2. Non-Military:
    1. Original Title
    2. Copy of Bill of Sale
    3. Passport or EIN

UK Documentation Import Requirements for Vehicles

  1. Copy of Bill of Sale
  2. Copy of Registration Certificate or Vehicle Title

UK Duties / Taxes Due

Temporary Imports — You can usually use a vehicle with foreign number plates without registering or taxing it in the UK if all of the following apply:

  • You’re only visiting with no intention on living in the UK
  • Your vehicle is registered and taxed back at its home country
  • You only use the vehicle for up to 6 months total: this can be a single visit or several trips over a 12 month period
    For more information on Temporary Imports, please visit the Gov.uk website.

General guidelines on UK Duty & Taxes — Please note you must pay any VAT and Duty before your vehicle will be released by UK customs.

  1. Vehicles 30 years old or less
    1. Duty – 10%
    2. VAT – 20%
  2. Vehicles more than 30 years old
    1. Must be in original condition with no major modifications
    2. Duty – 0%
    3. VAT – 5%
  3. Boats under 12 metres
    1. Duty – 1.7% (if the boat does not exceed 100kg then the rate is 2.7%
    2. VAT – 20%
  4. Boats over 12 metres
    1. Duty – 0%
    2. VAT – 20%

*Please note that for Motorcycles and Boats manufactured in the USA, the EU/UK currently enforces a “retaliatory Duty” rate of 25%. This is in addition to the above Duty and VAT rates.

Cost & Transit Times for Shipping Car from US to UK

Cost and Transit times vary greatly depending on where your vehicle is in the USA and what UK port it needs to ship to.

  • Generally speaking, if your vehicle is located on the East Coast of the USA, then transit time is about 15 days. From the West Coast, transit time is around 30 days.
  • Please note you’ll need to factor in additional days for customs clearance and vessel loading/unloading.
  • Expect the whole shipping process to take about 30-45 days from the USA East Coast and 45-60 days from the West Coast.

To determine your cost, please get in touch with us and submit a free quote request, at no obligation to you.

UK Vehicle Import Approval

You’ll have to get vehicle approval to show that your imported vehicle meets regional environmental and safety regulations. Proof of said approval will be required to register your vehicle.

  • You might not need approval for a vehicle that was first registered or manufactured more than 10 years ago. Review the UK’s exemptions.
  • Please contact the DVLA to ensure your vehicle meets all requirements.
  • Please visit gov.uk for more information on the import approval process and to download the required forms.

UK Vehicle Registration

All vehicles brought into the UK permanently must be registered. You cannot register before you do all of the following:

Your vehicle will also be taxed once registered with DVLA with a £55 fee. DVLA might ask to inspect the vehicle. It can take up to 6 weeks for your registration certificate (V5C) to arrive. You need the V5C to get number plates made. Please visit the Gov.uk website for more information on how to register your vehicle and download the required forms.

Ports Serviced in the US and UK

  • USA Departure Ports — Trans Global has service from all U.S. Ports, including: New York, Baltimore, Charleston, Savannah, Jacksonville, Galveston, Los Angeles, and more.
  • UK Arrival Ports — Below are the most popular UK entry ports. From any of the below destination ports, your car can be delivered to your door anywhere in the UK.
    • Southampton
    • Felixstowe
    • Liverpool
    • London Gateway
    • Dublin
    • Belfast
    • Aberdeen

Vehicle Transport Options for Shipping Your Car from the US to the UK

Trans Global offers several international shipping methods to our customers.

Which option will work best for your needs will be determined by several factors, including where the vehicle is located in the USA, where in the UK you want it shipped to, how quickly you need your vehicle in the UK, the age and value of the vehicle, and cost.

1. Roll On Roll Off (RORO) — These vessels are basically large parking garages on the water. Your vehicle is driven into the belly of the ship via a large ramp and secured to the deck, protected from the outside elements.

PROS:

  • RORO offers very competitive rates
  • RORO sometimes has a quicker transit time than container

CONS:

  • Vehicles must be in good running condition. This is not always the case with classic cars which is why we suggest classic cars ship in containers.
  • You are not allowed to store any items in the vehicles. Anything found in the vehicles is disposed of by the receiving terminal.
  • Limited Port Calls which means there is only RORO Service to Southampton and Liverpool. If you need your vehicle to ship to Northern UK then container would be the only option.

2. Shared Container Shipping — Your vehicle is shipped with other vehicles in a shared container. All fees are shared between customers using the container, such as terminal handling charges, loading / unloading charges, and trucking of the container to and from the terminals.

PROS:

  • Poor running or non-running vehicles must be shipped in containers
  • You can store items in the vehicle
  • Container vessels call many more UK ports than RORO

CONS:

  • Transit time can be a bit longer than RORO since the container can only depart once it has a full load

3. Dedicated Container Shipping — This is similar to the Shared Container method except that your vehicle is the only one in the container. This is typically used if the customer needs the vehicle in a hurry or if it’s shipping to a location that we do not offer container consolidations to.

PROS:

  • One of the quickest services other than air freight
  • You can store items in the vehicle
  • Container vessels call many more UK ports than RORO

CONS:

  • More expensive than RORO and Shared Container Shipping

4. Air Freight — One of the most expensive and least used shipping methods. Typically used for high-end collector vehicles or time sensitive shipments

PROS:

  • The quickest service available

CONS

  • The most expensive service available

Preparing Your Car for Shipping from USA to UK

Prior to shipping your vehicle to the UK, it’s important that you perform the following steps to avoid additional fees or being turned away by the terminals.

  • Clean your vehicle inside and out, including its undercarriage
    • Vehicle must be clean of foreign soil, invasive plants, and animals
  • Make sure there is less than a quarter tank of fuel
  • Remove all Non-Factory installed items (applies for RORO shipments only)
  • Remove license plates
  • Disengage any after-market alarm system prior to shipment

Additional Services

Prior to shipping your vehicle to the UK, it’s important that you perform the following steps to avoid additional fees or being turned away by the terminals.

  • Inland Transport within the USA and UK – Trans Global arranges road transport anywhere in the USA to the terminal and also to any city within the UK.
  • Marine Insurance – Per the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (COGSA) liability is limited to per shipment. Marine Insurance is strongly recommended by Trans Global to ensure your vehicle is covered for any damages or loss. All shipping quotes given by Trans Global will list the cost of this optional service.
  • 3rd party vehicle purchase inspections – For those looking to purchase a vehicle online from the USA and want piece of mind knowing the vehicle is as advertised.
  • Escrow Service – For those customers that don’t feel comfortable sending funds directly to a USA online seller or when a seller isn’t comfortable providing their banking details to someone overseas, we offer this service to act as a liaison between the buyer and the seller.
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