Clear Customs

Buying/Importing a car from Jersey, Guernsey (CI)

If you are looking at buying a car or other vehicle from one of the Channel Islands, then don't be put off because it will need to be declared to Customs, before you can register it with the DVLA.

The most important thing to note, is that you will have to pay VAT on the purchase price (the UK's Standard rate of VAT is currently 20.0%).

Before we briefly explain the process, we will answer the following frequently asked question:

  • Q. When do I need to instruct UK Import Services to start the Customs process? Is it before the vehicle arrives into the UK or after the vehicle arrives at a UK address?
  • A. As far as we understand it, you are able to drive a privately-owned vehicle from to the UK, without any problems with Customs/Border-crossing en route, or upon arrival into the UK (providing the vehicle complies with each Countries road regulations, and that you had adequate insurance).

    The only time you need Customs involvement is for registering the vehicle on the UK roads (with the DVLA). It is then at this point, that we can assist you in declaring your vehicle to UK Customs and pay any duty and/or VAT due.


    Note:

    If your vehicle is coming in from another EU member Country, there should be no need to declare it to UK Customs (and usually no VAT to pay), therefore you would not need the services of a Customs broker, like ourselves.

    If this applies to you, then please contact the following departments, who should be able to confirm that this is the case:

  • HMRC – Personal Transport Unit (T) 03000 583 020
  • DVLA – Vehicle Enquiries (T) 0300 790 6802
  • If, after speaking to these departments, they advise that there is VAT to pay, then please come back to us and we can then assist you further.


    Importing a vehicle from Outside of the EU, such as Norway or Switzerland

    If you are looking to import a vehicle from outside the EU, then discuss your plans with a member of our team, to see if you are eligible for relief, to reduce or avoid paying any duty and/or VAT.


    So, here is quick summary of the process when a vehicle needs to be declared to UK Customs and VAT needs to be paid on it:

    (needless to say that this process will be after us sending you our charges, you agreeing to them and sending us any related documents, and we set you up with an account on our internal computer system)

    01. We declare your vehicle to HMRC (accompanied with your copy documents)
    02. Once processed and accepted, HMRC will confirm how much VAT there is to pay
    03. We will invoice you for payment of the duty and VAT plus our charges
    04. Once you transfer the funds to our account, we will arrange payment to HMRC
    05. Once released, we will send you a stamped released

    The whole Customs clearance (paying the VAT) process usually takes around 7-10 working days, depending on the volume of work that the specific Customs team, which deals with these, has.

    Once this part is done, you can then look at the actual process of registering the vehicle with the DVLA. This is where there are 2 different processes:

    01. If you are a VAT-registered trader:
    When we send you our email with the Stamped release note, we will also send you the details that you will need to declare the vehicle on the HMRC Online Service website (this is the HMRC website where your Company submits its VAT returns). This will link to and then declare the vehicle on the DVLA NOVA system (Notification Of Vehicle Arrival).

    Once Customs provide us with the Stamped Release Note, you should be posted your C79 VAT Certificate from Customs which you should use to reclaim the VAT.

    02. If you are not a VAT-registered trader:
    Once we have cleared your vehicle through UK Customs, they [UK Customs] will automatically post you a letter confirming that any necessary duties and taxes have been paid, and that the vehicle has been input on to the HMRC/DVLA NOVA system.

    This is the point at which our involvement ends. So, after this, we are not 100% sure what the exact process is, but we guess that you then get an MOT/IVA certificate with which you can register this with the DVLA.


    Having helped lots of importers, both Commercial and Private, clear their vehicles through UK Customs, we don’t believe that the process should be difficult.


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