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My wife and I are moving to the UK from Poland. We have a Polish car and we learned that we cannot drive the car if we're moving to the UK (makes us UK residents). We are not planning to use the Polish car in the UK due to left-hand drive.

Can we buy a UK-registered car in Poland and drive it to the UK. Will it be a problem at customs if the papers are not in my name?

I am open to suggestions. Thank you all for your time.

  • It is legal to use a left hand drive car in the UK, and you can register the car after you arrive. – user16259 Oct 29 '17 at 5:48
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    If you want to move to the UK with a car, then use your Polish car for the move and the first few months (your residential status is fine then), then drive back, sell it in Poland, fly to the UK and buy a new one. But it is probably much simpler to use a removal company to move your stuff to the UK, and use public transport to get there initially. You can buy a car there afterwards – SztupY Oct 29 '17 at 22:40
  • Perhaps someone can confirm: I suspect that you won't be able to do the paperwork for transfer of ownership without a UK address. On the other hand, you should be able to drive the Polish car in the UK for a short time. (Here in Spain you can drive a foreign-registered car for 6 months before you have to re-register it with Spanish plates). – Peter Taylor Oct 30 '17 at 22:51
  • @PeterTaylor you should be able to do the paperwork via post, so that's not a problem. But you already need an address for the DVLA to send the documents to. – SztupY Nov 1 '17 at 11:13
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While it's true that legally if you move to the UK, you are not able to drive a non-UK car there, in practice this is not enforced (for people who just moved to the UK - for long term residents it's different and there were some crackdowns on non-UK registered cars that were parked for a long time in the same place in some areas), and it would be really hard to do so anyway, as in the UK there are no residency cards. (The drivers licence acts somewhat as residency card as it shows your address, but you probably don't have a UK one yet). You can read more about it here. So for the first 2-3 months I wouldn't worry, just make sure you can provide your ferry/tunnel ticket that shows when you entered the country.

However after the few months you have to register your car, and you can only do it if you modify it to UK standards. While the position of the wheel is not a problem (people like to import and drive US cars as well, which are LHD as well), you will need to replace the headlights to dim to the left side, and the speedometer to show the speed in miles and not km/h. Also because it will still be a LHD car, it'll be a bit inconvenient to drive it around in the UK, and also the insurance costs will be higher. Selling it will be problematic as well, as most people don't buy LHD cars in the UK. If you want some money out of it you probably need to drive it back to Poland to sell it there and then get back to the UK using other modes of transport.

You might be able to buy a UK registered car abroad, however you need to find a seller - probably someone who just moved back from the UK to Poland. As all paperwork you have to do can be done via post or online, it should be possible for you to do so. However you already need an address in the UK for this to work, as both the insurance companies and DVLA will send you the documents (the V5C certificate) to that address. Also legally you won't be able to drive your car outside the UK without the V5C certificate as well, so someone will need to send them back to Poland to you - I'm not sure if the copy of the V5C the seller gives you would be enough.

If you can't find a seller, or you won't have an address and someone to send back your documents until you move out, then the best thing to do is to hire a moving company to help you with the transport and use public transport (train, coach or plane) to get to the UK. If you are really inclined to drive there you might be able to hire a car from one of the international companies for one-way as well, but the one-way return cost for the hire car would be quite prohibitive (£1000 or more) as well.

  • thank you so much for your detailed answer. You had thought every aspect. I am selling the damn car here :) it will be too much of a trouble to me later. And probably I am not going to purchase a car in the near future :) – Only Orseeny Nov 2 '17 at 12:18
  • Insurance cost is not higher for imports. Many companies will refuse you, but the ones that accept you will give you the same price. – Diego Sánchez Nov 6 '17 at 22:49
  • When I checked a few years ago, I tried to calculate a price with and without setting the left-hand drive option on some of the comparison websites, and the price was different. It might have changed since then though. – SztupY Nov 6 '17 at 22:51

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