I am looking into buying a used car from a dealer here in the UK. I read several guides, but I still have some questions to which the answer might be different from my home country:

  1. I saw that most dealers already have a test drive insurance for their cars. Do I need proof they have it, or just a "the vehicles are insured for the test drive, right?" should suffice?

  2. Is it acceptable to have the car from a dealer inspected by your mechanic prior to the purchase? Does it mean that I can generally take the car to my mechanic or my mechanic has to perform the inspection at the dealership?

  3. Some of the cars I checked the registration with the DVLA are considered "Untaxed". Is it possible to test drive an untaxed car provided its MOT is up to date?

  4. Do dealers restrict test drives to people holding a UK-issued driving licence?

  • I voted to close this as off-topic as it is not a question regarding expats. Someone from the UK who had never bought a used car would have exactly the same questions
    – Scott Earle
    Jul 8 '20 at 14:50
  • @ScottEarle I agree as to the OP's first three points, but the fourth is a reasonable question for Expats. Jul 8 '20 at 21:57

Q1 I would expect the dealer to provide you with a copy of the loan/demonstration insurance agreement. This will include eg your declaration of eligibility for the insurance such as age, valid (UK) driving licence applicable to the vehicle, penalty points/driving offence convictions etc, and the conditions of the loan eg excess payable in the event of an accident during the test drive, limit on time/mileage etc

Q2 You will have to get permission from the dealer for a vehicle inspection. Where the inspection is done will likely depend on the individual dealer’s T&C and those of the individual / company carrying out the inspection eg the AA https://www.theaa.com/vehicle-inspection

Q3 A dealer can use trade plates for such purposes https://www.nfda-uk.co.uk/press-room/newsletter/2019/7/dvla-trade-licence-plates-and-who-can-use-them

Q4 Assuming your current licence allows you to drive in the UK https://www.gov.uk/driving-nongb-licence/y and is valid for the vehicle you want to test drive, the answer may depend on the dealers. I checked a couple of dealership websites and found a mix of those that restrict test drives to UK or UK and EU driving licences and some that don’t obviously state the requirement. I think you’d need to contact the dealer(s) you’re considering buying a car from to find out their specific T&C.


I did three test drives this weekend, and while answers 1, 2 and 3 stay as answered by Traveller, I would like to add some information to answer 4.

Q4 - The big problem with non-UK driving licences is with the dealer's insurance.
One dealership accepted my EU licence without a problem. I drove alone due to Covid-19 restrictions and nobody followed me.
The second dealership accepted my test drive with the sales person inside the car, since the excess was set at 5000 GBP by the insurance company.
The third dealership insurer didn't accept my licence and I could not do the test drive. Apparently, they would be able to accept with the sales person inside the car, but their sanitary restrictions forbid it.

I would strongly recommend that, should you not have a full UK driving licence, to book the test drive in advance and ask if they accept your driving licence.
It is not guaranteed though, since the third dealership told me on the phone it would work, and when I went there, no test drive.

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