I live in the UK but travel back to Poland every 8~14 months. Also my car is left--hand drive instead of right-hand as in UK.

This means that I do not have to MOT (Motor Inspection) or tax my car in the UK because I do this in Poland. Am I breaking any laws in the UK for having my car registered in Poland but using it for daily work and leisure commute in UK for an extended period of time?

4 Answers 4


If you are a resident in the UK (which for this purpose includes if you just moved there with the intent of working and living in the UK), you cannot drive a non-UK car in the UK. Since there are no residency cards in the UK, whenever you are stopped by a police officer and he thinks you are actually a resident (for example if you have a UK driving licence, or have UK debit cards in your wallet), then he might confiscate your car which might be destroyed, unless you can prove you are not a UK resident, or you are working in more than one EU countries, and spend more than 6 months (185 days) per year outside of the UK.

If you are not a resident, then you can drive the car for at most 6 months (per year), but your car does need to have valid MOT and Insurance from the originating country, which you have to prove to the officer in case it's needed. You also have to prove to him that you are not driving the car for more than 6 months (for example if you show him the ferry / tunnel ticket). Every day your car is in the country counts, so if you leave the country, but the car is still there, it's still counts towards the 6 months (as your ferry/tunnel ticket is still showing the date). Exiting and re-entering the country won't reset the 6 months (although you will have a fresher ferry/tunnel ticket, so it becomes easier to prove you just arrived to the country)

There are only three possible options for a UK resident to drive a non-UK car completely legally:

  1. If the car is not yours, the registered owner is not a UK resident, and he is sitting with you in the car (in this case he is considered to be the driver)
  2. If the car belongs to (or to be more precise is registered in the name of) an EU based company, and you are working for that company.
  3. If the car is on a lease in an other country (for example it's a car hired from France)

The second point is regulated by common EU rules on using non-local, but EU-registered cars abroad. Note that these EU rules also allow students, who are enrolled in UK and are only studying in UK for a set period to use their non-UK car. This is because they can be considered as non-residents.

Note: the above does mean, that if you are a UK resident, and want to import your non-UK car, you cannot drive it even to get it's MOT and registration, you have to tow it around, or ask someone who can legally drive it (e.g. a non-UK resident). From the government's site:

DVLA advises you to transport your vehicle from the port, rather than driving it.


Importing vehicles into the UK (gov.uk)


Driving with a foreign registration number

UK residents aren’t allowed to use non-UK registered vehicles on UK roads. The only exceptions are if you:

  • work in another European Union (EU) member state and use an EU-registered company car temporarily in the UK
  • lease an EU-registered car and use this temporarily in the UK

You can usually use a vehicle displaying non-UK number plates, and not have to tax or register it in the UK, if:

  • you’re visiting the UK and don’t plan to live here
  • you only use the vehicle up to 6 months in a 12-month period (1 single visit, or several shorter visits adding up to a 6-month period)
  • the vehicle is registered and taxed in its home country

If you’re stopped by the police

If your car has non-UK number plates and you’re stopped by police, you must show you can use the vehicle in the UK without taxing and registering it here.

You may have to show proof of the length of time you’ve been in the UK (eg a ferry ticket) or evidence that you and the vehicle are eligible for customs relief.

  • 2
    Is there any reference you can provide for further reading about this? Or how do you back your answer with a fact? Basically if I own a car in Poland and come back to UK with my family, they can crush it because i'm a UK resident?
    – Piotr Kula
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 22:11
  • 2
    @ppumkin: read the gov.uk site about this. I added a link to my answer. Basically, if you are a UK resident, you cannot legally drive the car. It's not that hard to fake a non-UK residency (especially if you move a lot between countries, you might not be considered as a UK resident anyway), but if you get caught, and cannot prove you are not a UK resident (like with showing your Polish residency card), and that the car is not there for more than 6 months, then DVLA can take your car away, as it will then be considered untaxed and uninsured.
    – SztupY
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 22:23
  • 1
    Does it mean, that UK citizen, that bought a car outside UK, isn't allowed to drive into UK with it, before registrating it?
    – user41
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 22:38
  • 3
    @Łukasz웃Lツ: yes. You can drive it until the border of the country (like Dover), but you have to use a trailer from there to tow it to the point where you can get the MOT for it (as it's needed for registration), or you have to ask someone who is legally entitled to drive the car to actually drive it for you around. On the linked gov.uk site there is actually a note saying "DVLA advises you to transport your vehicle from the port, rather than driving it."
    – SztupY
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 22:42
  • 1
    @Gala: I found this page, where it tells about students, so I have edited that part out
    – SztupY
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 11:06

Sounds like the world has gone mad to me, I drive in and out of the uk when I like, I have a LEGAL French Registered vehicle which is insured and MOT'd in France every 2yrs as per their regulations, my French Insurer allows me to drive into ANY EU Country for up to 365days a year, why, becasue we are in Europe, open frontiers and all that. I am not a French National as I only spend 6mths in France and 6mths in the UK.

When I come to the UK I make sure my MOT &/ Insurance is ok until I arrive back in France, my name is not pierre and my plate is still a UK one, as it is now registered in France, Yes I found it a little strange they did not give me a new Reg Plate, I never drive above 70mph and rarely go out at night, only look I have ever had was Customs & Excise who thought my number plate amusing.

But here the Gestapo want to exert there own take on what is legal and not legal, this harks back to having an early Sat Nav where the Gestapo were pulling cars over and confiscating them or telling the driver they would be arrested, but never telling them what for!!!

I am 61 yrs old and have seen and heard this total bullshit all my life, but this is a fact, open borders exist in Europe, I do not enter Germany to be pulled over and told I need German Insurance and a German MOT or not to stay for longer than a month or two, when I drive into Italy, the same is true there, but when I cross some water all of a sudden things alter, why? what has changed here.

Bottom line, if you have your car and can prove it has insurance for the Country you are in and a valid MOT aquired from any EU Country then that car is legal to drive in the UK

I suppose you are all aware that as of 2014 (correct me if I wrong here) but the EU now allows for all traffic tickets to follow the registered owner to the place of vehicle registration.

This should put an end to the Gestapo feeling they have to make it up as they go along. Have a good one, be carefull out there.

  • 1
    Insightful and humorous :) driving around Europe is ok. The problem is how long can you stay in that country. I know Polish people who did a day trip to exit UK and renter the next day, every 6 months to have a new entry ticket. Maybe that is a Polish insurance restriction , maybe UK. But it's true that it's all bull crap. But hey. That's politics.
    – Piotr Kula
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 18:27
  • Yes, we are in Europe, but not having a car which is registered in the country you are living in can lead to all sorts of trouble. Try for example this: you live in UK, but have a Romanian car with a Romanian insurance. This insurance is so much cheaper than in other countries and there's a reason for that. If such a car, which you say should be legal to drive as long as you want in UK, damages another car and the regular UK citizen tries to use the foreign insurance to cover the damage there's no guarantee on the delay and the amount of payment he'll be able to receive... Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 9:05

Mr Spence is actually wrong, your car must be registered in the country you live in. To claim that to have a car in France is legally on UK plates despite being french registered is bull. He has, one assumes, a french carte grise (equivalent to our V5 log book) on which he will find his new registation number in the top left hand corner. It should be in the format AB-123-CD. The French authorities DO NOT allow you to keep your old number! It does not match their system. In fact, no country in the world will. It has nothing to do with open borders, it is about being able to trace car owners in the event of an offence or an accident. At the moment foreign police forces do not have official access to the DVLA database so if a UK reg car gets caught on a speed camera in France the authorities cannot send the owner a ticket. This is why so many expats do not bother to register their cars in a new country - all well & good until they are involved in a serious accident. Angry? Oh yes I am! It could be me they run into...


The insurance firms are incredible devious .most insurance companies tell you you have to inform them after 30 days if you continue to use your car in Europe and charge.some on a daily basics the truth is your insurance gets downgraded to third party fire and theft .As regards to how long you stay with the vechicle in one country it is also misleading stated you will have to register your car in that country .but only if you are resident that is the problem . I have been driving a golf r.h.d in Poland for three years .i have the car registered at a uk address and I drive back to the uk every year to m.o.t the vechicle. (Make sure you m.o.t the vechicle in the summer because it will be a nightmare driving over the polish/ German border. The prices for a second hand car in Poland is incredible high many imported and many I suspect accident and cut and shut .

  • The question was about EU cars in the UK and not the other way around
    – SztupY
    Commented May 25, 2014 at 10:36
  • Thanks. It is still relevant to me since I also go to Poland often.
    – Piotr Kula
    Commented May 26, 2014 at 8:24

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.