It is perfectly legal to drive a left-hand drive (LHD) car in the UK, but whether you're permanently importing a new vehicle to the country or bringing your existing car from Europe on a holiday or a business trip, there are a number of important things to consider.
Before choosing your left-hand drive (LHD) car, you need to think about insurance. If you are importing an LHD car to the UK you need to make sure that you have a left-hand drive insurance policy in place. If you are bringing your car from Europe you should check with your current European insurer to find out if you are covered to drive in Britain. If not, it’s worth considering a temporary car insurance policy for the duration of your stay.
Import tax and registration
If you are buying a car from Europe and bringing it to the UK you may have to pay import tax, so remember to factor this expense into your calculation. Tax must be paid on any car that is under six months old and has clocked fewer than 6,000 kilometres (3,750 miles). You'll also need to register the vehicle in the UK if you intend to keep it here permanently. You can find the government's guidelines and relevant forms for importing cars on the Gov.uk website.
It is a legal requirement to fit headlamp adapters to LHD cars when driving in the UK. This is because the beams of LHD headlamps dazzle oncoming drivers when driving on the left. Headlamp beam adapters are available from most car retailers and are easy to fit. Failure to properly adapt your headlamps may result in a fine and can invalidate your insurance.
Driving on the left
The most obvious difference between driving in the UK and driving in Europe is the side of the road on which you drive. If you are a European resident visiting the UK, you may not be used to driving on the left, so it is crucial that you take time to acquaint yourself with British roads and driving laws. Old habits die hard, so you must always concentrate to avoid drifting over to the right-hand side.
Position on the road
When driving an LHD car on the left, you will find yourself surprisingly close to the kerb. Instinct will tell you to drift towards the centre of the road, as this is where you are used to sitting - but this will of course mean that your car is partially obstructing oncoming traffic. It is important to take the time to get used to the alternative position and resist the temptation to “centre” yourself on the road.
Watch your speed
LHD car speed dials are usually in kilometres as standard, but speed is measured in miles per hour in the UK, so you need to careful you don’t drive too fast.
Overtaking in an LHD car is particularly risky because you can’t see oncoming traffic as clearly as you could in an RHD car. It is recommended that you keep your distance from the vehicle in front in case you are unable to overtake and need to return to your lane, and make good use of your mirrors at all times.
In general, pay attention. You must always concentrate when driving any type of car in any country, but when driving an LHD car in the UK there are even more things to keep in mind – so stay alert and stay safe.
This guide has been provided by LHD Car Supermarket, the left-hand drive car specialist.