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Can I drive a left-hand drive car in the UK?

If you're importing a car from the United States or a European country it is usually left-hand drive (LHD). Or you might be moving to the UK from abroad and bringing your car with you.

Whether you’ve bought or are buying a left hand drive car  and want to know what your next steps are, we've got you covered.

From registering a left hand drive car in the UK, through to insuring and driving it, this is what you need to know.

A driver behind the wheel of their left hand drive car in the UK


Can I drive a left hand drive car in the UK?

Even though the vast majority of cars in the UK are right hand drive, It’s entirely legal to drive a left hand drive car in the UK. 

However, you do need to register a left hand drive car in the UK, and then arrange insurance and ensure you’ve got all the necessary paperwork, such as your V5C

If you’ve imported the car you need to:

  • Register it with the DVLA
  • Register it with HMRC 
  • Get vehicle approval to drive it in the UK

What car insurance do I need for left hand drive cars?

Drivers of left hand drive cars don’t need to take out a specialist insurance policy. You only need a standard car insurance policy.

The fact that it’s left hand drive is just one of the many factors that your insurer should take into account when working out your costs.

Because you need to give your registration number to get a quote, your insurer should be able to see that it’s a left hand drive.

Having said that, there are insurance companies who specialise in left hand drives and other less common cars.

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Are left hand drive cars more expensive to insure? 

You’re likely to find that car insurance for a left hand drive car could be more expensive, especially if it’s imported.

Imported cars are often seen as more desirable and might be more appealing to thieves.

If you have an accident, it could be trickier to fix. Parts might be harder to find and might need to be imported too.

It’s also likely that you need to find a specialist to carry out the repairs as not all garages are equipped to repair imported cars.

If you're concerned about the cost of your insurance, check out our top tips on reducing your car insurance premium.


Do I need to pay import tax on a left hand drive car?

Import tax is paid on goods sent from outside the UK. You need to inform HMRC that you’ve imported a vehicle and it should tell you how much tax and duty you need to pay.

If your imported car hasn’t been registered in the UK before, you need individual vehicle approval, which involves having your car inspected.

The exception to this is if your vehicle was first registered or manufactured more than 10 years ago. If that’s the case, you might not need it, but it's worth checking.


Left hand drive car documents: what do I need? 

  • A certificate of motor insurance.
  • Any no claims bonus documents.
  • Approval for driving your vehicle in the UK. If it’s been imported from the EU you need a European Certificate of Conformity and a Mutual Recognition certificate. Vehicles that have been imported from outside the EU need Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA).
  • If you’ve imported the vehicle yourself you also need to register it with HMRC and the DVLA.

What should I know when driving a left hand drive car in the UK?

When you’re driving a left hand drive car, there are a few considerations you need to make.

This is because these cars aren’t designed to drive on the left hand side of the road.

  • Overtaking - You’re likely to have a more limited view of the road in a left hand drive car. When you’re overtaking, keep a safe distance from the car in front of you to give you a better view of the road ahead.
  • Headlamps - Your headlamps could dazzle other drivers. You can adapt them cheaply with sticker kits. Fail to do this and you may get a fine.
  • Speed in mph - The speedometer in an imported car is likely to be in kilometers per hour, so make sure you know the miles per hour equivalents. As a guide, 60 mph is roughly 97 km/h.
  • Lane control - Be aware that it takes time to adjust to a left hand drive and you need to take care not to drift out of your lane.
  • Drive thrus - Don’t forget that ticket machines and drive thru booths are designed for right hand drive cars. This could be frustrating if you don’t have a passenger in the car with you.
  • Practice somewhere quiet - Take the time to get used to driving your left hand car and practice on quiet roads before you hit rush hour traffic or take on a long journey.

If you’re considering importing an American car you might want to check its size carefully.

Cars from the USA are often a lot larger than UK models and you might struggle with clearance in underground or multi-storey car parks. 


How can I buy a left hand drive in the UK?

Many drivers of left hand drive cars buy them overseas and import them into the UK.

It’s often about getting the car they want rather than specifically choosing one that’s a left hand drive.

However, if you’re specifically after a left hand drive car in the UK, you could consult a specialist left hand drive dealership.