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15 Sep 2020
Georgina Kent Georgina Kent

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

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Everything you need to know about left-hand-drive cars and insurance, with a little bit on imports too.

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You’ve bought, or are buying, a left-hand-drive (LHD) car and want to know what your next steps are. We’ve got you covered, read on to find out what you need to know.

 
 

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Considerations: What you need to be aware of when driving a LHD car

When you’re driving a left-hand-drive car, there are a few considerations you need to make. America is one of the top exporters of cars, so chances are if it’s LHD, it might well be from the States.

American cars tend to be big, and aren’t always fit-for-purpose for UK roads. You might also encounter difficulty parking in car parks. Especially underground car parks which have little clearance.

Your road positioning will be different. When you first start driving your LHD car, take it easy and learn your new road position. Consider taking the car out when the roads are quiet to get some practice.

Also, be sure to keep an eye on the speedo. It could be in kilometres (KPH) and not miles (MPH), making it very easy to accidentally speed, or be driving too slowly.

Make sure to adjust your headlamps too. This is simple and inexpensive to do, but must be done so you don’t dazzle other road users.

A simple kit that’s usually less than a tenner should suffice, it’ll just be a couple stickers to place on your headlamps.

Check prices on Amazon for headlight converters


Do I need specific insurance for left hand drive cars?

Nope, you don’t need anything different or special. As you have to put your registration number in to get a quote, your insurer will be aware of whether your car is left or right-hand-drive.

The amount you're quoted to pay for your car insurance will reflect that.

That being said, we do have providers on our panel who specialise in LHD cars and other less common cars.


Is there a difference between left and right hand drive car insurance?

No, it’s the same insurance policy. It’s just another risk factor for your provider to take into consideration.

You are likely to find that insurance for a LHD car, especially if it’s imported, is more expensive.

For one, imported cars are often seen as more desirable, like your Corvettes and Dodge Vipers. You might find they’re more appealing to thieves.

Also, should your car be in an accident, it could be trickier to fix. Parts may need to be imported and may be more expensive.

They may also need a specialist to repair them, as not all garages will be equipped to repair an imported car. 

READ MORE: How car insurance is calculated


Do I need different documents for a left hand drive car?

Yes and no.

You’ll still need a certificate of motor insurance, that doesn’t change. But if you’re importing your LHD car, you’ll need to see individual vehicle approval (IVA), which isn’t cheap.

You’ll also need any relevant no-claims bonus documents – assuming this won’t be a second car.

If it is a second car, your no-claims bonus (NCB) will most likely start at zero.

You could call your insurer to discuss your NCB with them. There's a chance they could mirror your existing NCB, or transfer it from another car to your LHD one. That’s down to their discretion though.

 

If you’ve imported your car, you’ll need to be aware of import tax

As it stands, import tax is paid on all goods being sent from outside the EU and special territories. It applies to goods worth over £15 and gifts over £39.

The charge is on the VAT rate for your goods. If you’re importing a car, that will fall into a different rating band as it’s of a high value (more than £135).

To find out how much you’ll need to pay, you’ll need to call the HMRC helpline.

If your imported car hasn’t been registered in the UK before, you’ll need to seek an individual vehicle approval.

It’ll involve having your car inspected, and will cost a couple hundred pounds. 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 check with GOV.UK first.

READ MORE: Car insurance for imported motors

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