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02 Aug 2021
Adam Aiken Adam Aiken

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

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 Close up of a wing mirror on a classic car

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.

 

What you need to be aware of when driving a left-hand-drive car

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

The USA is one of the top exporters of cars, so the chances are that if it’s left-hand-drive it might well be from the US.

American cars tend to be big and they aren’t always fit-for-purpose for UK roads. You might also encounter difficulty in car parks – especially underground car parks where there’s less clearance.

Your road positioning will be different. When you first start driving your left-hand-drive car, take it easy and learn your new road position.

Consider taking the car out when the roads are quiet to get some practice.

In particular, take extra special care when overtaking. You’re on the other side of the car and in a vehicle designed for countries where they drive on the right.

So, you have much less visibility and face much greater danger pulling out into the oncoming lane.

Also, be sure to keep an eye on the speedometer. Depending on where the car is from, it could be in kilometres per hour instead of miles per hour.

This makes it easier to accidentally speed or drive too slowly.

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

A simple kit that usually costs a few pounds should suffice – it’ll involve just putting a couple of stickers on your headlights.

Check prices for headlight converters on Amazon

Do I need to pay import tax?

Import tax is paid on goods sent from outside the UK. To find out how much you’ll need to pay if you’ve imported your car, you’ll need to call the HMRC helpline.

If your imported car hasn’t been registered in the UK before, you’ll 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.

 

Do I need specific insurance for left-hand-drive cars?

No, you don’t need a special policy – you can take out a standard car insurance policy.

It’s just one of the factors that your insurer will take into account when calculating your premiums.

Because you need to give your registration number to get a quote, your insurer should be aware 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.

Compare car insurance quotes

 

Do left-hand-drive cars cost more to insure?

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

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.

You might also need to find a specialist to carry out the repairs as not all garages will be equipped to repair imported cars.

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

 

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

You’ll need a certificate of motor insurance, as with any other car.

But if you’re importing your left-hand-drive car, you’ll need individual vehicle approval, which isn’t cheap.

Don’t forget any relevant no-claims bonus (NCB) documents, assuming this won’t be a second car. If it is a second car, your no-claims bonus would most likely start at zero.

You could call your insurer to discuss your NCB with them beforehand, though.

There's a chance they could mirror your existing NCB, or transfer it from another car to your left-hand-drive. That’s down to their discretion, though.

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