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Going back to the UK - with your car


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Why does everyone assume that we are all trying to break the law and 'try it on' ??!!

I have an old van which I wanted to bring to France and then register it here. I got an export certificate and all the paperwork for the certificate of conformity etc.

I then changed my mind and decided I would rather take it back to the UK to sell it. It still has UK plates (as I hadn't registered it here). It obviously does not have a UK MOT.

All I'm asking is for some advice?

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Thanks Gay.

The only way I can see round this guys problem is to get insurance from a UK company and give a UK address, for instance a fellow member of the family. Look on yell.co.uk for a garage at the port of entry and book a MOT for within a couple fo hours of arriving and ask them to FAX a letter on headed paper confirming the appoinment. When they are stopped on entry explain the situation (about exporting and changing your mind) and show them the cover note and letter, better still get somebody to send the a form for getting car tax (from the Post Office) and complete it and have that with you as well. You may have to pay the back tax at the prot of entry so have a UK cheque book with you or credit/debit card.

I am sure that with all this and putting over in a honest fashion what you are doing, plus when you show them the letter from the garage for the MOT ask for directions then you appear more honest and don' answer them back there is a chance that you might be OK. I did this with my Disco, it had no MOT (it was due for it's first one) but it did have a valid tax disk and UK insurance and I went straight to the garage for the MOT and had no problems. Thats not to say it would work again for me or anybody else. As in all things it depends on the day, the customs guy etc, etc.

Of course once you get the car/van to whoever is selling it you can cancel the insurance and reclaim the tax and return to France. I still think you would be on dodgy ground but it's worth a try. What you have to weigh up is the cost of doing this, the ferry costs and your time against the value of the car/van. Good luck.

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Now I'm confused...

If this chap's vehicle.....  ok, ok, lets make it hypothetical.


If one has taken a vehicle to France, informed the DVLA of its new permanent French address and received an export certificate for it, organised valid french insurance, and had the vehicle CT'd, then I fail to see what juristiction the UK authorities would have over it: it ISN'T a UK registered vehicle anymore, (a check of the plate with the DVLA computer would show it as exported) so - unless they are operating on behalf of the French authorities - what would be the grounds for their impounding a foreign vehicle?


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My god

Right, your moving to France, your intending to live their forever, then buy a French car, expensive, tough

In the back of your mind your not sure if its forever, take it over, insure it, tax runs out, register in a usable UK address, sign a SORN, get a CT, sorted, until your insurance say something (they havn't with me) if they do, go with another insurance, I know people who have been here 3 years with a UK car, often buying another UK car

If it works it works if not get a french one, not the end of the world, you'll save it on diesel and no road tax

So there


ps if in doubt do what the initial poster has put

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what would be the grounds for their impounding a foreign vehicle?

But thats the point it is a stateless vehicle, which has already been notified as exported from the UK, but which would seen  travelling on its old void plates. So it would look as though something odd had been going on........ Sufficient grounds to detain the suspect vehicle methinks!

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[quote]Now I'm confused... If this chap's vehicle..... ok, ok, lets make it hypothetical. If one has taken a vehicle to France, informed the DVLA of its new permanent French address and received an exp...[/quote]

To stop all the messing about in the UK about "tax in the post" and "I have had it parked in my back yard since the tax ran out" the UK did two things.

1) All cars had ti be re-registered so they had a data base of registered cars.

2 All cars have to be either taxed or SORN'd.  Failure to do so  results in an automatic £80 fine. 

Good points G P but, if it has been exported but is still on on UK plates, you ask what jurisdiction the UK authorities would have over it.  Well the UK would be interested in its status as it happens to be in the UK, where all UK plated cars have to be registered, taxed and insured.  The Police can check all this on the computer now  What they would find is that the car is not on the DVLA data base and so in these times of high security would raise suspicion, but if the records show that the car was exported........

 on to your next point   You say "it ISN'T a UK registered vehicle anymore"   True, but its not registered in France either, so in fact the car is not registered anywhere, so therefore it is illegal and they would impound it

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It's the plates.

If it's exported to France then it will be on French plates as it has a Carte Gris. If it still carries a UK number plate then it's not registered in France, it's a car with no country. I think you will find that there are laws in every country that makes this sort of thing illegal it's just that within the EU there is no central system to close this loophole but they will arrive in the next few years. When the car arrives in the UK the registration will be shown as being exported. Technically the number can be re-used on another car (within the UK) so there could be two cars with the same number plate. Not only that but as an exported car it's not allowed to carry a UK plate. Having a CT does NOT mean your car is registered in France, it's just like a person taking a French car to get a MOT, theres no problem doing it but it does not mean the car is registered in the UK.

Do the French have a connection with the UK? I think they must do as a recent visitor got a speeding message on the overhead signs on the motorway coming down here that displayed his number plate and his name telling him to slow down. Being a UK reg it even displayed it in English. So one can only assume that the French now have a link in to the DVLC. I understand this is an experimental system and no fines are issued at present by the way. Likewise they can now follow up on speeding tickets issued in France to UK cars and the other way round.

In this guys situation all I sugested was that he threw himself on the mercy of the customs guys when he arrives back in the UK and tell them he made a error of judgement. They might say OK and give him a 'producer' to show that he has done everything required by UK law within the next 14 days. He might be unluck and his plate may have been reissued so he will have to go through the UK registering system and re-register his car.

As others have said, if you intend to live in France why muck about just re-register your car here, many have and it's no big problem or buy a French car. There are times, and this may be one of them, that somebody sets of to do the right thing and events overtake them. It's not that they started of with the intent of doing anything illegal.

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Well, I rang the DVLC explaining my position. They said as long as I was going to a pre-arranged MOT as soon as I got off the ferry, that was okay. Also as long as I brought along all of the paperwork relating to the van/export cert etc (and it was insured) this should be fine.

We'll have to see then won't we?
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We brought our English car to France and decided to register it in France. We filled the export form in for the DVLA, insured it in France and had it CT'd. We then tried to put our private number plate on retention before we applied for the Carte Grise but have been told by the DVLA that to do this we have to import the car back into England, retax and insure it. It still has an MOT. What a mistake!!!!
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[quote]Well, I rang the DVLC explaining my position. They said as long as I was going to a pre-arranged MOT as soon as I got off the ferry, that was okay. Also as long as I brought along all of the paperwork...[/quote]

You know what bureaucracy is like here (in France), ask 5 people and get 5 different answers and the UK is not much different. If you have the time I would ask them for a fax or letter to wave in front of anyone who asks, just to be on the safe side.

Anyway good luck and let us know how you get on as this information would be very useful to others.

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As long as you are driving to a previously arranged MOT test you are legally allowed to drive an unregistered un-taxed car from the port of arrival (or your home if it has been delivered there by shippers) to the MOT garage in UK. You must have insurance which is a bit of a chicken or egg situation as the insurance company want the registration number but an exported car doesn't have a legal number - it should  have been removed.  However, with persuasion they will insure it based on the chassis number of the car.

I imported my car from Japan where it had been de-registered and the number plate removed - I think a Japanese number plate would have caused monumental confusion! - got it insured over the internet and drove to the local dealers who confirmed that it was legal to drive to the MOT garage and from there to the place it was being kept (home). 

THe papers I carried with me  were the de-registration , the ownership documents and insurance internet print out.  I had only made the appointment for the MOT by phone so I made sure I had the number and a name just in case.  But the police car that passed me didn't even notice.

The car could not be used until I had been to the DVLA, submitted the documents, paid the road tax there and got the registration number which the DVLA managed to send me within a week.

Coral - still a few weeks from the ariege


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Just to add to the points made by Coral from my experiences with a kit car.

The MOT will have the Chassis Number where the reg no normally goes (my tester had to make a phone call to verify he could do this). As it needed examining by the local registration office it is legal to drive to and from the inspection. A few police cars passed and took no notice of there being no number plates.

As far the taking it to the MOT test centre, I have seen nothing in the regulation where it states that the centre has to be the nearest etc. Therefore, it would seem that you could come off the ferry at Dover, drive to a prearranged test at a garage in Carlisle and be perfectly legal.

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I would say yes.

The DVLA has been informed that the vehicle has been permanently exported therefore the number plates will no longer be applicable to that vehicle. Therefore, I would think that driving the vehicle with those plates on will constitute driving a vehicle with false plates. In adition, if it is an interesting number then I think the DVLA can sell them for use on another vehicle.

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This is what I got back from the DVLA after emailing them:

Thank you for your email.

On its return to Great Britain an application to register and licence your vehicle must be made as soon as possible at your nearest DVLA Local Office. Their addresses can be found on our web site listed below.

However, applications to register, made at a DVLA Local Office outside your area, will be accepted and then forwarded to the Local Office nearest your home address to be dealt with.

Please note, applications will not be dealt with over the counter.

Keepers who license and register their vehicle(s) using application forms V55/4 or V55/5 will have to produce proof of name and address. A new information leaflet INF148 'Licensing and Registering Your Vehicle Using a V55/4 or a V55/5' has been produced giving details of the identity documents required. If you fail to read this information before submitting your application it may cause a delay in your application being processed.

The following documents will need to be submitted to the Local Office:-

A fully completed application form V55/5;

Appropriate Identity Documentation confirming your name and address;

Either the V561 (UK Certificate of Export), the V5C Registration Certificate, or any documentation you may have relating to the vehicle e.g. foreign log book;

The required fee for the licence (rates of duty available on our website);

A current certificate of insurance issued by a member of the UK Motor Insurance Bureau;

A current British MOT test certificate for:

cars, motorcycles, motor caravans and Light Good Vehicles if more than 3 years old;

passenger carrying vehicles with more than 8 seats and taxis (excluding private hire cars) if more than 1 year old.

A vehicle may be driven unlicensed on a public road if it is going to or coming from a pre-arranged MOT test and the driver is insured for the journey.

On receipt of a completed application, the Local Office will issue a tax disc and forward the papers to DVLA. You will receive a Registration Certificate for the vehicle within about 6 weeks.

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Well there you go not to far off what has been said but also includes extra, very helpful, information. I have taken the liberty (and in doing so acknowledged the author [Le Jars]) of copying this in to the FAQ area of the forum as I believe it will be of great use to others. Many thanks Le Jars.
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  • 3 weeks later...
Well, after booking a ferry from Cherbourg to Portsmouth, I set off with all the necessary paperwork to the ferry port. What happened when I got there and got off the ferry?


No paperwork looked at, no search, no customs people remotely interested, nothing.

Just my experience, but ****** me, you lot had me worried. Maybe it was because I wasn't trying to do anything illegal?
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