FAQ Guides

On this page we have compiled a list of guides that hopefully will provide you with lots of helpful car shipping information. Should you require any further assistance, please feel free to contact us at anytime on 01908 887 917.

Some of our most popular guides are:

BTI Scheme for +30yr imports

HMRC now allow certain vehicles over thirty years old to be entered through customs without paying any duty and just 5% VAT.

This is known as BTI / 9705 entry for Historic Vehicles Import Relief

How do I get import relief for a vehicle over thirty years old?

We can provide you with the appropriate forms to complete to see if HMRC will allow the car to be imported under the BTI scheme, the main factors are if the car is no longer in production, over thirty years old and unmodified from its original form.

Quite often bringing a car into the UK under BTI / 9705 means that the car is released from the port once you have paid your 5% VAT, your application will then be checked by customs and they may still deem that your car is not worthy of import relief and ask you to pay the full import duty and VAT.

For more infomation on the BTI Scheme or car shipping please contact us on 01908 887 917

IVA Light Module?

The clever engineers at ShipMyCar have created a Light Control Unit (LCU) which is a universal control box to safely power the lighting modifications needed for IVA / SVA / MOT testing requirements here in the UK

IVA Light Control Module

IVA Light Control Module

The new control module works in modern canbus powered vehicles and provides safe connection for the additional lights required e.g. Rear Fog Light, Reversing Light, Side Repeater Indicators…

IVA, SVA and MOT requirements in the UK require imported vehicles to have an ‘e’ marked rear fog light, side repeater indicators, and amber indicators which are separate to the brake lights – wiring these incorrectly can damage the cars ECU / Smart Junction Box – a common problem in Camaro’s, Corvettes and Mustangs Shipped to the UK

We strongly advise against carrying out IVA modifications yourself – our engineers are trained in IVA modification requirements on all makes/models of vehicles.

ShipMyCar Smart Control Box

ShipMyCar Smart Control Box

The ShipMyCar LCU incorporates sensitive relays with diode protection and easy to reach fuses to protect the circuits and your vehicle.

Should you require any information on car shipping or the IVA modifications required to ship a car to the UK, please do not hesitate to contact us

How much import duty??

Shipping a car to the UK means you may be liable to pay import VAT and Duty. Import VAT and Duty depends on a number of factors which we will discuss below:

  • Have you owned the car for at least six months outside of the EU?If you have owned the vehicle for at least six months and lived outside of the EU for at least one year (185 consecutive days) and are moving back to the UK permanently, then you will not have to pay any import VAT or duty (which is nice.)In order to prove this we will require proof of US residency from at least one year ago, for example a utility bill, bank / mortgage statement and also proof of vehicle ownership from at least six months ago, for example an insurance certificate or title/registration document
  • Are you importing a car to the UK which was built in the EU, e.g. a Porsche, Bentley, MG, Jaguar, Lotus, Lamborghini, etc?If so you will not have to pay the usual import duty, just £50 and then the usual 20% VAT on top.
  • Was the car you are importing built pre-1950?If so you will not have to pay any import duty and just 5% VAT.
  • Is the vehicle you are importing into the UK over 30 years old?Customs now allow certain cars older than 30 years old into the UK without paying any duty and just 5% VAT – the car has to be in original form with no major modifications to engine, chassis etc. There are different conditions that must be met but it is best to apply with customs early if you think your vehicle may fit the criteria (for more information please see our article ‘BTI Scheme 9705‘)
  • Is the vehicle you are importing into the UK a pickup truck or commercial vehicle?If so, you will have to pay 22% duty and usual 20% VAT on top – being commercial you may be able to claim the VAT back if using it within your business, but best to check with your accountant first.
  • Can I bring it in as a temporary import and not pay anything?If you plan to only keep the car in the UK for less than six months then you can complete a C110 form and not pay any tax/duty. The car must be already registered outside of the EU and if the numberplates use lettering that is not recognisable in the UK you may need temporary import plates.
  • Are you importing this as a personal import or for your company?If importing as a VAT registered company we will require a letter from you on headed paper stating that you wish to import the vehicle under your VAT registration number.
  • What are the usual rates of import duty?OK, the bit you have all been waiting for…. So, if the car is not a European returning car, less than 30 years old and not of historical significance, e.g. a standard 2005 Mustang for example, you will be liable to 10% duty (or 22% if a pickup/commercial) and then 20% VAT on top
  • How do they calculate import duty and VAT?Import duty and VAT is calculated on the invoice provided to show how much you paid for the vehicle – first it is converted into GBP using the current exchange rate (set each month by customs for this purpose) – we then add on a nominal adjustment for shipping (usually around £500) – you then multiply this amount by the duty rate applicable for your vehicle. You now know how much duty you will be paying. Take this figure and add it back onto your vehicle value and then multiply by 20% – this is how much VAT you will pay (yes VAT is on duty too…..)
  • So can I get out of paying VAT or Duty by shipping the car first to lots of different countries, taking the engine out, smashing the windscreen, claiming it is a pretend car, a kit car or a block of cheese?Basically, no.

Forms for downloading

  1. For most imports – cars that you have not owned more than six months, European cars, trucks, etc you will need to fill in a C384 form: C384
  2. For vehicles you have owned for more than six months and if you have lived outside of the EU for at least one year (we will also need proof as discussed above): C104A
  3. Temporary Imports – you will need to complete the following short form: C110
  4. More information will be added to www.howmuchduty.com 

You can obtain an instant and accurate breakdown of all the costs involved in importing a car to the UK including tax/duty for any make/model of vehicle using the drop downs on the right

How to import into UK?

There are many stages in importing a vehicle into the UK, which vary depending on the age, value and manufacturing origin of the vehicle in question. Our full import service includes:


Collection of your vehicle from country of export and delivery to nearest port (currently US only), transportation of vehicle to UK by sea or air, both sea and air transport is fully insured, air freight is more expensive but your vehicle can be in the UK within 48 hours, containerised shipping ensures your car is secure and not open to the elements. Foreign port loading fees and all administration fees are included

UK Container shipment of vehicle

Vehicle shipment in container

UK Services

Unloading of vehicle in the UK from ship, transportation of container to customs bonded warehouse, full inspection and administration carried out

UK Customs

Handling of all HM Customs and Excise administration and payments, fastest customs clearance possible. We ensure European cars do not pay just £50 duty and zero import duty for classic vehicles – for an estimate of import duty and VAT please use our instant quote system.


It is illegal to drive an un-registered vehicle on UK roads, we therefore collect your newly imported vehicle on our specialist transporters. We complete all collection paperwork and condition reports in compliance with UK insurance regulations

In house transport of your imported vehicle

Vehicles shipped to UK carried in house on our transporter

IVA Modifications and Test

The IVA test is an extremely thorough and complex test for all makes/models of vehicles and we do not recommend carrying out modifications / testing unless you are an experienced IVA engineer.

IVA modifications for IVA test by VOSA

VOSA requirements for imported vehicles going through IVA test

All IVA forms filled in and dealt with promptly. All IVA modifications are carried out to the highest of standards to ensure that there is no damage to your vehicle – poor IVA modifications can cause severe vehicle damage, especially with the electronics.

Our invisible IVA lighting modifications

Keep you car looking standard with invisible IVA mods

Thanks to advances in LED technology we can now offer ‘Invisible IVA’ modifications on most vehicles requiring IVA testing.

Our IVA engineers are specially trained and have years of experience in all makes and models of imported vehicles

IVA modifications carried out to your specification, for example we can fit euro-style rear light clusters to maintain the original look of the vehicle

EU light conversion on Chrysler

EU lights installed on Crossfire for IVA test

Vehicle prepared fully for IVA test, your vehicle is then taken to IVA centre and certificate received

If your vehicle is older than three years old an MOT test is also carried out

UK DVLA Registration

All administration included – registration number assigned, plates printed and fixed to vehicle – 12 months road tax included. Personalised number plates available on request

DVLA registration

All DVLA registration included in our car import package

Full valet, storage and delivery

Your vehicle is then taken to our premises to receive a complimentary full valet and to carry out any additional services that you may require. You then have the choice of fully insured storage at our premises or a delivery service to you.

Alarm and Tracker Installations

In order to help your insurance premium and to provide you with extra piece of mind we provide in-house installation of vehicle trackers and Thatcham approved alarms.