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Private Vehicle Imports

Alinea Customs provides import clearance administration for private vehicle imports  - arriving in the UK, or that have been temporarily imported into the UK, and subsequently require DVLA registration of permanent residency.


Our private vehicle import service provides dedicated support for private individuals unfamiliar with customs procedures, and prompt customs clearance with no hidden charges.

Car Dealership

Customs Valuation 

In order to provide customs clearance, supporting documentation should be provided which identifies the customs valuation of the car. 

HMRC provide a guide to customs valuation: working out the value of your imported goods.

In circumstances where a recent sale has been made, the customs valuation can be based upon the sale for export document - the commercial invoice, in addition to the freight charges.

However - used cars that have been owned for a signficant period of time may require an alternative valuation method - for example the current price on the UK market. In this circumstance it would be advisable to request for a reputable used car dealer to issue a formal document with the valuation.


Determining whether customs duty is liable

Customs duty may be chargeable depending on the country of origin, and supporting documentation. The rules of origin determine whether your goods are eligible for preferential tariffs, according to the terms of the associated free trade agreement, or trade which is conducted under the General System of Preferences (GSP) framework. In situations where rules of origin do not apply, goods trade under most favoured nation (MFN) rates.

If it is a vehicle of UK origin which has been exported from the UK and is subsequently reimported by a new owner, customs duty will be liable. 

If the origin of the car is a country which has a free trade agreement with the UK, for example Europe or Japan, then supporting documentation will be requested, and 0% customs duty will be liable.

Customs duty is chargeable (if applicable) on the customs valuation, and the price paid for freight (and insurance if using) to the UK border.

Import VAT

Import VAT is chargeable at 20% of:

  • the customs valuation

  • the price paid for freight (and insurance if using) to the the inland destination

  • the amount of customs duty liable

For example - if the customs valuation is £20,000 and the price paid for freight and insurance to the UK border is £800, with a total £1000 charged for EXW delivery to the destination, and the origin of the car is the United States (US). The private vehicle importer importing a used car classified under commodity code: 8703329000 will pay the following:​

Customs duty @10% - £2080

Import VAT @20% - £4616

Total: £6696

If the car was originating in the Netherlands, a country which is part of the European Union, which has a free trade agreement with the UK, the valuation would be as follows:

Customs duty @0% - £0

Import VAT @20% - £4200

Total: £4200

Once Alinea Customs has provided customs clearance, we will send a secure link to pay customs levies online directly to HMRC using the customs declaration service (CDSI) immediate payments facility. The payment can be made via debit/credit card, or via a domestic or international bank transfer.

Returned goods relief

Private vehicles which have been out of the UK for up to 3 years, and have not had any repairs beyond essential maintenance conducted may claim returned goods relief, providing they are reimported by the same individual that originally exported the vehicle. Proof of export can include an export declaration, or a ferry crossing booking which includes the vehicle registration number, name and address.

NOVA registration

On behalf of the importer, following customs clearance and payment of import VAT and customs duty if liable to to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Alinea Customs will submit a notification of vehicle arrival (NOVA) providing the relevant documentation to inform the authorities that you have brought a vehicle into the UK.


Following this, the CAR imports team will review the documentation, and based on the information you have provided to HMRC, issue a letter to inform you that an application can now be made to register and license the vehicle with Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). Please note that certain vehicle information will be shared with DVLA for registration and licensing purposes.

To open a new client account please follow the link: open a new client account - private vehicle importation.

For further information, please contact our team:

email: or call: +44 (0) 207 101 4242

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