Ship Your Car To Or From the UK
Typical Shipping Prices – How Much Does It Cost?
- Vehicle transport costs to the UK from the United States will most commonly be between $2,300 and $4,800.
- Because there is a lot of cargo that flows between the US and UK, there are plenty of shipping options, which means you can sometimes find a slightly cheaper price.
Cost & Time Examples For Shipping a Car to UK
|San Jose, CA to (California port) to Felixstowe||$200||$3,200||5+39|
|New York, NY to (New York port) to Liverpool||$275||$1,800||5+28|
|Boston, MA to (New York port) to London||$400||$2,100||5+12|
|Las Vegas, NV to (California port) to Felixstowe||$450||$3,200||5+39|
|Portland, OR to (California port) to Liverpool||$475||$3,200||6+30|
|Phoenix, AZ to (California port) to Liverpool||$550||$3,200||6+30|
|Detroit, MI to (New York port) to London||$575||$2,100||6+12|
|Chicago, IL to (New York port) to London||$675||$2,100||6+12|
|Atlanta, GA to (New York port) to Felixstowe||$700||$2,100||6+12|
|Dallas, TX to (California port) to Felixstowe||$1,025||$3,200||7+39|
*Prices and times are estimated. They can vary depending on the season and the type of vehicle.
*Save the ground transport cost by delivering the vehicle to the nearest port.
*Allow an additional 10 days to process the documents.
*Prices are for 1 car in a dedicated 20ft container. This is the safest and most reliable way to transport a vehicle internationally. Other items may be included in the container to help save you money when moving.
*Using the RoRo (roll on, roll off) method is less expensive and shipments can be completed in fewer days. Contact us now for a free RoRo quote.
This DOES NOT have to be an intimidating process! Armed with the correct information, it can be done as smoothly as possible. One of the best things about shipping your car to the UK is that there is NO language barrier, and therefore, information is seldom misconstrued or misunderstood.
To begin, you must ensure your vehicle meets a number of specific regulations, such as the Road Vehicle Regulations 1986 and the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations 1989. If you are importing the vehicle permanently, you must also provide proof that your car meets all environmental and safety regulations. This can be done by using the Individual Vehicle Approval scheme. Details on this process can be found on the UK government’s website.
Click here to learn more about vehicle registration process in the United Kingdom.
Popular Shipping Destinations
A-1 Auto Transport ships vehicles worldwide. Click here or call 1-800-518-8708 to get a free, no obligation to buy price quote to ship your car.
Required Documents For Shipping A Vehicle To The United Kingdom
- Bill of lading.
- Proof of ownership (registration)
- Certificate of insurance.
- Import document C104A.
Upon entry into the UK, you must pay duties and taxes, as with any import into a foreign county. You may also be subject to VAT (Value Added Tax), but there are a number of scenarios in which this fee can be excused as detailed at.
In short, you may qualify to have duties and VAT waived if:
- You are making a permanent move to the UK.
- You are importing a previously exported UK vehicle.
- You are a non-European Union member and you don’t intend to stay longer than 6 months (also known as temporary admission relief)
If you do not fall into one of these categories, be prepared to pay all duties, taxes, and VAT upon the vehicle arriving in the UK. It is also essential that you notify HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) that you will be importing a vehicle by completing the “Notification of Vehicle Arrivals” service online at this link. Once this process is completed, the total owed for the VAT will be sent to you by the HMRC and you will be instructed to pay immediately. Penalties will be assessed if the VAT is not paid.
Before you import your vehicle, it would be extremely helpful to obtain a “Vehicle Import Pack” from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (henceforth referred to as DVLA), the UK equivalent of the US Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This can be accessed on the Department of Transport website.
There are certain restrictions placed on vehicles over 10 years old, so it would be in your best interest to contact the DVLA prior to attempting to ship a vehicle of that age (see this website).
Upon arrival, it is extremely important that you insure and register your vehicle as soon as possible. It is highly recommended that you transport your car from the port to its final destination, because you are not allowed to drive the vehicle until it is both properly insured and registered.
Please remember that it is in your best interest to always keep copies, or originals, if available, of all documentation used throughout the process as these are the forms you will most likely need to present to secure proper registration.
Shipping Specialized Vehicles To The United Kingdom
The necessary documentation and applicable regulations will be much the same, when shipping a motorcycle, RV, boat or classic car to the United Kingdom. However, keep in mind that as covered above, vehicles manufactured more than 10 years ago (such as classic automobiles) may be subject to certain restrictions.
Duty and Tax Exemption
If you’re only visiting the UK and your specialty vehicle will be imported on a temporary basis (six months or less) - then you must fill out form C110 to receive temporary admission relief of duty and VAT. To be eligible, you must continue to pay all vehicle taxes required by your origin country and maintain the vehicle’s registration in that country. Also, the vehicle must be for your own personal use and it cannot be rented out, lent to others or sold in the UK (1).
For those moving to the UK long term instead, a ToR1 application is necessary to receive duty and tax exemption. This Application for Transfer of Residence relief (ToR1) is now the required document to declare permanent vehicle importation and it replaces Form C104A (2).
In addition, in order to have import duty and tax waived on permanent vehicle imports, you must have purchased and personally used the vehicle for more than the last six months. Further, you must certify that you won’t sell or get rid of the vehicle for at least one year after moving to the UK. Finally, registration with the DVLA prior to shipping your motorcycle, RV, boat or classic car is mandatory (3).
You’ll need to show a purchase invoice, proof of insurance or other paperwork demonstrating that you’ve owned and used the vehicle in your origin country for at least six months (4). Customs will also ask to see proof that your previous residence was in a non-EU country, and either a bank statement or utility bill is acceptable for this purpose. Your vehicle registration and either the Original Bill of Lading or Air Waybill for the shipment are also required (5).
Additional Paperwork For Non-Exempt Vehicles
If your classic car, boat, RV or motorcycle doesn’t qualify for duty and tax exemption, you may need to provide additional documents. For instance, if your vehicle was manufactured under six months ago, then Declaration Form C384 is necessary. Form C179B or Community Transit Form T2 may also be needed in certain cases. Finally, for all shipments regardless of exemption status, an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number is required (6).
Shipping Options For Specialized Vehicles
Roll-on/roll-off shipping is often a consumer's first choice for many different vehicle types. The reason RoRo shipping is so popular, is due to the fast and easy loading and unloading which this method provides (7). In addition, RoRo shipping is typically more economical than container shipping. However, a container shared with other vehicles (a consolidated container) may be nearly the same price in some cases.
One drawback of RoRo shipping is the inability of some ports to accommodate RoRo vessels - so your options may be more limited compared to using a container ship with its own crane on board (8).
It’s extremely unlikely that your RV will fit into a container, though many small towable camping trailers will fit comfortably (9). With usable interior space in a standard container measuring roughly 7 feet 10 inches high and 7 feet 8 inches wide, containers can accommodate nearly all cars and even most SUVs, trucks and vans (10). That said, you must verify that your specific vehicle will fit before shipping (being sure to leave room for egress of the vehicle after loading).
Similar in most aspects to container shipping, the key difference is the size of the unit. Rather than a 20 or 40 foot shipping container, crate shipping allows you to use a custom-built crate that’s perfectly sized to hold the item being shipped. While shipping a car in this way isn’t typical, customers often wish to encase their motorcycle in a protective crate - to prevent scratches, dents, salt exposure or other damage during transit.
Flat Rack Shipping
Flat rack containers are open on the top and sides, enabling them to hold vehicles which can’t fit inside a standard shipping container. This makes flat rack shipping a viable option for RVs, as long as the wheelbase isn’t too wide to rest securely on the flat rack’s base.
If you wish to ship an oversized RV or even a boat to the UK, then lift-on/lift-off (LoLo) shipping could be the best avenue to explore. Unlike a ship that must use a crane housed on the dock, a LoLo ship has its own crane on board. This will either be a jib, derrick or gantry crane - and each design has its own specific features and capabilities. A LoLo ship is typically set up with flexible cargo areas, allowing it to make space for even outsized vehicles and sailing vessels (11).
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the most important ports in the UK for car shipments coming from the USA?
The UK is an island nation and thus naturally has an abundance of seaports, too many to list here, but some of the most important and most iconic ports are as follows:
Felixstowe Port: This port handles almost half, 48% to be exact, of the country’s container shipment operations. It can deal with 3.8 million TEUs of container traffic which makes it more than capable of handling car shipments in bulk. Also, since the port connects the UK with the major commercial centers of mainland Europe, it would not be wrong to call it the jugular of container shipping in the UK. Plus, it has three train rails which connect it with 47 freight trains.
Southampton Port: While this port is primarily known for its passenger handling capabilities, it is also more than capable of dealing with cargo import/export business. Since it is well-linked with roads and rails, it functions continually even with bulk cargo influx. It handles about 820,000 car shipments every year, plus it has a container capacity of 1.5 TEUs.
London Port: Connected with the financial core of the UK, this port handles massive trade operations, around 51.2 million tons in a year! And if things go on steady as predicted, this number is expected to swell to 80 million tons. Plus, since the port handles all sorts of cargo, even hazardous one, car shipments are not that big of a stretch.
Immingham Port: This port is an important cargo shipping center and has an impressive tonnage capacity of about 55 million tons. Apart from handling 10 million tons of coal and twice as much oil, the port also deals with car shipments, especially with roll-on, roll-off shipping.
Liverpool Port: This port is perfectly equipped for dealing with automobile shipments, especially via roll-on, roll-off shipping. With a massive shipping terminal, the port welcomes several large container vessels and other ships every day.
How much will a car shipment from the USA to the UK cost me?
There is no exact figure when it comes to car shipments because of all the variables involved and whether you can secure concessions or not. But just for the sake of reference, you should keep a sum of $2,300 to $4,800 in mind when shipping a car from the USA to the UK.
This rate is based on the standard cost of the container shipping option, you can, of course, minimize the sum by opting for roll-on, roll-off shipping instead. Then there are other details like the overseas travel distance, taxes, customs duties, and so on, that can affect the final price.
When should I expect my car shipment to arrive in the UK from the USA, can you explain the timeframe?
If you’ve relocated to the UK and want your vehicle shipped to your address there then you’ll need to schedule it smartly because it won’t happen overnight. The time frame is not fixed because there can always be unexpected delays in the process.
However, the biggest factor in this equation is the overseas travel distance; that is going to take the biggest chunk of your time. The distance is predicated on your selection of the optimal route in your case.
For this, you'll need to select the departure and destination ports based on the original location of the vehicle and the delivery address. Based on this, the time taken for the delivery to come through will vary.
For instance, the New York Port to England route will take about 23 days to cover, however, if the starting point is the California port, then the voyage will take about 35 days. Based on this information, your car shipment will take more than a month to reach you.
Of course, there are other factors to consider too such as the overland travel distance for transport and delivery, customs clearance, and registration. Then there are unexpected delays to consider, such as those created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
What are the recommended preparations I should know of when shipping my car from the USA to the UK?
Pre-shipping preparations are important, you don’t need to do much but do it right. Start with cleaning the exterior, including the undercarriage, preferably via steam cleaning. You need to make sure that the undercarriage is free from any foreign soil before you ship it to the UK.
This may seem trivial but it’s not. While it may not be a legal import requirement all around the world, it is still a good idea nevertheless. It is important because this way, you can ensure that you don’t accidentally introduce any pests or invasive species to the new habitat.
Moving on, you’ll have to clean the interior.
Make sure that none of your personal belongings are left inside the vehicle once you're done if you're going for the roll-on, roll-off shipment option. In this case, your car will be operable, so you’ll also have to put gas into the tank but no more than a quarter of its cubic capacity.
You can skip all of this trouble, of course, by contacting A1 Auto Transport and letting us handle everything for you.
What documents do I need to import my car from the USA to the UK, can you give me a checklist?
Here’s a checklist of documents you’ll need for clearing your car import to the UK:
- Certificate of title
- Bill/Invoice of sale
- Lading bill
- Documents proving your ownership over the vehicle
- Vehicle registration documents
- A valid passport
- C104A form
Also, look up the legal import requirements on the UK customs website to stay up to date about what you need. Make sure that all of the information on your documents is completely accurate and that none of them are missing.
This way, you can avoid unnecessary delays with the customs department.
Can you lay down the details of the whole process of importing a car from the USA to the UK, sequentially and briefly?
Here’s a breakdown of the whole process of shipping your car from the USA to the UK:
- Start with research – you need to look for a couple of things before you take things any further:
- Import requirements for cars in the UK
- List of documents you need to import your car
- Whether or not you can secure a tax exemption
- The conformity standards your vehicle needs to comply with in the UK
- Whether or not you can make your car comply with those standards via modifications if they don’t do so as-is
- Gather your paperwork – you need the following documents to import your car legally in the UK:
- Certificate of title
- Documents proving the origin of the vehicles
- Bill of lading
- Ownership documents
- Invoice of sale
- Vehicle registration paperwork
- And so on…
- Analyze the costs – next, you need to figure out how much all of this is going to cost you and what you can do to minimize the sum:
- Insurance coverage charges
- Freight charges
- Storage charges
- Transport/delivery charges
- Import processing fees
- Customs duties
- Import taxes
- Vehicle registration fees
- Pre-shipping preparation fees
- Customs broker’s charges
- Logistics services company’s fees
- Select a shipment company – then you need to figure out who you’re going to trust your vehicle with, you need to look for:
- A proven track record (check out reviews and references)
- Customer service
- Versatility of shipment options
- Complete support at all levels (i.e. at A1 Auto Transport, we always have your back!)
- Pre-shipping – at this stage, you need to ensure a couple of things before you ship your car:
- Clean the interior of the car
- Clean the exterior plus the undercarriage
- Determine the departure port
- Select the destination port
- Choose your shipment option, i.e. roll-on, roll-off shipment, or container shipment
- Ship your car
- Arrival at the selected port
- Import processing
- Customs clearance
- Paying the taxes and customs duties
- Vehicle registration
- Putting on the assigned number plates
Can you summarize the customs duties and taxes applicable for car imports from the USA to the UK?
Unless you can claim a tax exemption in your case, you’ll have to pay the following taxes and customs duties for your car import to the UK:
- 10% import duty (customs duty)
- 20% value-added tax (VAT)
- In case you’ve imported a collector’s vehicle, you’ll only have to pay the 5% customs duty but without the VAT
When do I have to pay import taxes for a car import to the UK?
In the following cases, you’ll have to pay a tax for importing a car to the UK:
- If the vehicle is new and has not been driven for more than 6 months
- If you’re not an EU resident and plan on staying in the UK for over a year
- If you’ve already claimed a tax refund on the VAT/sales tax of the said car
- If you purchased the car tax-free, to begin with
When can I claim a tax exemption for importing a car from the USA to the UK?
You can get an exemption for your tax payments in the following cases:
- If you’re currently residing in the EU and importing the car temporarily
- If you’re moving to the UK and can claim transfer of residency
- If you’re not an EU resident but are temporarily importing the car
Plus, you need to satisfy these conditions:
- You need to be residing in the UK
- The said vehicle should be registered in the USA
- Plus, all the taxes should be cleared in the USA
- You should be planning on using the vehicle only temporarily, i.e. 6 months
What import regulations should I be looking out for when importing a car from the USA to the UK?
The legal regulations for imported cars are not all that strict in the UK, however, some regulations are worth your attention:
- Compliance with the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations, 1989
- Compliance with safe emission levels
- Compliance with vehicle safety standards for the passengers
And so on…
In short, there is nothing out of the ordinary in there, if your car is perfectly safe and not too hard to the environment, you shouldn’t have any trouble importing it. In case you’re not sure about whether your vehicle complies with the said standards, you can have it tested, and if needed, you can modify the vehicle accordingly.
Is the tax for imported cars from the USA to the UK constant?
No, the taxes and duties for different car imports will be variable. For classic vehicles (pre-1950), you can skip the customs duties and only pay a 5% VAT. For trucks and commercial vehicles, you’ll have to pay 22% customs duties and a standard 20% VAT.
For cars that are more than thirty years, you should contact the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) before you import for further information. But you most probably won’t have to pay a penny in duties save for a 5% VAT.
This only applies to unmodified (engine and chassis) vehicles.
For new vehicles, those that are no older than 6 months, you’ll need to fill in the details on the C110 and C104A forms and submit them to the relevant authorities.
What is mutual recognition for car imports to the UK, and does it apply to vehicles coming from the USA?
Mutual recognition applies when a car from one EU country is shipped to another in which case there is no doubt that the car complies with the legal import regulations. Cars shipped from the USA to the UK will not qualify for mutual recognition unless of course the car is of EU origin and was temporarily shipped to the USA.
You’ll have to contact the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in the UK for checking whether or not your car complies with the requirements. Also, if your car is older than 10 years, you need to double-check whether it will be allowed inside the UK.
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Found on Atlas Int’l “Importing Personal Belongings Into the UK” page.