Foreign Vehicles

Tax avoidance and cost of conversion to UK spec

15 October 2008

The AA is disturbed to see that over 1200 foreign drivers were caught driving without road tax in a one week campaign. The AA suggests some may do this to avoid parking, speeding or congestion charge fines, whilst others can not afford to change their vehicles to comply with UK law.

The crackdown by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has led to a number of vehicles being either towed away or wheelclamped.

In total, 1,233 drivers were issued with warning notices during the week.

AA comment

Edmund King, AA president said; "Many of these drivers are deliberately avoiding paying UK road tax to stay out of our vehicle registration system and therefore outside much of motoring law.

"There will be others who find it difficult to change their vehicles to comply with our laws and so ignore the law."

Converting a car for UK use

To register a foreign vehicle in Britain physical changes have to be made to the vehicle, as well as other administrative demands being met and a £65 fee.

Among the changes that have to be made are:

  • Speedometer must read in miles per hour and kilometres per hour
  • Single rear fog lamps must be moved to the offside or centreline of the vehicle
  • Headlamps must be permanently adjusted to suit driving on the left
  • Side repeater indicators must be fitted
  • Rear seat belts must be fitted, even if they are not to be used

Some of these demands are very restrictive, and must act as a deterrent to many people obeying the law and registering their car in Britain. They will not be cheap, and some will have to be reversed if the vehicle is to return to its country of origin.

Time for a change?

"Perhaps the time has come for Britain to debate which is most important – to require these modifications, but risk people not registering because of the restrictions, or to be more forgiving in how we allow imported cars to be equipped and get them on the vehicle register." says King. "If the safety changes are not important in the first six months, are they suddenly crucial afterwards?"

The drivers of foreign-registered vehicles must have UK vehicle excise duty if they have driven in the UK for more than six months.

Join the discussion in the AA zone


20 October 2008