Importing and registering Cuthbert

The process of vehicle import and registration in UK took some researching. If it is of any assistance to anyone contemplating the same, this is how we managed to do it.

Taking delivery

Before the vehicle was ready for collection from Bocklet, it had passed all the German TUV homologation inspections and had all the relevant EU certifications.  We had hoped to be able to collect the vehicle from Bocklet in Germany and drive it to UK on German temporary export plates, before registering it in UK.  However as UK residents, we couldn’t legally drive a German registered vehicle on UK roads. We therefore had to arrange for a German delivery driver (we used ) to bring the vehicle to UK on German trade plates.  For reasons explained under the section ‘IVA Pass Certificate’ below, we arranged delivery to ‘Green Crest Storage’ at Weston Super Mare ( ).  The guys there provided an excellent service and they have a great B&B on-site; we cannot recommend them highly enough.

After delivery to UK, we could obviously still not legally drive it on UK roads until it was registered with UK plates.  To do this we needed to produce for DVLA:  (i) insurance certificate with a UK insurance company; (ii) UK VAT receipt; and (iii) an IVA Pass Certificate.


We were aware that it can sometimes be a problem to find cover for these kinds of vehicles, so we wanted to have cover in place in advance of the vehicle being delivered to us in UK.  As cover is being arranged before registration of the vehicle, insurance has to be arranged using the chassis number until a registration number is issued.  To first register the vehicle in the UK, the law required us to have a minimum cover of 3rd party liability insurance from a UK registered insurance company.


We found that unlike with other items purchased in the EU (where VAT is paid only to the EU State in which the item is bought), with a vehicle we would have to pay UK VAT on import to UK, regardless of any VAT that had already been paid in the EU State of purchase.  German VAT had to be paid with the purchase price, but could be claimed back on proof of payment of UK VAT.  In the interim period we had therefore paid EU VAT twice, which to us seemed unreasonable: isn’t one of the well-publicised purposes of the EU meant to be ‘free movement of goods’? (don’t get us started on the EU!!).  We feared a long ‘administrative delay’ to recover our money.

In practice, the payment of UK VAT is quite easy to do on-line, provided that you are already registered for Self-Assessment Tax Returns.  A couple of days later we received a letter/receipt from HMRC, which we then forwarded to Bocklet for a refund of the German VAT.  Other than the inconvenience and cost of being out-of-pocket for the large sum of VAT for the interim period, the system actually all worked quite well in practice.

IVA Pass Certificate

As mentioned above, on delivery to UK the vehicle had passed all the German tests and had ‘official’ pan-european approval (for both the pre- and post-modification of the vehicle). Unfortunately the UK does not accept this German/EU certification and required a further VOSA Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) inspection (what is the purpose of so-called ‘common’ EU standards and certification???).

The procedure we followed for this was:

(i)                  complete the forms downloaded from the VOSA website;

(ii)                send to VOSA with copies of the vehicle papers;

(iii)               once VOSA had reviewed and was satisfied with the documents, they sent the details to our chosen VOSA Test Station; and finally

(iv)              the Test Station contacted us to make an appointment for the inspection.

As Cuthbert is over 3500 kgs we had to choose an HGV Test Centre. There are not many of these across UK,  but from our base on the south coast, Bristol was the most convenient for us (this is why, as noted in the ‘Delivery’ section above, we had Cuthbert delivered from Germany to Green Crest Storage near Weston Super Mare).

The next problem was to get Cuthbert from his storage location to the VOSA Test Centre. We needed another ‘trade plate move’ and Green Crest helpfully recommended Weston Recovery Services (see:- ).  A driver with trade plates from Weston Recovery Services met me at Green Crest and drove Cuthbert to the Test Centre, with me in the passenger seat for the first time!

The IVA inspection went reasonably well, but Cuthbert failed the initial inspection as the edges of the retractable step (under the rear cabin) had slightly sharp edges.  Luckily Weston Recovery Services came to our rescue!  The Weston Recovery driver took us back to their garage and their team quickly found some aluminium edging, cut it to size and fitted it in time for an afternoon re-test (great work guys much appreciated).  The re-test was a success and the coveted ‘IVA Pass Certificate’ was issued!

‘Final Stage Application’ to ‘on the road’

The final stage of the application was to send to DVLA: the IVA Pass Certificate; the Application for First Registration; the insurance certificate; and a cheque for the road tax and the registration fee.  Apparently it can take up to 2 weeks for the final registration process and a further 4 weeks for the V5 Vehicle Registration Document to arrive.  Bearing in mind that we posted all the paperwork on 31 December, we were amazed to receive the V5 within a week, even with the New Year holiday in the middle…. good effort DVLA 😉

Armed with the V5 we rushed to Halfords to have the number plates made up, then in a taxi to collect Cuthbert from the Green Crest storage.   All in all it was not too painful a process and the VOSA, HMRC and DVLA websites have all the information you require.  There is even a copy of the IVA inspection manual on the VOSA web-site, so you can make sure you have not missed anything before the inspection, especially any sharp edges!