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KJPAuto

Importing Cars to the UK

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I'm a car dealer in the States, have UK citizenship, (born in England). I'm exploring an export business sending American cars back to England. Shipping VAT import fees seem pretty straight forward but unclear of the legal requirements to sell in the UK. For starters I'd likely do less than 10 cars a year. Have storage facilities in England, don't need a designated car lot/dealership. Any advice would be appreciated! 

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24 minutes ago, Mikey360 said:

Wait and see what happens with brexit first!

^ ^ ^ This!

Out of curiosity, what cars you'll be shipping?

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I used to import a lot of cars and trucks from the states. Going back about 15 years I was probably one of the biggest UK importers of American Pick Up trucks. The best seller was the Dodge Ram but I also bought in F150's, Chevy's, Hummers and a few Mustangs. Back then the exchange rate was over $2.00 to the pound and it was worth doing. As the exchange rate slipped back it gradually became not worth doing and it eventually reached the point that I could earn more money out of something I bought at BCA. The last thing I bought in was a bright yellow 2012 Camaro Bumblebee look alike that I was stuck with for over a year and ended up taking money back. I think I had about £25K tied up in it and didn't earn a bean out of it so that was the end of it for me. The problem with a lot of American stuff is that you have to sit on it and wait for the right man to come along, I bought in a brand new Chevy SSR once and had to sit and look at it for two and a half years!.

To say it is a niche market is a slight understatement to say the least and most of the big players who were at it when I was have disappeared and moved on to other things with the exception of a firm called 51st state Autos but the guy obviously has the money to burn as it's mainly pretty lumpy late gear that he deals in. It's a real shame as I have some fantastic contacts over there and still have auction access but for me $1.30 to the pound just doesn't make it worthwhile.

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6 minutes ago, Autolink100 said:

I used to import a lot of cars and trucks from the states. Going back about 15 years I was probably one of the biggest UK importers of American Pick Up trucks..

Would it be a go'er if you lived in mainland Europe ?

Always surprises me how many US imported cars you see out there

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I used to sell quite a few to people in Europe and here's why. The rules were (and maybe still are) that if a car had been previously registered in a EU state, it could then be registered in any other EU state. It was a doddle to register a Pick Up here in the UK, much easier than say France or Germany so if they bought one here that was UK registered it was much easier to register over there. It was very difficult to register a US car in France for example if it had come directly from the US but much easier if it had been registered here first.

There was lot of work to do apart from all the shipping and customs. Anything from the US had to go through a conformity test with the ministry which used to be called an SVA test, then you had to MOT it and finally register it. All told it would normally be around 3 months from buying in the US to having it ready to retail over here and sometimes quite a bit longer if you missed a shipping date etc.

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Have imported a couple of cars from the US, as mentioned above they were really great news when the exchange rate was in our favour, not so much now and who knows if we ever manage to sort Brexit!

The fact you are out there puts you at an advantage as you can handle the export side, I would advise a container as I remember seeing a Mustang at the clearance centre that had been robbed of parts.

out of interest, what are you looking to import?  New US only models or older Euro spec?

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7 hours ago, KJPAuto said:

I'm a car dealer in the States, have UK citizenship, (born in England). I'm exploring an export business sending American cars back to England. Shipping VAT import fees seem pretty straight forward but unclear of the legal requirements to sell in the UK. For starters I'd likely do less than 10 cars a year. Have storage facilities in England, don't need a designated car lot/dealership. Any advice would be appreciated! 

not much call for it now for a few reasons, classics have slowed here, exchange rate poor, the few main sellers now available here in right hand drive - mustang, corvette cadilac sr. etc?there is a bit of life in british classics in lhd if they are cheap basket cases.

being u.s.a based you should use it too your advantage and try it in reverse- exchange rate is good for you, and you should be looking closer at your u.s.a 25 year rule if you know what i mean, just don't tell everyone;)

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41 minutes ago, awc1000 said:

not much call for it now for a few reasons, classics have slowed here, exchange rate poor, the few main sellers now available here in right hand drive - mustang, corvette cadilac sr. etc?there is a bit of life in british classics in lhd if they are cheap basket cases.

being u.s.a based you should use it too your advantage and try it in reverse- exchange rate is good for you, and you should be looking closer at your u.s.a 25 year rule if you know what i mean, just don't tell everyone;)

Had pondered this as the exchange rate slides. Got a brother in Canada so was thinking of looking for LHD stuff to export. And as you say, 25 yr rule helps. I think Skylines will be hitting this shortly, though all RHD I guess.

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8 minutes ago, CCC said:

. I think Skylines will be hitting this shortly, though all RHD I guess.

That scene has been milked already for the past few years

Remember when R32 GTRs were £5k...

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1 minute ago, CCC said:

Had pondered this as the exchange rate slides. Got a brother in Canada so was thinking of looking for LHD stuff to export. And as you say, 25 yr rule helps. I think Skylines will be hitting this shortly, though all RHD I guess.

not just or really LHD, and i think skylines are available stateside already? there is stuff here that wasn't available in the states for various reasons emmissions / crash safety etc, a lot of these will start to leave the u.k under the 25 year exemption rule, a certain brands better models are now starting to qualify for the 25 year rule and coupled to the dollar buying a lot of sterling i'll not be surprised to see and exodus here.

6 minutes ago, twerp said:

That scene has been milked already for the past few years

Remember when R32 GTRs were £5k...

not the later euro spec cars yet, these are not eligible stateside until being 25 years old, currently that means 1994 and backwards, the later euro hotter spec cars 95-98 will be on the export radar soon, if you have one hang onto it for now! 

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Thanks for the replies. My focus would be on classic stuff, I understand VAT is much lower on anything 30 years old. Brexit has to sort itself out before I do a thing, agreed. The original plan was to export, then import back to the US keeping the funds tied up in inventory. Sadly, Europe was going to be a secondary market but who the hell knows what will happen now. Agreed, if the rate takes a dive coming over and spending there to bring back to the US is a consideration.

Can anyone shed some light on these areas: How many cars can you sell as "personal" vehicles? Do the vehicles have to be registered in my name to bring them in, or is sending them with title paperwork sufficient? What are the costs and availability of a trader plate? 

Appreciate all the help and good luck with Brexit, seems like a right cock up from over here. 

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The japs like a classic? 

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