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Import car insurance

Find cheap cover for your
imported car

Are imported cars more expensive to insure?

Car insurance policies for imported cars tend to be higher in price than policies for conventional UK-bought cars, usually because:

  • It can be harder and more expensive to source spare parts, making these vehicles more costly to repair 
  • Imported cars are often built to a higher specification than conventional cars. Because they can be driven faster, the likelihood of accidents is higher
  • An imported vehicle might not be constructed to the same standards as a European model. The car could be a left-hand drive, for example. Any difference in the way the vehicle is constructed can have an impact on price.

What types of imported cars can I insure?

Imported cars are generally sorted into the following categories:

Parallel imports

These are vehicles manufactured inside the EU. Finding cover for a car imported from Europe tends to be simpler than finding cover for a grey import, as parallel import vehicles have to meet the same minimum standards as UK vehicles.

Grey imports

are cars built outside the EU and which do not conform to European standards. Japanese imports, for example, often fall into the grey import category. Some insurers will not offer cover for grey imports, or will only do so at an inflated price to reflect the extra costs involved in sourcing, transporting and installing any spare parts.

You may also encounter the following while insuring an import car:

Personal imports

Buyers looking further afield for their next car, often overseas, are part of a growing trend in the car market.

Left hand drive cars

Buyers looking further afield for their next car, often overseas, are part of a growing trend in the car market.

Compare quotes for import car insurance

The process is the same as for conventional car insurance, but you may be asked a series of more detailed questions about the car before being offered a quote.

  • Give us a few details

    Just pop in some information about you and the car, including what make and model it is, how you’ll use it and where it was imported from

  • Compare quotes from providers

    We’ll do the legwork, searching the market for the cheapest car insurance quotes that offer the cover you need

  • Get your import covered

    Once you find the deal you want, just click through to the provider’s website and get your imported car protected

How can I get cheaper insurance for my imported car?

Insuring an imported car can cost a little more than it would to insure a standard vehicle, but there are always steps you can take to reduce your premiums:

  • Choose your car wisely: Some cars, regardless of whether they’re imported or bought in the UK, will be more expensive to insure. This could be because they’re more powerful, more expensive or harder to find spare parts for
  • Avoid modifications: Modifying your car can give it a unique and customised feel, but it’s also likely to bring your premiums up – particularly if the modifications improve your car’s performance or attractiveness to thieves 
  • Safety, security and storage: Improving your car’s safety and security features, however, are modifications that can actually reduce your premium – and keeping the vehicle stored in a locked garage overnight will also help reduce the risk of theft or vandalism claims
  • Excess: If you can volunteer a higher excess fee your insurer should reward you with cheaper cover, as it tells them you won’t bother making small or frivolous claims. Just be sure it’s an amount you can afford to pay when you do need to claim 
  • No-claims: If you can for a year or longer without making a claim on your car insurance policy, you’ll start to accumulate a no-claims discount or bonus – and the longer you build it up, the bigger the discount will be
  • Pay annually: Paying annually for your car insurance will mean a bigger initial payment – but it will often work out cheaper overall, compared to spreading the cost over 12 months
Sara Newell

Our expert says

"Imported cars can be appealing, with many Japanese and American models more powerful and attractive than the cars you can find in the UK. However, you’ll likely need to pay a little more to insure these cars, as their greater performance capabilities will make them a higher claim risk on the road. This is why comparing quotes is so important – it lets you compare policies from a range of providers who will cover your imported car, so you can find the cover that suits you best."

- Sara Newell, Motor and Van Insurance Lead

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You will need a vehicle identification number (VIN) to get insurance for your imported car, and this insurance will need to be in place before you can register the car in the UK.

You can find the VIN stamped on to the car’s chassis.

Imported Japanese cars are likely to be more expensive to insure, as they’re classified as ‘grey imports’ – cars that don’t conform to UK specifications. As they’ll usually be more powerful and dangerous to drive, or built from parts that aren’t widely available in the UK, they’ll present a bigger risk to the insurer.

Similar to Japanese cars, American car imports will fall into the ‘grey’ category, meaning they aren’t build to UK specifications and will likely be more costlier to cover.

You will have to declare if your car is imported when you take out cover. In fact, you should always be totally honest and open about your circumstances with your insurance provider, so they can provide the right level of cover you need and you can be sure you’re fully protected.

The amount of VAT you’ll pay on your imported car will depend on how much the vehicle cost, as well as the delivery fee and any accessories you’ve bought (which you’ll also have to pay VAT on). The duty you’ll need to pay will depend on the type of car and where you bought it from.

When you import a car into the UK, you’ll need to make sure you do the following:

  • Inform HMRC within 14 days of the car arriving in the UK
  • Pay any VAT or duty you need to on the car
  • Get your vehicle approved to ensure it meets UK environmental and safety standards
  • Register the car with the DVLA to get your registration number, which allows you to get a UK number plate

You will also need to let the British Independent Motor Trade Association (BIMTA) – who represent the independent vehicle trade industry. They’ll run various checks on the car, including its background and mileage.

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