Imported car insurance

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These days, more and more people are looking further afield and importing cars from abroad.

While this opens up a lot of options, it can also bring extra costs. We'll go over what's involved when taking out insurance for an imported car, so that you avoid paying any more than you need to.

In This Guide:

Will the type of car I import affect my insurance?

Cars imported into the UK fall into one of two categories: 'grey' imports and 'parallel' imports.

Grey imports are built outside of the EU and so do not have to conform to European build standards and regulations. Such cars will, before an insurer agrees to cover them, have to pass an Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) test, as with a kit car. This test costs around £200 and is required in order to make a grey import road legal in the UK.

Grey imports, particularly those from Japan, will often exceed their European counterparts when it comes to power and the performance of electronic systems for example.

Both this, and the fact that the sourcing of parts for repairs will naturally be harder than for a car bought domestically, mean that insuring a grey import can get expensive. But while relatively higher costs will be unavoidable, you don't need to pay totally extortionate prices - good value, cheap car insurance is available.

Parallel imports are those built and bought within the EU. They of course will conform to EU regulations and standards just like cars built in the UK. They will therefore be easier or cheaper to insure than grey imports, as a general rule. 

Since the UK left the EU, the cost of car insurance for European imports has stayed consistent with pre-Brexit levels, although this could change in the future. For more information, read our guide on insuring EU imports after Brexit.

Getting your imported car approved for driving in the UK

In order to drive any car on UK roads, you need to demonstrate its conformity with UK build regulations and environmental standards. Getting this confirmed is known as 'type approval'.

Type approval is easy enough to get for a car imported from the EU. You just need to contact the car's manufacturer to get a European Certificate of Conformity - if you've bought the car second hand, the person who sold it to you might already have this. If the vehicle is left-hand drive, you'll also need a certificate of Mutual Recognition - contact the Vehicle Certification Agency for more information on how to get one.

If your car has come from outside the EU, or if for any reason you can't get either a Mutual Recognition certificate or a Certificate of Conformity, you'll need your car to pass an Individual Vehicle Approval test. Visit the DVSA website for more information and to book a test.

Are imported cars more expensive to insure than cars bought domestically?

In general yes, imported insurance tends to cost more than conventional or domestically bought insurance, in particular with grey imports.

Grey imports, including American cars, tend to be more powerful than EU regulations would permit and may be left-hand drive for example. All of these things can, and often do, affect the cost of the premiums offered by insurance companies.

What's the best way to get cheap insurance for an import car?

Insuring a hugely powerful, tuned-up, Japanese imported car will always cost more than a small hatchback bought in the UK, but that doesn't mean you have to be swindled.

Simple things like keeping your car in a garage overnight rather than on the street will improve security and thus reduce your premiums.

Building up a decent no claims discount over time will also help.

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Last reviewed: 1 October 2021

Next review: 1 November 2021