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Importing an RV from the USA into the UK

by John White

The following is a compilation of the procedures and documentation necessary for importing an RV from the USA into the UK. This information is believed to be correct at the time of writing (March, 2006). You are urged to consult the various references provided in order to determine the most current information.

First you must choose a shipping company or you could use an agent instead.

Shipping Companies:

Shipping Agents:

  • (have used and recommend these)
  • (have used these prior to the above)
  • Wainwright Bros & Co, Bowling Green House, 1 Orchard Place, Southampton, Hampshire SO14 3PX Tel: (02380 223671)

Insurance to cover the RV during the shipping will cost around 1.5% of the Value. Shipping costs will be between $110 and $150 per foot. The calculation is actually the Volume of the RV ie: Height x Length x Width = per Cubic foot or metre.

An agent acting on your behalf to deal with Customs and gain clearance costs between £40 (Brunswick) and as much as they can charge (others not named). If you wish to do the clearance yourself, you will need this form

Customs Duty and VAT calculations:

10% Customs Duty on the RV’s Value (or purchase price) + Shipping charges.

17.5% VAT on the RV’s Value + Shipping charges + Duty.

Once you have had the RV cleared from Customs, a Collection/Delivery note will be sent to you to allow you to pick up your RV from the Docks. You will receive the C&E 386 form (Customs clearance) usually by post within 3 to 5 days.

Legally, you are allowed one trip in the RV to either your home address, or a company to carry out the conversions necessary for UK use on the road. Providing of course that the RV is insured in the UK. Insurance companies will quite happily insure an RV for up to 2 weeks for this purpose based on the VIN number.

Once the RV has been converted to UK road use, it must either have an SVA (Single Vehicle Approval) if less than 10 years old or a class IV (4) MOT if older than 10years old. Having said that. A friend from Liverpool who imported a brand new RV went to the SVA and they said Motorhomes were exempt. I told him he'd better make sure.

To register the RV in the UK you will require the following:

  • The Original Title Document
  • The Original Bill of Sale for the RV
  • The C&E 386
  • Form V55/4 (new) or V55/5 (used), from DVLA
  • The MOT or SVA Certificate
  • Insurance Document
  • The correct fee for Licence for 6/12 months
  • The Registration fee of £38 (currently)
  • Documentation confirming your Name:
    Current DVLA paper driving licence
    UK/EU or foreign passport
    Marriage certificate
    Decree nisi/absolute
    Birth certificate
  • Documentation confirming your Address:
    Utility Bill valid within the last 3 months - gas, electricity, water, landline telephone
    Bank/Building Society statement valid within the last 3 months
    Medical Card
    Council tax bill for current year.

All the information necessary to import and register a Vehicle in the UK can be found here: