Problems Importing your RV into the UK

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Well-known member
Oct 9, 2005
:'( Hi Paul (UK-RV) Just had some BAD news from Steve Hall who is in the process of registering his RV:-


Just had some bad news which might interest you. The DVLA requested to view my camper pre-registration and failed it on width. it is a standard 96" but they have said that the awning, door handle, heating exhaust etc push it over the 2.55metre width limit! May have to remove the awning to get a plate on it. DVLA are apparently having a crackdown on US campers just now and they also quoted a max lenght of 32ft. So i remain sitting by the phone waiting to hear if I can get out in the camper - rather scuppering my plans and costing a lot of money! This comes from Portsmouth DVLA. Hope your local office is friendlier



  Not good news at all. I may have to use my RV with it's Montana plates and export it to Euirope. I may be able to claim back the Duty & VAT.  ::)
Hi John

The Expedition is stated as being 102", but when measured only comes in at 99"

The door handle and main awning each have standard screw fixings, so will be fairly easy to remove for inspection and replace after.

The awnings above the slides are riveted into the side wall - I will have to look at that one.

BTW - the Steve Hall you mention didnt used to live in Torrevieja Spain (and now I think Sweden) did he ??

olley said:
Hi JSW according to the ARVE mag VAT and Duty are not refundable.? :mad: :mad:

:mad: Yes. So I understand.  :'(

Hi Paul. I will have to ask Steve if he is the one you are referring to? The controversy goes on. As I have supected for a LONG time. Corruption infiltrates everything. Give the right amount to the right person and the problems go away. Does anyone disagree?
:D Latest update from Steve :-

Good news. By stripping off ALL external extras - porch light, awning, power points, boiler cover, door handle, water locker etc etc- we got the width down to 2.54m and it is now registered! I've just got to get it all back on again. What a waste of time. Ridiculous to find that you can register something covered in Duck Tape!  We are leaving on the Bilbao ferry on Monday night. Can't wait

Have a good summer.


::) Looks like I will have to buy some more Duct tape and start stripping down. What a job in prospect.  ::)
Tom - hope you dont mind us having our own little UK thread here? ;)


What are you trying to register ?

Could you just take it for inspection and remove the bits IF it gets turned away and then re-submit.

Hi Mick

Which specific dealer is it you are worried about re back-handers etc ? - is it Dudleys of Oxford.

If so, it would be easy to turn-up at the Testing Station and kick up a stink if they refuse your vehicle after passing an oversized one the day/week before.

Imagine their (and Dudleys) reaction when you threaten to get the local newspaper down there.

I've followed your 'campaign' on the motorhomefacts forum and cannot see anything to be gained from writing/phoning/petitioning the Dept of Transport etc.

All that would happen (if they take any notice at all) is that even more restrictions would be put on vehicle sizes and construction.

Great, you may stop the dealers selling oversized coaches but YOU would still be limited to what you can already legally import today.......a lot of hard work on your part for no gain.

Assuming you intend to sell the vehicle at some point in the UK, you can advertise your street legal vehicle and make a point of showing that many of the dealer vehicles are illegal - that must be a good selling point to help shift your coach.

I would suggest you continue with your extensive research on buying and touring in the US - there is SO much to learn in order to make the most out of your trip.

When you get here, I would suggest you actually measure some of the coaches you are interested in - like ours, they may state 102" in width but are actually much less.

Good Luck


UK-RV said:
...hope you dont mind us having our own little UK thread here

Not at all Paul. In addition to providing some entertainment, some of the information will be useful for other brave souls who follow in your footsteps.

I might even buy some stock in the manufacturers of Duck tape.
UK-RV said:

What are you trying to register ?

Could you just take it for inspection and remove the bits IF it gets turned away and then re-submit.

Hi Paul. I am in the process of preparing my 1996 Newmar Mountain Aire 37ft 7inches for it's MOT (rain, rain and more rain plus holiday delays). It just (not counting the add ons) comes within the 100.45 inches. After the MOT, I will then have to submit it to the local (Sheffield) DVLA for registration.? ???

Yes. I coulld remove the bits. But there are Aluminium covered awnings on ALL the windows and the main awning is an electrically operated one. It is going to be a right pain to remove everything. If that is what I have to do to comply? Then that's what I will have to do. It is all down to the individual DVLA's interpretation of the rules/regulations. Perhaps I need an envelope with an enclosed gift when I make my submission to DVLA? ::)

We are planning to arrive, I think, at Southampton.

As we live just south of Bristol, I think it will be worth it for me to take a slight detour to Oxford !!  ;)


BTW - for anyone reading this who plans a US Tour, why not plan your return journey to the UK around March/April time.

Rather than paying high one-way flight costs to the UK (and then travel to the port), we are taking a nice leasurely transatlantic cruise home, for about the cost of the flights alone.

Hopefully, both the RV and us will arrive at Southampton docks at the same time.


Thanks for your comments. I wouldn't say that any 'one' dealer is taking BH's but there must be some sort of agreement between some dealers and the DVLC.

All I wish to achive is to be able, as a private importer to import into the UK an American RV that I can register without any problems.

Now surely common sense would state that any new vehicle currently being offered by a British dealer should be safe so, if I go to the USA,buy and import an RV that is currently being sold by a British RV dealer I shouldn't have any worries getting it registered with the DVLA?

I'm not asking for any favours and if the dealers have a special agreement or dispensation I would like to know.


A question came up here in conversation today ....

Are the American RVs sold by British dealers the exact same thing sold in the U.S., or are they maybe a little smaller to meet the size requirement? I previously posted UK dealership information for Monaco after I visited one of the Monaco factories and requested it. However, it didn't occur to me to ask what, if any, differences there were in coaches exported to the UK.


If they 'adapted' the RV for UK use, they could also do the electrics while they're at it.  ;D ;D

I would take a guess that for every US Manufacturer, there are perhaps 5 of each of their RVs in the UK - it just wouldn't make commercial sense for them to make ANY amendments at all.

Im sure you are up to speed with the problem being discussed here......

Our Maximum Legal Width to drive on UK roads in just under 100.4".

Some private individuals have tried to register their RV only to be refused as the vehicle is too wide.

BUT, there are some dealerships in the UK who manage to register these 'wide' RVs.



.....All I wish to achive is to be able, as a private importer to import into the UK an American RV that I can register without any problems.....

Well thats easy - just keep within the measurements as CURRENTLY stated by law.

Remember, if you plan to stay out of the UK long enough to avoid the taxes etc, you can't even be sure the law will be the same on your return as when you left.

Unfortunately, there is a danger that over exposure of existing issues may result in things getting even more difficult for the RVer in the UK.

Just think what an eager civil servant pen pusher could do with Road Tax on an RV if they decided to align with similar sized vehicles (lorries etc).

I honestly feel you should focus your efforts on finding the perfect RV for your personal circumstances, rather than worry too much what the dealers are doing.

Remember, you will be saving a HUGE amount over the cost of buying in the UK, so you should be celebrating.

Just imagine yourself travelling the US (in your UK legal RV) and reading on the forum that the length/width restrictions have been enforced and all those dealers are left with huge numbers of RVs they cant sell.  ;D


UK-RV said:
Remember, you will be saving a HUGE amount over the cost of buying in the UK..


Could you give us some idea of the comparative pricing of the same RV bought in the U.S. vs in the UK (same make, model, year, options, etc)? A factor would be fine e.g. 1.5X.

:D That of course is not taking into consideration the shipping charges and the Duty & Taxes that you MAY have to pay if you manage the suggested method of doing so. The true cost (if not?) would be around ?158,000 mas o minos.  ;D ;D ;D

;) Still, a BIG saving though. IMHO.  ;D
Thanks Mick and John. Those differences aren't as large as I expected. How much would you expect to be able to negotiate off the UK dealer prices, which I assume include VAT? (MSRP here does not include sales tax).

Not sure about this thought perhaps Tom could shed some light but could the UK dealer get the new RVs cheaper than the MSRP if buying direct from the manufacturer? Just a thought?? :)

If they're an official dealer recognized by the manufacturer, they'll be paying a lot less than the MSRP. How much less I don't really know, but possibly around 35%. Of course, they'd have to pay shipping and import duty on top of that.
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