The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Friday 17 February 2017

Importing a Motorhome from Belgium – A Process Checklist

Regular readers of this blog will not be surprised to read that as part of our decision-making process to import a motorhome, I did a large amount of internet research and created a few spreadsheets. One of the things I put together was a checklist of what I understood we needed to do to get an EU-sourced motorhome registered in the UK. I will write a more detailed narrative account of what was involved, but for starters here is a version of the original checklist, which I have updated after the fact, including a number of ‘post experience notes’, and to which I have added the actual dates upon which we completed each stage.


Stage No


Date completed


Order Import Pack from the Department for Transport



Choose motorhome, find a suitable dealer and do deal, including agreeing with dealer that they will provide original Certificates of Conformity and will either a) arrange export plates; or b) deliver



Sort out insurance for value of van whilst in transit (Post experience note: I wasn’t able to do this (although the need went away with Campirama offered to deliver). The one underwriter who used to offer this insurance no longer does and not even brokers who specialise in bespoke requirements could help)



Insure van with UK insurer based on VIN

(Post experience note: Not all insurers offer this. We were already insured with Safeguard, who do. They require registration within 30 days, but did indicate that they would extend that period if DVLA caused delays.)



Transfer money to dealer via foreign exchange broker

(Post experience note: We used UK Forex. This page on the MSE website provides helpful information on this subject.)



Take delivery of van. Get dealer to assist with filling in V55/4 (info is required from C of C, which, in our case, was in German)



Within 14 days of arrival, complete HMRC Notification of Vehicle Arrival (NOVA) form online, which will trigger the VAT bill. HMRC will apply a fixed exchange rate which is set month-by-month (see here for 2017 rates). (NB VAT is payable on base cost + extras)

(Post experience note: Following NOVA submission we received an auto-response saying more information was required and were requested to phone a stated number. It was the weekend, so we couldn’t do that until 30/1. As expected, the information required was proof of purchase price. We emailed a copy of the dealer’s invoice.)



Receive VAT bill (within a couple of days) and pay it



Obtain new speedo facia from Lockwood International in Leeds and fit

(Post experience note: Campirama did this for us, however, they erred by not removing the old facia first and thus the new facia didn’t light up correctly, so we ended up having to take the instrument panel apart to rectify)



Take vehicle to a garage which is: a) a MOT station; and/or b) VAT registered; and/or c) a registered company. Obtain a letter on letter head, stating MOT station number and registered address, stating that vehicle’s headlights, fog lights and speedo meet UK requirements.

(Post experience note: It’s important to use the wording on Page 4 of the ‘Application for Mutual Recognition – Motorhomes’ form. Our original statement from the garage didn’t make clear whether the speedo facia was retrofitted or factory fitted, so we had to obtain a further clarifying statement from the garage. This incurred a 3-day delay to the certification process).



Send the following to Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) via Special Delivery:

1) Original European Certificate(s) of Conformity for the vehicle

2) Garage evidence (per Point 10 above) that the vehicle meets the UK requirements in respect of headlights, speedometer and rear fog-light(s)

3) Completed ‘Application for Mutual Recognition – Motorhomes

4) Completed VCA Payment Form, authorising credit/debit card payment of £100



When the VCA has processed the application, they will send an Individual Vehicle Approval certificate. This is required for completion of the V267 (see Step 13 below).



Within 14 days of arrival of the vehicle in the UK, send the following to DVLA:

1) Completed Form V267 (declaration that a vehicle is new);

2) Completed Form V55/4 (application for first vehicle tax and registration of a new motor vehicle);

3) Original Individual Vehicle Approval Certificate from VCA (see Steps 11 and 12 above)

4) Invoice from dealer, stating date of delivery

5) Proof of identity of the person making application (e.g. photocopy of driving licence)

6) A cheque for £55 for the first registration fee and one for the cost of the first year’s road tax (Form V149 states the applicable rates of vehicle tax).



Receive V5 log book



Have number plates made up by a Government authorised number plate maker, and fit them to vehicle


16 Advise insurance company of registration number 16/2


Note that if you don’t already have a Government Gateway account with HMRC, then obtaining one should be point 1 or 2 on the checklist. I didn’t put this step on the list because both Mick and I already have accounts (it’s the same log-in as is used for Self Assessment Tax Returns).

Disclaimer: the import process is not immune from change and my research suggested there has been change over the last few years. Whilst this process worked well for us in January/February 2017, any part of it may change at any time and I won’t be keeping it up to date. 


  1. Wow that's a lot of stuff to do! What is the percent saving over buying it in the UK?

    1. Whilst the paperwork did have significant trials, the time it took wasn't excessive. The thing that would put me off doing it again would be the stress, rather than the admin.

      The saving question is a difficult one, particularly due to the vagaries of the exchange rate. There's a bit of comparison of apples with oranges too, as the vehicle we could have bought in the UK was right hand drive, but a lower spec. The end result for us was that we saved just over 11%. Had the exchange rate played ball, that would have been nearer to 17%.

  2. Interesting post, Gayle. A few years ago, I bought a fancy Miele bean-to-cup coffee machine .. I thought I could save a lot of money by ordering it direct from a German retailer. I did save money, but after a couple of months, it stopped working. Miele were very good, took it away and repaired it under warranty but they made a couple of sniffy comments about the situation and I rather think the retailer had sold me a demo or preowned machine .. so nowadays, I think I would rather buy from someone closer to hand..

  3. Gayle I will shortly be in the market for a LH drive Motorhome (almost all of my travelling will be done on the continent) do I really need to import the van or is it simply OK to use a van registered in another EU country?

    1. It's not something I looked into in any detail so I can't be of any help on that one. I would think the main issues would be the need for a residential address for registration purposes in whichever country you chose, and the need to obtain insurance in that country. I did briefly consider looking further at going down the route of buying and registering in Germany, but swiftly came to the conclusion that, for us, importing was the easier option.