Getting a vehicle in the UK
GETTING YOUR DRIVING/FUEL PERMIT
- Study Highway Code book ahead of time online at www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code.
- Take driver’s test as soon as possible.
PICKING UP YOUR POV
Track your POV at www.pcsmypov.com.
What to bring to the port of pick up:
- Vehicle title and registration
- Valid ID card
- PCS orders
- Vehicle Inspection Form
- Insurance certificate
- Customs paperwork.
Note: The Vehicle Processing Center will stamp one copy of customs paperwork and return it to you. Keep this copy as you will need it to register your vehicle in the U.K.
Requirements and tips:
- You can drive your POV in the local area on U.S. plates for up to 30 days.
- Arrange for an inspection test (MOT or SVA) depending on age of vehicle.
- Get light conversion completed if importing vehicle.
- U.S. “bull bars” are not legal in the U.K, remove them before shipping POV.
- If vehicle has tinted windows check with the MOD Police to ensure windshield and front windows meet U.K. requirements.
- Ensure insurance is updated to a U.K. policy.
- Ensure breakdown coverage is included in the policy or get this covered separately.
- Set a reminder for when road tax, MOT and insurance are due annually.
BUYING A CAR IN THE U.K.
You have the option to buy a new or used car from dealers and private sellers.
- Check www.gov.uk to see if the second-hand vehicle is taxed and has a MOT.
- Road tax is not transferable so obtain road tax before driving the vehicle.
- Vehicles cannot be driven on the road without a MOT (unless traveling to a MOT station for a pre-booked appointment).
Note: Failure to meet these requirements can result in fines, points on license or seizure of vehicle (depending on severity) if stopped by U.K. police.
THE VEHICLE INSPECTION PROCESS
The MOT requires all imported vehicles that are less than 3 years old to be inspected before registration and obtain a MOT Certificate. Vehicles over three years of age must be inspected yearly. Vehicles under 3 years old need an SVA test.
THE REGISTRATION PROCESS
Imported vehicles and those purchased in the U.K. must be registered with the British authorities at Pass and Registration within three working days after the POV’s arrival or purchase.
Good to know:
- After the light conversion and insurance update is done, take the paperwork to Pass and Registration who will then send paperwork for you to be exempt from first year of road tax and to get a license plate number.
- Update your insurance with new license plate number.
- 12 months after initial registration, return to Pass and Registration to pay for road tax, which you will no longer be exempt from.
Note: It’s always best to call your installation’s Pass and Registration office ahead of time to ensure you’re bringing all the necessary documents.
- Required to have a motorcycle endorsement on Driving/Fuel permit (USAFE Form 435).
- Must have a motorcycle endorsement on state driver's license.
- Must have taken the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's (MSF) course, Experienced Rider Course (ERC), Basic Rider Course (BRC) or equivalent training.
- You will not be authorized to register your motorcycle or ride it in the U.K. if your training is more than 3 years old.
- Required to purchase an EC approved helmet to use while riding in the U.K.
- Motorcycles have the same rules for MOT and road tax as cars.
Note: You can only take the MSF course, ERC, BRC or equivalent training if you have already acquired a stateside endorsement.
DRIVING IN THE U.K.
Key safety and driving rules:
- Driving in the U.K. is done on the left hand side of the road so remember to look right.
- Do not pass on the left dual carriageway or motorway.
- Passing is only permitted to overtake vehicles.
- Ensure you understand the no passing policy. This includes a 10 mile radius around RAF Lakenheath and any two lane undivided carriageways. Only exception is if all three following factors are present:
- Vehicle in front is traveling less than 30 mph.
- U.K. traffic laws allow passing on stretch of road you are on.
- It is safe to do so.
- Keep in mind that country roads are very dangerous in the U.K. due to them being narrow, having ditches to the sides, containing a few hard shoulders and hidden dips, giving limited sight around curves and hills that are unmarked and usually have no lighting at night.
- Tailgating and brake checking is illegal in the U.K.
- U.K. laws are very strict on driving over the speed limit. If caught by speed cameras or the U.K. police, large fines and points on your license will be given.
- DUI is a very serious offence that will result in a large fine and driving ban.
- It is illegal to use a cell phone and drive in the U.K. (this also includes on base).
- Avoid using a phone as a GPS unless it is mounted away from the driver.
- Be cautious using a GPS, radio, drinking or eating while driving. If your eyes leave the road, you are susceptible to a due-care-and-attention fine.
- Failure to maintain tires may lead to large fines, points on your license or seizure of vehicle.
- It is illegal to leave your vehicle unattended while it is running.
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