Right Driver

Can you own and drive a left-hand drive vehicle in the UK?

The majority of vehicles in the UK are right-hand drive as this is what makes sense for best driver visibility. There are some exceptions that are deliberately left-hand drive – some service lorries and vehicles which stop often with the driver having to get out onto the kerb – but almost all passenger vehicles and heavy vehicles are right-hand drive.

It is totally legal to drive a left-hand drive vehicle in the UK – you’ll have no doubt seen European tourists in their cars, and European lorries making deliveries.

Why would you own a left-hand drive vehicle in the UK?

There are several reasons:

  1. You cross into Europe frequently in your car and actually drive more kilometres there
  2. You want a specific car that only comes in left-hand drive (e.g. American muscle car)
  3. You have moved from Europe and don’t want to sell your car
They never made these in right-hand drive

Do you need special insurance?

You only need a standard car insurance policy, but you should le your insurance company know because driving a left-hand drive car comes with different risks; they should deduce this when you give them your registration number anyway. There are specialist insurance companies that deal with left-hand drive cars if you are having trouble with your regular insurance company.

There may be an extra premium for your vehicle being left-hand drive due to it being more tricky to find parts and to repair it (not all garages have the right equipment to deal with left-hand drive vehicles). Almost all left-hand drive vehicles are imported and parts may not be readily available or easy to get.

Overtaking and manoeuvring are more difficult in a left-hand drive vehicle because road layouts favour right-hand drive vehicles.

Do you need any paperwork for a left-hand drive car?

Register the vehicle with HMRC (customs) and DVLA. You may have to pay some import tax, especially if it’s a newer vehicle.

Get a vehicle approval:

Things to consider if you are importing a left-hand drive vehicle

  • Can you get it serviced near you?
  • Is the equivalent model available in right-hand drive (i.e. do you really need to buy left-hand drive)?
  • If it’s an American car, will it fit where you want to go (UK car parking spaces and multistorey car parks are not made for the types of large vehicles available in the USA)?
  • Have you left yourself some spare budget to change things like the headlight orientation and the speedo (for example, if it is in kilometres not miles)?
  • Do any other systems need to be recalibrated?
  • Have you spoken to a specialist left-hand drive importer to discuss any other pitfalls?

Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.

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