My import process, part 3: UK registration

Now I had the car on my driveway, I can start the process of getting it registered with the DVLA and getting a registration number so I can put number plates on it.

MOT test

For imports over 10 years old, an MOT test is all that’s required before registering the car. You can drive to and from the MOT test without numberplates as long as it’s pre-booked and you have your insurance (based on the chassis number) in place.

I gave the car a basic check over (tyres, lights, etc) and gave the battery a charge for a few hours – it had been sitting for a few months at this point and was flat.

I took all the car’s paperwork I had along with me, and stayed to wait while they did the test. Although MOT stations near the ports might be familiar with imports, my local one was not and we went through the start of the computerised process together to make sure it was all filled out properly.

A DVSA blog post was a useful reference for what the tester has to do:

Once the details were in the computer, he got on with the test and was pleased to tell me it was in great condition underneath and couldn’t fault anything on it. I went home with a fresh MOT certificate for the car.

DVLA registration

You can order forms from the DVLA to register the car (pick the “used vehicle import pack”), or they are all available now to download and print at home if you’re short on time.

Form V55/5 is the one to fill out, and V355/5 is the accompanying notes, and a leaflet explains what to do and send. At this stage you also pay the registration fee and the first VED (car tax).

The form has dozens of fields but many won’t be relevant to registering an import car – I called the DVLA and they advised to fill out as much as you have or know, and leave the rest. These are the ones I filled in. Check the notes and your own documents to ensure you get these right but these worked for me:

Country purchased from – Japan


2. Tax class – Private/Light Goods (PLG)

3. Period of tax applied for – 6 or 12 months

4. Registration fee – check the current ones but for imports there’s not a European CO2 figure so they go on engine size like pre-2001 cars. This was £265 for me for 12 months.

6. Make – Honda

7. Model – Stepwagon G

8. Type of body – MPV

9. Wheelplan – 2-Axle Rigid

10. Colour(s) – main primary colour (no fancy manufacturer paint names). White in my case.

15. Length (mm) – 4630. This is on the export certificate.

18. Number of seats (inc driver) – 8 for me, although there are 7-seater Stepwagons. If you don’t have a gap in the middle row, it’s 8!

22. Width (mm) – 1690. This is on the export certificate.

27. Year of Manufacture. I took this from the first registration on the export certificate

30. Date from which tax is to run. Remember VED is always in whole months and it will take a couple of weeks for the form to be processed – I put the first of the following month.

31. Type of fuel – Petrol.

32. VIN / Chassis number – This is on the export certificate.

33. Engine number – there should be a sticker on the offside of the engine block (left side as you stand in front of the engine), with a number that starts K20 or K24.

34. Cylinder capacity – This is on the export certificate, although in litres not cc. 1998 for a 2.0 litre, 2354 for a 2.4 litre.

46. Date of original registration. This is on the export certificate, but only the month and year, not a day. I left the day part blank.

57. Partial postcode of purchaser. The first half of my home postcode.

62/63. Personal details.

65. Mileage recorded on speedometer.

The registration document (V5) with the new registration number came back 12 working days later.

Last steps!

Now I had a V5, I could get some numberplates made up. I used Demon Plates who can supply UK legal plates in the Japanese 330mm x 165mm size – I’ve seen Stepwagons with conventional UK plates but the fit is a little awkward and I just prefer how the import size ones look!

Last task – update the insurance company with the new registration number. This didn’t have any admin fee and they issued new (digital) documents with the registration number added. It was showing as insured on askMID the following day.

Just under 4 months from winning the auction – at last I can drive our new car!