Types of Car Imports in the UK

When a UK resident imports a car from abroad, there may be two reasons for that. It may be because the model the buyer plans to import can be a special one and not officially sold here. Or the buyer simply wants to save money by buying the car overseas privately or through a car export company. In any case, importing a car in the UK falls into one of the 3 categories, viz. Grey Imports, Personal Imports and Parallel Imports.

Grey Imports

The meaning of a grey import is a car brought from abroad to the UK. Such cars have not been officially imported by their manufacturer or main dealer, and are usually sold via companies specialised in imports. These are usually enthusiast cars, like a Ford Mustang or a Subaru Impreza, but can also be hatchbacks, saloons or MPVs that stand for a saving over cars supplied officially.


  • They usually offer excellent value for money
  • Used cars coming from warmer climates have less chances of suffering from rust
  • Japanese imports generally feature more equipment than UK automobiles
  • You get rare models


  • You may get an only-left-hand drive car
  • Cars coming to Europe from outside have to undergo tests to prove their roadworthiness; however, a good importer makes sure that it’s already done
  • It’s often quite difficult to find the service history of a grey import
  • They often don’t come with a warranty and it may be hard to get replacement parts
  • Insurance for an import can be costlier than a similar type of UK automobile

Personal Imports

Personally imported cars and not imported through a professional importing dealer is a personal import and it’s nearly as straightforward as purchasing a standard car from a private seller. There are chances that the car has been registered with the DVLA and tested for roadworthiness, but you should be extremely careful while checking the history and condition of the car. When you personally import a car, it should be registered with the DVLA and should be certified for using on British roads.

Parallel Imports

Parallel imports are cars purchased in another EU country having specification similar or very close to an equivalent UK car.


  • You can get them at cheaper price
  • You can possibly beat UK waiting lists


  • Often have reduced resale value
  • You may get a less comprehensive warranty
  • Savings may be surpassed by exchange rate

Auto Export is in the Motor Industry for more than 12 years and has built a high reputation in vehicle sales and acquisition to clients across the world. Their team with vast knowledge and experience in the industry offer expert advice on all aspects of the international vehicle market. Visit their website to check how you can get a beneficial deal if you want to import a car.

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