Author Topic: US resident buying/registering UK vehicle  (Read 1270 times)

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Offline Macman53

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US resident buying/registering UK vehicle
« on: February 06, 2018, 03:49:43 AM »
I’m a US resident and I visit the UK annually on holiday for a period of about 3 weeks, split between Scotland and England. As such I end up doing 2 car rentals each trip.

Instead of this I’d like to buy, register, MOT my own vehicle. I can easily have it kept at the residence of a friend.

If I am correctly informed all of that is legal. The question becomes finding insurance. I’ve found companies that provide non-resident coverage for such purposes but typically only for EU/EEC or Commonwealth residents.

Anyone know if US residents can get non-resident auto insurance and if so, where?



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« Last Edit: February 06, 2018, 04:31:53 AM by Macman53 »

Offline camoscato

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Re: US resident buying/registering UK vehicle
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2018, 06:49:01 AM »
I'd check with USAA. I don't know that they definitely will do it, but they're used to insuring people around the world, so they're not a bad bet.

Offline KFdancer

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Re: US resident buying/registering UK vehicle
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2018, 08:57:14 AM »
It's legal but wouldn't be worth it.  Insurance will be hundreds of pounds a year.  And you'll end up spending an entire day of one of your days holidays having the vehicle serviced and the MOT.  And cars really need to be driven.  If it sits there for 11 months of the year, it's going to need some serious TLC each year.

Just my 2p.  :)

Online larrabee

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Re: US resident buying/registering UK vehicle
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2018, 09:37:28 AM »
I agree with KFdancer, it’s not going to be cheaper nor is it going to be more convenient.
March 28th 2013-Moved to UK, husband on spouse visa.Oct 20th 2015-Applied by mail for FLR(M).Feb 1st 2016 FLR(M).March 7th 2018 ILR. YAY! March 21st NCS&JCAP appointment.

Online jimbocz

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Re: US resident buying/registering UK vehicle
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2018, 11:24:54 AM »
Perhaps you could pay towards the expenses of your friend's car and borrow that when you visit?  They could add you to the insurance.
Even then, I don't see the point.  A rental car is going to be cheaper and less trouble anyway.  Why do you rent two separate cars for Scotland and England?  I've never Heard of a restriction for driving a rental car from one to another. 

Offline durhamlad

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Re: US resident buying/registering UK vehicle
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2018, 03:00:27 PM »
Perhaps you could pay towards the expenses of your friend's car and borrow that when you visit?  They could add you to the insurance.
Even then, I don't see the point.  A rental car is going to be cheaper and less trouble anyway.  Why do you rent two separate cars for Scotland and England?  I've never Heard of a restriction for driving a rental car from one to another.

In 2013 we rented a car in England for 6 weeks and drove it also into Scotland, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Wales.  The only place we had to pay extra insurance were the days in Ireland and the rental car company took care of that for us, providing an ROI insurance certificate covering those particular weeks.

Since retiring in 2010 we have traveled a LOT, leaving our car for months at a time where our son would drive it for a few days a month. I think it is better for a car to be driven every few weeks.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2018, 03:02:06 PM by durhamlad »
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Offline Macman53

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US resident buying/registering UK vehicle
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2018, 03:35:28 PM »
First, not to be rude to anyone but please give me a bit of credit for having done some research.

...the using a friend’s car - I house sat for some folks in Scotland a few years ago and they were happy to let me use their car but their insurer would not add me as a US resident. I’ve read multiple forums of others with same experience. Even family from US visiting family in UK were not able to be added to the UK family’s insurance. A good idea but so far I’ve not found a single case where it worked.


...of course there is no restriction driving a vehicle between Scotland and England. I fly into London, go north to Scotland by train for a couple of weeks. I then return to London for a few days, go into southern England for several days before returning to London to fly home. I simply find it easier to rent in Scotland and separately when leaving London to go south. I find it more convenient to my purpose. If I owned a vehicle I  would likely do things differently.

Absolutely I would not want the car to just sit. It should be driven, at least occasionally. From what I’ve found it would be easy for my friend, a UK resident who keeps the vehicle to be added as an insured driver and use the car once in a while. Not so the other way round.

I’m also thinking I could pay (“contribute to their expenses”) them to spend the day required to deal with the annual MOT.

I’m not convinced this is the most logical or convenient thing to do - it’s an option that I’m exploring. I appreciate not everyone would choose to do this, some will see it completely illogical - fine, but my original question stands unanswered - can a US resident get non-resident auto insurance in the UK and if so where?  That others would not choose to do this does not make the question any less relevant.


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« Last Edit: February 06, 2018, 03:37:15 PM by Macman53 »

Online jimbocz

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Re: US resident buying/registering UK vehicle
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2018, 03:56:13 PM »
It's good that you'll be visiting Scotland, I think you will enjoy it up there.

Offline Macman53

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Re: US resident buying/registering UK vehicle
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2018, 04:03:25 PM »
It's good that you'll be visiting Scotland, I think you will enjoy it up there.

Thanks! I know I will. It’s my 4th trip there since 2014. So far I’ve spent about 7 weeks there total. Love Scotland.


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Offline lyonaria

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Re: US resident buying/registering UK vehicle
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2018, 04:14:27 PM »
I don't know if you can have a UK car insurance policy as a full time US resident. The one way to find out would be to call a British car insurance agency and ask. If you use Skype you should be able to call one of their 1800 numbers for free. It will probably be very expensive (comparatively to a UK driver) if you are able to do this.

The usual. American girl meets British guy. They fall into like, then into love. Then there was the big decision. The American traveled across the pond to join the Brit. And life was never the same again.

Offline KFdancer

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Re: US resident buying/registering UK vehicle
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2018, 04:17:53 PM »
JFKimberly may know as she bought a vehicle when she was here on a visitors visa before applying for a settlement visa.

As I said before, it was just my 2p.  To give context to my 2p:

When I relocated here, I was on a work visa.  No partner or anyone to help get me insured.  When I get my annual insurance policy, I have to answer questions such as "have you always lived in the UK?" and then "on what day did you become a resident of the UK?"  When I was fresh off the boat, my insurance was substantial.  Eye-wateringly high.

I think your own experience says a lot.  You were unable to even be a named driver on your friend's policy.  It will be infinitely more difficult to get your own policy.  But no, I don't think it will be impossible to do.  I just think it won't be beneficial financially.

Offline Macman53

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Re: US resident buying/registering UK vehicle
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2018, 04:24:34 PM »
I don't know if you can have a UK car insurance policy as a full time US resident. The one way to find out would be to call a British car insurance agency and ask. If you use Skype you should be able to call one of their 1800 numbers for free. It will probably be very expensive (comparatively to a UK driver) if you are able to do this.

Good idea. I use Skype but also have a UK mobile I keep active here in the States. I call the UK by both frequently. I’ve emailed a couple of companies but so far they’ve ignored the question by simply saying they won’t quote me without being a UK resident.

Doesn’t mean it can’t be done, just they won’t do it. Have to keep searching I guess.


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Offline Macman53

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Re: US resident buying/registering UK vehicle
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2018, 04:33:06 PM »
JFKimberly may know as she bought a vehicle when she was here on a visitors visa before applying for a settlement visa.

As I said before, it was just my 2p.  To give context to my 2p:

When I relocated here, I was on a work visa.  No partner or anyone to help get me insured.  When I get my annual insurance policy, I have to answer questions such as "have you always lived in the UK?" and then "on what day did you become a resident of the UK?"  When I was fresh off the boat, my insurance was substantial.  Eye-wateringly high.

I think your own experience says a lot.  You were unable to even be a named driver on your friend's policy.  It will be infinitely more difficult to get your own policy.  But no, I don't think it will be impossible to do.  I just think it won't be beneficial financially.

Thanks! I’m hoping to one day move on a work visa too. At present, having visited the past three years (with a 4th visit and future ones upcoming) I just know I’ve spent enough on rentals to have bought my own vehicle. As being added to a UK resident’s policy (friend) doesn’t seem to work, I thought I’d approach the problem from the other direction. Doesn’t mean it’s smart thing to do, or that it will even work but no harm in exploring.


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Offline KFdancer

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Re: US resident buying/registering UK vehicle
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2018, 04:39:52 PM »
Thanks! I’m hoping to one day move on a work visa too. At present, having visited the past three years (with a 4th visit and future ones upcoming) I just know I’ve spent enough on rentals to have bought my own vehicle. As being added to a UK resident’s policy (friend) doesn’t seem to work, I thought I’d approach the problem from the other direction. Doesn’t mean it’s smart thing to do, or that it will even work but no harm in exploring.


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Absolutely no harm in exploring.  But expect insurance to be well over £1,000 a year for a very tiny engine.   ;D

You can get cars here VERY cheap.  Insurance... not so much.  At least not until you've been here awhile.   :)

Offline ksand24

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US resident buying/registering UK vehicle
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2018, 04:46:26 PM »
Thanks! I’m hoping to one day move on a work visa too. At present, having visited the past three years (with a 4th visit and future ones upcoming) I just know I’ve spent enough on rentals to have bought my own vehicle.

Even though you’ve spent a lot on rentals, it’s what, a few hundred pounds per year for a 3-week rental?

If you buy a car and keep it in the UK, you’re looking at:
- maybe £200 per year for a service and MOT
- anywhere from about £100 and £550 per year for car tax (depending on tax band)
- maybe £1,000-2,000 per year for insurance
- plus the cost of any repairs needed

You could probably get a few years’ worth of rentals for the cost of keeping a car in the UK for just 1 year (and that’s after you’ve bought the car).

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« Last Edit: February 06, 2018, 04:48:08 PM by ksand24 »