Buyers Warned To Avoid ‘Bargain’ Foreign-Registered Vehicles

31 March 2008 Staff

Sales of cheap foreign-registered cars are putting UK drivers at risk, according to Parker’s - Britain’s leading experts in car buying advice.

Any car that stays in the UK for more than six months is legally required to be re-registered with the DVLA, but Parker’s has evidence that this isn’t happening and there’s now a black market where foreign-registered vehicles - typically from Poland, Bulgaria and France - are bought and sold.

These cars often would fail our MoT, could be stolen, are uninsurable for UK residents and must get a UK registration before they can be driven.

The Government currently has no record of how many cars are illegally being driven with foreign plates, as vehicle details are not recorded as they enter the country. That means there’s no way of knowing exactly how many cars are involved in this black market. As it stands, there’s no mechanism to track down and prosecute the owners.

These cars are always far cheaper than equivalent UK models, making them tempting for buyers on a budget. However, they’re left-hand drive, have no MoT, are uninsurable and must be certified by the VCA (Vehicle Certification Agency) to permanently stay in the UK. It’s often cheaper and easier for immigrants to sell these vehicles on, than to carry out the work.

Having no UK registration document makes these cars untraceable and attractive to criminals and drivers looking to evade speeding fines and the London Congestion Charge.

According to the DVLA and Association of British Insurers* the problem of non re-registration is on the rise, fuelled by added immigration from Eastern Europe.

Kieren Puffett, editor of Parker’s, said: “The Government has trouble putting a figure on how many immigrants there are in the UK, so it’s hardly surprising it can’t tell us how many illegal foreign cars there are here. The Government needs to take action now to start recording details as cars enter the country and get offending cars off our roads.”

He added: “Many owners of these cars will be thinking ‘What’s the point of registering a car with the DVLA?’, when there’s little chance that they will be caught out. Anyone stopped by the police can claim that the car has been in the UK for less than six months - there’s no evidence to prove otherwise. These cars should be seized and taken off our streets.”

Parker’s asked a number of Government bodies to give a figure as to how many foreign-registered vehicles there are in the UK and how many have been here longer than six months. None could give an answer

Parker’s has simple advice for anyone considering buying a car registered to another country: don’t. You may save a few pounds and maybe avoid paying a few speeding fines or the London Congestion Charge, but you run the risk of being prosecuted for more serious offences.

Only three other EU countries have a vehicle testing scheme as strict as our MoT (Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Slovakia), so the chances are that you could be driving a sub-standard car. Plus, as a foreign-registered car is impossible to insure if you’re a UK resident, you’ll be driving the car illegally. It could even be stolen, meaning you’re not the rightful owner anyway.

* Source: Crossing Borders Safely, ABI report, November 2007


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