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How to import a Boxster from the US to the UK


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IMPORTING A PORSCHE BOXSTER (986) FROM THE US INTO THE UK

After all the help I received on the RennTech forum that helped me to get my 986 imported from the US into the UK, I figured the least I could do would be to compile an account of the process and experience, so here goes…

The shipping process

This was very straightforward once my wife had performed extensive research with the BBB and other online forums dedicated to shipping overseas – we finally picked Southern Winds International (www.SouthernWindsInternational.com). They delivered a 40ft container to our house in Michigan, packed up our house, and then loaded the Boxster in last (need to have a very small amount of gas in the tank – enough to get on and off the container and any inspections that may be necessary).

I would personally not trust RORO (Roll On Roll Off) shipping - I have vivid images of my pride and joy floating in the Atlantic!

As far as paperwork goes, I just needed to send them my clear title and they processed it through US Customs and returned it to me. I sent a completed UK form C104A to the receiving agent on the UK side who processed it through UK Customs (now HMRC).

Note: I found that using a ‘Print to PDF’ utility was very useful for completing forms and then emailing them to whomever needed them.

Note: You must have lived in the US for at least 12 months, AND owned the vehicle for at least 6 months in the US, and be able to prove both facts – otherwise you will pay 17.5% of the vehicle’s value in tax, and another 10% in import duty!

At the port of entry into the UK, customs may choose to inspect your shipment/vehicle and/or X-ray it (which will cost extra) – luckily that was not the case for me, and the container was delivered to my garage in Exeter (UK) a week or so after arrival at port – the whole shipping process took approximately 6 weeks door to door.

You will receive a form C & E 388 from HMRC which you will need to keep for the registration process.

Technical Changes to The Porsche Boxster (986)

My 986 was manufactured in Finland in 1998, but for US export – hence the following changes (all lighting related) were necessary:

Headlights – I purchased a pair from www.ebay.co.uk for 50 pounds (approx. $100 at time of writing) – see the owner’s manual for instructions on removal of the headlamp unit (very straightforward).

Note: If your headlights are Litronic then you will need to have either self-levelling headlights or suspension, and washers for the headlights – if you do not you will not pass the SVA test (more later). Also, you have to actually replace the headlights – stick on reflectors will not cut it.

Rear Fog Lights – in the US, the driver’s side (Left) has the rear fog light wired in, although there is a wire going to the right hand side, it is not powered. In the UK, either the driver’s side (Right) or both rear fog lights must be working. I followed the instructions at Rear Fog Lights.

Side Marker Lights – in the US these are just that side markers, but in the UK they need to be indicator repeaters – I missed this and failed my SVA test the first time around. Subsequently I followed these instructions: Side Marker Lights. I tried the crimp style butt splices and shrink tubing, but found that soldering the splices and wrapping with electrical tape seemed more solid a connection. In addition, on the passenger side of the car I found I needed a pigtail as the wires were so tight in that area.

Note: For later model (987) Boxsters, I believe that there is a setting in the DME to change the function of the marker lights to indicator repeaters.

Legal Requirements for driving a vehicle in the UK

Disclaimer: This is what I believe to be true at the time of writing, and I cannot claim any responsibility if anything here is incorrect. Also, I don’t profess to any professional legal knowledge.

You need the following (detail to follow):

- Insurance

- MOT Certificate (an MOT test pass)

- Minister’s Approval (an SVA test pass)

- Vehicle Registration

- Car Tax

- And to actually drive you need a driver’s license!

Insurance

There is a ‘Chicken and Egg’ or ‘Horse and Cart’ (which ever analogy cranks your handle!) scenario in regard to getting insurance for an imported vehicle. Basically, you need a vehicle registration normally in order to get insurance, but you can’t get a registration without passing the MOT and SVA tests, both of which normally necessitate you driving the vehicle in the first place! There is a get-out – you can get insurance on just a VIN, but most insurers will only provide this ‘cover note’ for 10 days (not enough time to get the tests and registration done. I managed to find an insurer who would give me 20 days coverage which was just enough time. I went through MCE Insurance (www.mceinsurance.com) who are insurance brokers – they got me a policy through Norwich Union.

Note: There are 2 main types of insurance you can get: 3rd Party Fire & Theft, and Comprehensive – The former gives the minimum coverage, the latter more complete coverage.

Note: In the UK, insurance gets cheaper the longer you go without making a claim (the no-claims bonus) – most UK insurers will not except foreign no-claims, but I managed to get my 7 years transferred to the UK through MCE.

MOT (Ministry Of Transport) Certificate

This is the basic roadworthiness test that gets done annually for all cars over 3 years old.

Note: You can do the MOT after the SVA test, but it is wise to do the MOT first, as any problems can be identified early on and fixed before the SVA – the MOT costs 50 pounds, whereas the SVA costs 158 pounds (retest is 32 pounds – I needed it!).

Note: You are allowed to drive to and from an MOT (or SVA) test appointment (as long as you take proof of the appointment with you) without having a valid UK registration. You may get stopped by the police (I didn’t), but I printed off this info from the DVLA website just in case (www.dvla.gov.uk).

SVA (Single Vehicle Approval) Test

First you need to determine where your nearest VOSA test station is located: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Dl1/Directorie...tacts/DG_069669

Next you need to complete and mail the SVA application with proof that you have lived in the US for more than 12 months, proof that you have owned the vehicle for more than 6 months, and payment to the DVLA in Swansea: http://www.vosa.gov.uk/vosacorp/repository...%20Dec%2007.pdf

Your local SVA office will contact you to set up an appointment. Assuming you pass the test, a Minister’s Approval Certificate will be issued to you.

Vehicle Registration

First find out where your local DVLA office is located: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Dl1/Directorie...cts/DG_10012974

Next, complete form V55/5 and take it along with the following to the DVLA office (you can mail it, but I preferred to be safe):

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring/Buyin...icle/DG_4022583

It will cost you 50 pounds for an initial registration along with 180 pounds for car tax (vehicle excise duty) which you pay annually.

Eventually you will get a notice of what your registration number is in the mail (the actual registration document arrives a bit later). When you have your plate number, you can then get plates made up – until quite recently anyone could knock out a plate, but now only an authorized dealer can do this: http://www.dvla.gov.uk/vehicles/search.aspx?ext=dg

I originally went to Halfords (a High Street motoring store in pretty much every UK town) and got plates in under 20 minutes. I had to get a mount for the front bumper as I only used to have a plate on the rear in the US – the local Porsche dealership sold me the plate mounting hardware for 5 pounds (cheapest Porsche part I’ve ever gotten!). One problem – a UK plate is very large! It would not fit between the bumperettes. I tried removing the bumperettes, but these ugly metal brackets protrude from the bumper. So, I got a rear plate made to US size (12x6 inches) at www.craigsplates.com. Also see this posting: http://www.renntech.org/forums/index.php?s...p;hl=bumperette

Car Tax

Your Car Tax sticker is sent with your registration notice. (I also picked up a magnetic tax disc holder at Halfords for 2.99 pounds.)

Driver’s License

You can drive on your US Driver’s License for up to 1 year from entry into the UK – you must pass the UK driver’s test (written and practical) before that year is up, or you will have to get a provisional UK license and wear attractive ‘L’ plates on your car, and have someone else in the car who holds a full UK license and is over 21 - until you pass.

Note: This test is not easy – people who have been happily driving in the US for a LONG time have failed multiple attempts at a UK driving test.

As I already held a UK driver’s license this doesn’t apply to me, although I did need to surrender my ‘poster’ sized paper driver’s license for the new ugly pink photo cards.

So, I am finally driving around fully legal in the UK – I did download all the UK speed camera locations onto my TomTom, and I am using a radar detector as backup (they are currently still legal to use in the UK as far as I know).

Hope this write up can be of use – feel free to contact me with any questions or corrections!

Cheers,

Bob

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Great news and write up for all to see....

A question for you, as the car was taxed and registered in the US surely you could have driven it using this for a period of time whilst you deal with the import. In my opinion would be no different than a German driving his car across from Europe on vacation then heading back after. I suppose the trick here would be to get a US insurance company to provide cover for the UK.

With shipping did you disconnect the battery or if not did the keys go with the car?

Edited by Nick_USA
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My one comment would be about your rear number plate. Are size, font and spacing of letters correct?? Do you have a "BS" (British Standard) stamp in the bottom right cormer i think it is?? I know you said the overall size was smaller, but did this affect your lettering?? Although many guy's over here with 'private' plates change the font, spacing and letters to make names etc, the Police can be picky and it gets expensive if caught! And they get more picky if you have a nice car.........

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Great news and write up for all to see....

A question for you, as the car was taxed and registered in the US surely you could have driven it using this for a period of time whilst you deal with the import. In my opinion would be no different than a German driving his car across from Europe on vacation then heading back after. I suppose the trick here would be to get a US insurance company to provide cover for the UK.

With shipping did you disconnect the battery or if not did the keys go with the car?

Good question about the insurance, however I think it might be hard to find a US insurer that would cover the UK - maybe I'm wrong about that. However, if the import is classified as a temporary import then different rules apply - see this post:

http://www.renntech.org/forums/index.php?a...sult_type=posts

As far as the shipping goes I gave them a key - I think they must have disconnected the battery as I had to input my radio code again.

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My one comment would be about your rear number plate. Are size, font and spacing of letters correct?? Do you have a "BS" (British Standard) stamp in the bottom right cormer i think it is?? I know you said the overall size was smaller, but did this affect your lettering?? Although many guy's over here with 'private' plates change the font, spacing and letters to make names etc, the Police can be picky and it gets expensive if caught! And they get more picky if you have a nice car.........

See the link from the DVLA below:

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring/Buyin...ates/DG_4022573

And also:

http://www.dvla.gov.uk/vehicles/number_pla...tion_marks.aspx

Basically, you are allowed a standard plate, a large plate or a 4x4 plate - however, if your car is an import and is physically restricted in being able to mount one of these 3 options, then as long as you adher to the letter size and spacing you can get a plate made to fit.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Nice work and very thorough- thanks bwillis! :notworthy:

I have received Custom's approval now for permanent UK import of my USA MY03 996 C2

HMRC just provided me with a CE388. So next is SVA testing! :help:

I have a couple issues with questions I hope you can maybe help with.

Questions:

1) Do headlights really have to replaced? I have OEM Bi-Xenon Lithronic Headlights on the facelift 996. These do have headlight washers and self-leveling. On 966 at least there is a touring option adjustment switch inside to flatten the beam so the rise of the low beam does not lift or flare to the right. However it only flattens the low beam for RHD driving. I was told by LHD Porsche, Nottingham that is all that should be required. But ... the USA Bosch headlights are DOT not 'E' rated, like EU LHD (ROW) cars. Did they check yours for 'E' rating? Complete new Lithronics would be a disappointing requirement, (I can't find these on ebay for £50! )

2) Also the Key remote radio frequency for USA cars is different than UK cars. The USA frequency is outside the allowed UK band. Was this checked? Instead of changing the system...errr... the solution could be as easy as removing the battery and 'mhz' mark from the key. The Alarm and immobilizer function required in the SVA test works without the remote. But it's great if you can help with any information.

:lightbulb: On the other information here is bit more I can add from my experience:

For USA citizens with USA passport and a valid USA Drivers license, I think it can be a little easier.

Right now I m still driving in the UK on USA plates. I keep it insured with USA company with office in London for USA citizens, like myself. The UK allows temporary imports for 6 mos than be extended to 8. But I imported into Zebruggee Belgium a year ago, on temporary as USA Citizen, and ferried it to UK after a nice LHD drive through NL! The temporary importation rules into the EU in Belgium allow for 2 years and so UK temporary registration is superseded and UK rules for temps are not enforceable. I verified it with DVLA before doing and again onc eI did to be sure. Then I had it tested twice! Last month I was stopped at a Police road block. There were 8 officers checking all cars and the the DVLA was there too! :eek: Seeing my USA reg they seemed excited as if stopping me I might have just made their day! So they took my VIN and started making checks, calls etc. They called the DVLA officers over and showed them my EU paperwork and insurance, registration etc. They shrugged their shoulders shook their neads at the officers who had to wave me on my way! "Have a nice day!" and they went back to catching road tax dodgers! :jump: Phew....I was a bit shaken though! Then a few weeks later it happened again. I was double parked at M&Ss collecting our Christmas dinner. A PC not only wrote a ticket but waited pacing back and forth next to the car for me to return! :blink: That wasn't easy! "Is there a problem officer?" He took my details & the VIN, and examined the paperwork, made some calls. He then asked to see my M&S receipt. He smiled and took the ticket back and sent me on my way!

Legal or not enough of that! So I guess its time to get it right, and pay my fair dues like everyone else.

- MOT Certificate (an MOT test pass)

- Minister’s Approval (an SVA test pass)

- Vehicle Registration

- Car Tax

...

- Parking Tickets

- Speed Cameras

Regarding shipping: . Are you aware new car mfrs, use RORO (Roll on Roll Off) and that there are far more insurance claims for transport damaged cars in containers. There is no comparison to RoRo transatlantic automobile transport. My source is experience and speaking with USAA insurance. They handle 99% worldwide auto insurance for American Diplomats and Military, and their families both in the USA and abroad. They are insuring hundreds personal vehicles being shipped all over everyday. Hands down they recommend RORO. My agent in London told me countless horror stories of complete HDI write offs to expensive luxury cars improperly loaded into containers. So its not really like it seems you might imagine! It's the containers that often end up in the sea! Containers are stacked on deck, then handled with cranes by operators who do not know your pride and joy is inside. It could be full of pajamas for all they care. Then these containers are moved about on the docks by trucks, often banging them about in the rush to get unloaded. They sometimes do end up on their side! (Imagine there are 4 cars inside!) There normally are! Known in the industry as (stack-em and rack-em) unless someone like you is bring their household over with a car and need their own container. Normally that is not the case. Cars can loaded 2 to a container for 2x premium. But the way containers are handled with cranes at the docks leaves much more room for damage. Marine insurance is higher for containers than Roro.

On RORO every car is very carefully inspected and logged, then they are driven below deck by bonded drivers and individually secured. When you collect the car you get to walk around it with an agent to inspect it. If there is any scratch or mark not there when it was loaded its covered. I have not heard of damage here. Its like a huge ferry, with no hotel or passenger area on board. There are no families, individual and truck drivers walking in between the cars and lorries carrying and dragging their luggage and duty free & scrapping along in between cars as they go! (Twice on ferries to Europe I have had £1500 in paint damage from these careless jerks, when stuck having to park by one of entrance doors on the car deck!)

Regarding insurance for transporting cars. I would highly recommend checking with your car insurance company first, before paying the very high premium for Marine Insurance to the booking agent. If there is damage getting settlement from Marine Insurance gives more red tape and paper chasing and run around than someone could imagine. It can take years to settle a claim if at all, unless the ship is lost (sinks)! Then a claimant will eventually get settlement. The same is covered under most auto policies though, so check it out first. I waived marine insurance and put the car on my auto policy for fraction of the cost of marine insurance. It went on the normal fire, theft and comprehensive part of the policy with $100 excess. Driving insurance did not take effect until I received the car. Claims on comprehensive (fire and theft) insurance (on USA policies) for damage while not being driven, do not increase policy premiums or effect 'no claims' as collision claims do. 3rd Party in the USA is called 'Liability' and separate.

BTW: USAA worldwide insurance. USA citizen are eligible who are or has been in the USA military or govt employed or related to by birth or marriage to someone who is or was. You can check with www.usaa.com There is an office in London. Car insurance is quite cheap as long as the same model is available in LHD in the USA,.... if not, then it costs twice as much!

Hopefully with all the information readers can now get through RennTech now the process is much easier for others doing this!

Cheers!

:renntech:

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