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Can I drive a left-hand drive car in the UK?

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April 17, 2024
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Most cars, lorries and coaches being driven in Britain each day are right-hand drive models, but it is perfectly legal to drive a left-hand drive (LHD) vehicle if you happen to own one.

Left-hand drive cars are often imported from America or brought across the channel from Europe, but some come from even further afield. But many manufacturers have sold left-hand drive vehicles in the UK market. 

This is often the case for sports cars or limited-run models, where setting up a production line for right-hand drive variants is not economically viable. Examples of such models include pre-2014 Ford Mustangs, the Opel Manta, Fiat Barchetta and a variety of Ferrari models.

What sort of insurance do I need for a left-hand drive car?

If you own a left-hand drive car, you should get specialist left-hand drive car insurance. It is a legal requirement for all vehicles to be covered by at least third party cover, but you will get more protection if you opt for fully comprehensive cover.

left-hand drive

Photo by Serjan Midili on Unsplash.

Are left-hand drive cars more expensive to insure?

Some insurance companies will use the fact you have a left-hand drive car to ramp up the cost of your insurance. That’s not the case if you go to a specialist insurance broker like Adrian Flux. We will not look to increase the cost of your insurance. 

With over 50 years’ experience arranging insurance for American – including for imported American classics – and imported cars Adrian Flux can offer cover at a very competitive rate.

What other documents do I need for a left-hand drive car?

As well as your certificate of motor insurance, you will need a number of other documents to drive your imported left-hand drive vehicle in Britain.

Do I need to pay extra tax on my imported LHD?

When you register your newly imported LHD with HMRC, you’ll be told if and how much import tax you will have to pay.

Is it hard to drive a left hand-drive in the UK?

LHD cars were not designed for driving on the left-hand side of the road. It can take some getting used to and it makes sense to get some practise on quiet roads before you head out on a big trip.

Here are some tips that will help you drive safely and confidently.

Overtake with caution

You will have a restricted view of the road ahead, so keep a safe distance from the car in front. That way, you will get a better view of the road and you’ll be able to see when it is safe to overtake.

left-hand drive

Photo by Why Kei on Unsplash.

Convert your headlamps

Your headlamps should be adapted so they don’t dazzle oncoming traffic. You can buy cheap sticker conversion kits, but if the car is to remain in the UK, it makes sense to get them converted permanently at a garage.

If you don’t adapt your headlamps and you are stopped by police, you could face a fine. Your car will also fail an MOT if it needs one.

Remember the speed limits are in mph, not kph

The speedometer on your imported car will probably be in kilometres per hour rather than miles an hour. When you are driving on a 30-mile-an-hour road, you should be driving under 48kph. On a motorway where the limit is 70mph, the maximum speed is 110kph.

Check the size of the vehicle

Check the size of the LHD vehicle you are thinking about buying. If it’s an American car, its dimensions are often far bigger than those of British or European cars and you may have trouble parking it in your driveway, garage, outside your home or even in a multi-storey car park.

Watch out for drive-throughs

Pay booths and drive-throughs in Britain are designed to be used by right-hand car drivers. If you arrive at one and you don’t have a passenger to help, you may have to get out and walk around the car to make your payment. Alternatively having an instrument to help you collect food will ensure you don’t have to leave the vehicle to collect. 

Why would you own a left-hand drive in the UK?

There are several reasons as to why you would own a left-hand drive in the UK. For example, you may travel into Europe frequently for business or in your spare time, meaning that having a vehicle adapted to kilometres or for driving on the right side of the road may make life easier for you. 

Or perhaps you have moved from Europe to the UK and do not wish to sell your car after bringing it over with you. 

You may be after a specific car that only comes as a left-hand drive, such as an American muscle car. Whatever the reason, owning a left-hand drive vehicle in the UK is a unique experience and is sure to turn heads.

Do you have to register a left-hand drive car in the UK?

If you are importing a left-hand car in the UK permanently you must register the vehicle. Luckily the government website has simple instructions for registering a vehicle to fill in your forms and send supporting documents.  

However before you do this you must: 

Can I convert my car from a left-hand drive to a right-hand drive vehicle?

Converting a left-hand drive car into a right-hand drive is absolutely doable, but it can be a complicated and expensive process. It is not simply a matter of changing the steering wheel from one side to the other. 

Those who are looking to do so should look for a specialist who has done this conversion before to avoid any hiccups along the way. 

Get a fast no-obligation insurance quote on your left-hand drive 

If you have a left-hand drive car and you’ve had trouble finding insurance for it, or you think you’re paying too much, give the left-hand drive and imported car insurance experts at Adrian Flux a call for a fast no-obligation insurance quote. Call us on 0800 369 8590 or book a callback at a time that suits you.

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