I’m importing a car from Guernsey. Do I get insurance with the Guernsey number plate or ask them to leave it blank until I get the new number plate?

guernsey number plate

Our reader is bringing a car to the UK from Guernsey with a Guernsey number plate. They need to alert the (Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency) DVLA in order to tax and re-register it. But they want to know if they can get the car re-registered before insuring it. Or should they ask the insurer to leave the registration number blank and then register it.

This is one of those puzzles where there is no right answer. You should be able to do things in a logical order. But unfortunately, the way things work there is no right order if they want to continue driving the car.

The easiest way

Because of this, the easiest way to go about this would be for them to accept they can’t drive the car until the DVLA has issued it with a new registration number. To do this, they need to keep the vehicle off public roads.

To get a vehicle re-registered after importing it, you need proof of vehicle approval. This shows the vehicle is approved to be driven on UK roads.

You will need evidence of the date you imported the vehicle to the UK. And you should supply the original registration certificate from when you lived abroad (in this case Guernsey). The DVLA should then be able to register the car.

Once you’ve received the new registration from the DVLA, then you’ll be able to insure the car. In turn this will enable you to tax it.

guernsey number plate
Having a Guernsey number plate needn’t be a big problem but your car must be insured (Picture©Wikimedia Commons/Dickelbers)

Do you need insurance to tax a car?

Judging by our reader’s email, they’re already driving the car around on its Guernsey number plate. If you want to drive a car on UK roads, it must have valid tax, MOT and motor insurance.

But when you actually tax a car, you don’t have to send insurance details in. However, the DVLA will check and be able to tell if a car is insured because it will appear on the Motor Insurance Database (MIB). It’s the same story with the MOT.

Do insurers need the registration number?

An insurer won’t be able to leave the registration number blank on the motor insurance. If it did the car wouldn’t appear on the MIB. If it’s not on the MIB, should the police want to check your car using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras, the car will come up as uninsured and as the owner you could be in big trouble.

What to do?

The answer in this case is to insure the car with its Guernsey registration number. Doing this will enable you to have the car taxed. This means the car be driven legally on UK roads. Once that’s been done, you can apply to the DVLA to have the registration number changed to a UK one. As soon as you get that, you must inform the insurer.

Unfortunately, most insurers are likely to charge you for changing the car’s details. Although it’ll take someone seconds to type in the new registration number and check the paperwork, they’ll probably charge you an ‘admin fee’ of around £35-£50 for the privilege.