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The majority of vehicles imported from the Middle East are left-hand drive as they are generally manufactured from European mainland manufacturers and conform to European mainland specification as there are no major car manufacturers in the Middle East.

It should be noted that there will not necessarily be a European Certificate of Conformity available.   If your car import from the Middle East to the UK was not originally registered in Europe, or made for the European market, a Certificate of Conformity will not exist. The only method of compliance will be through the IVA (SVA)/MSVA Test Scheme.

Specialised Shipping Services UK Ltd can provide all car import services, including car shipping, overland transportation, the UK import duty service, vehicle modification and UK registration.

We are still waiting to be appointed to register a Lykan Hypersport but we have registered a large number of vehicles originally manufactured for the Middle East market such as Ferrari Berlinetta, California, Gran Turismo, Challenge Stradale, 458 Speciale , Porsche 911, Panamera, Cayenne, Boxster, Pantera , Mercedes G. Wagon, Maybach, CLK, SLK, Audi Q8, BMW X4, FJ Cruiser etc

If you would like further information on importing a car from the Middle East to the UK, or on any of the vehicle legalisation and conversion services offered by Specialised Shipping Services, please phone 0118 933 2334 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

A Client’s Story - Martin Dickinson

‘Specialised Shipping have detailed knowledge and the expertise to understand all the nuances of the British car import requirements.’

‘My ultimate objective was to take a car to Spain, however, after consulting some English car import agents in Spain, they fervently recommended taking the car through the UK before taking it to Spain. Their view was that the English importation system was much easier to comprehend and less bureaucratic than the Spanish equivalent, especially when the car was coming from Saudi.

So I began by researching the import requirements for the UK, trawling through all the UK Customs and DVLA web sites to understand what I needed to do, what documents were required and how to go about taking a LHD car into the UK.

Why did I buy a car in KSA? I bought the car in KSA because it was considerably cheaper to do so, even after all the import and transport costs were included. It helped that VAG were giving substantial discounts in KSA on the car I wanted and the exchange rate meant further savings were to be had as well.; It was also impossible to buy a LHD car in the UK, so the only alternative was to try in Germany, where the car was manufactured or Spain where new car prices are extortionate. So having completed the research I then made certain when buying the car I obtained the relevant type approval certificate from the dealer in KSA, stating the car was to European type approval specifications, since this is what I understood was the magic ingredient to get the car into the UK without having it subjected to type approval testing.

I purchased the car and drove it sparingly for six months.  Why six months?  Because that is the time the UK customs require the car to be owned to be eligible for import free of UK taxes.

Six months later I shipped the car.  It went into a container and a couple of weeks later turned up in Tilbury.  Having got the car there, we found the requirements described in the web sites I had read 6 months earlier had all changed, and what we thought was a simple matter of completing the paperwork to tax and insure the car for the UK had turned into something more complex. 

I discovered that the car now had to go through UK type approval before it could be taxed & registered and the magic type approval certificate was a total waste of time.  So now I was left with a car on the docks which couldn’t be registered in the UK. Neither the shipping company I used, nor their UK import agents were of any use, nor were their suggestions.  So it was back to the internet to see who could help sort out the mess.

After several calls, even more emails and several quotations I opted for a local company, Specialised Shipping Services (SSS) based in Reading, who offered a very competitive price as well as an itemised breakdown, and good credentials. Their website also provided a wealth of information all in one place. In addition they could take care of absolutely everything necessary to have the car on the road and ready to drive away. They advised that I would need to submit the car for type approval and they would both prepare it for the test and arrange to complete it with the test centre, the register, tax and plate it. So the car was put on a trailer from the dock and delivered to Specialised Shipping Services.

SSS had the car ready and prepared for the type approval very quickly but could not apply for the test until customs sent their clearance form. SSS made changes to the lighting and had a new instrument display produced, since it had to display mph and the current one only had kph. This was substantially cheaper than a completely new instrument cluster and was beautifully crafted using laser etching and cutting and was undoubtedly equal in quality if not better than the original.

SSS certainly knew what they were doing. They helped reduce conversion costs without risking type approval failure or taking the easy route of simply replacing parts wholesale. But then the company was a family run business who took pride in the quality of their work and coming up with valuable cost saving alternatives.

Time was passing and another two weeks would elapse before the clearance papers were finally received from customs and could be taken to SSS, by which time we had flown back to the UK and been forced to rent a car in the absence of our own being ready. SSS now had to book a type approval test which can take many weeks to arrange, but their personal touch with the test centre allowed them to take advantage of a cancellation and arrange the test much sooner.

With a successful test out of the way, there was another wait for more papers to be sent so that registration and taxation could finally be completed and yet more time while the papers were produced, submitted and processed.   So finally after another couple of weeks the car was ready for the road, the only unfortunate part being that we had, in the meantime, returned to Saudi. SSS were most accommodating and arranged to keep the car until we returned several months later, when finally we were able to drive it away straight from the airport.

If I was going to do this again then I would go straight to SSS ( ) since they can provide an end to end service and have the detailed knowledge and expertise to understand all the nuances of the British car import requirements.

The second point is to allow more time than you think it will take to complete all the formalities. I did exactly the same 26 years ago, and back then it took 30 minutes to complete the customs clearance form and drive the car into the UK.’

We would like to thank Martin for taking the time to write about his car import experience from the Middle East and for giving us permission to publish it on this website. We hope this gives you some insight on the complexities of the shipping process.


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