Importing a car into the UK...
Ok less of an interesting post coming up, unless you’re doing a similar thing yourself... anyway this one is all about how we navigated the admin and bureaucracy of getting a car out of Belgium and into the UK. It was a bit of a faff and there a whole bunch of things we learnt along the way so this is a chance to share some of those...
Importing to the UK
This bit was pretty easy, once we had the export plates sorted in Belgium we could just drive the car straight over on the ferry. All the customs guy had to say was "nice", with an appropriately impressed nod, as we told him we’d just bought it. The export plates included 30 days 3rd party insurance so that gave us some time to get the other stuff sorted...
Once we got the car home, we wanted to register in the UK. This wasn’t strictly necessary - we could have kept it here for 6 months and then exported it again, but we wouldn’t be able to keep it on the road or use it, which seemed like a waste.
In order to register it, we needed Derek to pass his MOT, and to do that we needed to make a few changes. We decided to make these changes ourselves to save money, which wasn’t too difficult on a defender as you can get the the inner working just by unscrewing a few bolts but then figuring out to do it was trickier...
#1 Change the speedo dial
The first thing we did was to switch the speedo dial so that it reads in MPH. We found a replacement dial here (at £55 I’d say it was ridiculously expensive for what is essentially a sticker) and fitted it ourselves by dismantling the dashboard, removing the speedo and replacing the face inside. The most difficult bit was dismantling the speedo to get the face off without damaging it, which we eventually did by copying this video, we thought there must be a more official method than prising it off with forks...but it's actually very effective!
The nerve wracking part was, after we put it on and manually adjusted the dial to point at 0 MPH, we drove around the block and it seemed to be reading fine only when we turned the engine off the dial dropped below zero. We had to remove the dial (again with forks) and run the engine. Then put the dial back on this time making sure to place it at zero rather than moving it, and thankfully it worked!
#2 Switch the headlights
Right Hand Drive headlights dip the opposite way so as not to blind people on the other side of the road. We bought need headlamps and fitting them was fairly easy. As with all things Land Rover you just need to take out all the screws and remember to put them back where you found them.
#3 Switch the reversing and rear fog lights
Finding the wiring for the lights was a bit tricky, at first we thought the connections would be underneath the car but it turns out there are some connectors in the removable pods just next to the wheel arches at the back of the car. Once you work out which wires go where it’s simple enough to switch over the wiring for the reverse and fog lights, and then you only need to change the coloured glass on the outside which is really easy.
Once we had all that done, we just had to send a few forms off to the DVLA (who were very helpful) and pay our vehicle tax plus a £55 fee. A couple of weeks later we got our registration number and could put our second set of new plates on