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

Last updated by mustard.co.uk on August 26th, 2021

 

The short answer is, yes. You can legally drive a left-hand car in the UK even though it’s more conventional to own and drive a car with the steering wheel on the right-hand side.

That said, there are several points to bear in mind, if you do want to buy a car with left-hand drive; here’s what’s good to know: 

Do I need special left-hand drive car insurance?

No, cover for left-hand drive (LHD) cars is the same as it is for cars that are right-hand drive (RHD). It means you’ll still get to choose from third-party and comprehensive policies which cover a range of events including theft and fire damage. 

There shouldn’t be any problem searching for car cover either as insurers will be able to see whether your car is LHD or RHD from its number plate. 

However, if your car is a rare import with LHD, your choice of insurer could be limited but this has more to do with the fact it’s a specialist car rather than being left-hand drive. 

Is left-hand drive car insurance more expensive?

Cover for LHD cars can be more expensive compared to RHD vehicles. Fundamentally, this is because cars made for the UK market are all right-hand drive. If you’ve got (or are thinking of getting) a left-hand drive car, it’s highly likely to be imported. 

Imported cars will be made to different specifications and in many cases, can be more sophisticated which means repairing or replacing parts is often more expensive. This in turn, can push up your premium.

Policies for LHD cars can also be more expensive because there may not be enough safety data to draw accurate conclusions from. In the eyes of some insurers, this means driving a LHD car also comes with a greater risk which could increase the chances of being involved in an accident.  

What paperwork do I need for a left-hand drive car in the UK?

If you’re importing a car into the UK yourself, you’ll need to make sure it’s registered with HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs) and the DVLA  (Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency).

You’ll also need something called ‘vehicle approval’. If the car’s been made in Europe this means getting a European Certificate of Conformity from the manufacturer and a Mutual Recognition certificate if it’s also left-hand drive. If the car is from outside of the EU, you’ll need an Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA). You can find full guidance at GOV.UK, importing vehicles into the UK

Tips for driving left-hand drive cars in the UK

As well as insurance and import paperwork, there are some practical points to consider when it comes to driving a LHD car in the UK:

  • Overtaking — in a conventional RHD car, it’s easy to see oncoming traffic when you’re overtaking. In a LHD car, your field of vision is much more limited. To overtake safely, keep your distance from the car in front of you which will increase what you see coming towards you.
  • Headlamps — if you’ve got a LHD import, you’ll need to make sure the headlamps are adapted so they don’t dazzle oncoming cars. This is easy to do and shouldn’t cost too much. If you don’t make the alterations, you could be fined.
  • Speed in mph — if your car’s from the EU, it’ll gauge speed in kilometres rather than miles per hour. To ensure you stay on the right side of the speed limit, familiarise yourself with their UK equivalents (for example 64kph is roughly 40mph ).
  • Lane control — driving a LHD car in the left-hand lane can be disorientating and can result in you drifting out of your lane. 
  • Drive-throughs — ticket machines and drive-throughs in the UK are designed for right-hand drive cars so it can be awkward and inconvenient if you’ve got a LHD car. It’s easy enough to get around if you have a passenger but if not, you’ll just need a grabber or some patient drivers behind you. 

How do I sell my left-hand car in the UK?

Selling a left-hand drive car in the UK shouldn’t be any different to selling one with RHD. If you choose to sell it privately, just make sure your advert is clear that it’s a left-hand drive vehicle — don’t forget, you’ll also need all the correct paperwork to pass on to the new owner.

Alternatively, there are numerous car dealers that specialise in buying and selling LHD cars. This can be the simpler option as they’ll also sort out all the documentation on your behalf. Just remember that selling your car privately might give you a better return than selling it to a dealer. 

Compare imported cars insurance

Whether you’ve got a left-hand drive or right-hand drive car, it’s easy to search for car insurance at mustard.co.uk. Simply fill in our online form and we’ll show you suitable quotes in minutes. Alternatively, you can speak to a friendly expert on t: 0330 022 8814. 

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