Life in the UK

Buying a car in the UK

If you’re new to the UK and are considering buying a car, there’s a lot to consider. We’ve written this article about buying a car in the UK and the regulations involved. Here you can find information on:


Where to search for cars in the UK

The two most popular ways to search for and purchase a car in the UK are to either visit a car dealership or search online.

In most cities and towns in the UK, you’ll be able to find a local car dealership. Purchasing a car from a dealership has a number of benefits; for example, in most cases, a car passing through the hands of a dealer will go through a technical inspection and will have significant faults corrected. Dealers are also generally familiar with the requirements of transferring car ownership from one person to another.

If you’re planning to search online, there are a number of websites which are often used, UK-wide, for purchasing a car. These websites will generally provide all the information required to make an informed purchase of either a new or used car and you can easily compare how vehicles are priced in line with the rest of the market. We’ve listed some of the most popular websites that people use in the UK to search for a car:


Checking a vehicle before you buy it

You will need the vehicle’s registration number, make, model and MOT test number and you should check the details that you’ve been given about a vehicle match the DVLA’s information. Checking the vehicle’s MOT history is also important; vehicles over 3 years old must have an MOT check every twelve months to ensure they have a basic roadworthiness standard. Passed MOT results will also show you:

  • The mileage recorded when the vehicle was tested
  • If the vehicle passed or failed
  • What parts failed at each test, and if any parts had any minor problems
  • When the vehicle’s next MOT is due

Buying and registering a vehicle

Once you’ve bought a vehicle, you must register it. How you register depends on if the vehicle has a logbook or not.

For new vehicles, the dealer will usually register it for you and you’ll receive the logbook in four weeks’ time. For used vehicles, the seller can register it to you online or by post. If they chose to do online, they will need to:

  • Register the vehicle to you online
  • Fill in the green ‘new keeper’ slip and hand it over to you
  • Destroy the logbook; the DVLA will update the vehicle record and send out a new logbook within three to five days.

If the seller chooses to register by post, they will need to:

  • Complete section 2 if they have a new style logbook (with multi-coloured numbered blocks on the front cover) or section 6 if they have the older style
  • Sign the declaration in section 8 if they have the older style (you must sign the declaration too)
  • Fill in the green ‘new keeper’ slip and hand it over to you
  • Send the logbook to the DVLA

Vehicle tax

You must tax a vehicle before you can legally use it on the road.

To tax your car, you will need a reference number. You can find this in your logbook if it’s in your name, or from the green ‘new keeper’ slip if you have just bought the vehicle. You can pay your tax by debit, credit card or direct debit.


Car insurance

You must have car insurance before being legally allowed to drive it on the road.

There are three main types of car insurance, which are; the bare minimum cover for injuries, damage to third parties, and fully comprehensive. The UK car insurance industry is extensive and so you should always shop around to find the lowest premiums and best cover. There are numerous comparison websites to help you search for car insurance, including:


Getting an MOT certificate

The maximum penalty for driving a vehicle without a valid MOT certificate is a £1,000 fine. Cars sold by dealers should come with a valid certificate, but it is down to you to renew your vehicle’s MOT annually.

Across the UK, there are thousands of MOT centres. To book an MOT, simply contact an MOT centre near you.

Note that only centres showing the blue sign with 3 white triangles can carry out your MOT.



If you’re interested in working in the UK and would like to discuss the positions available in your specialty, and how we can assist you, please contact our team.