Importing a Modified Vehicle

Update April 2010:

Importing a Modified Vehicle

 The ability to source vehicles via the Internet means that many are choosing to import ready built modified vehicles at realistic prices. Many may be spurred on by the statement that BIVA ( Basic Individual Vehicle Assessment ) only applies to post 1998 vehicles and that an older vehicle won’t be a problem .

Well, if anything that appears to be too good to be true ever true? Well it’s a mixed answer on this question and scenario.

If it were a stock pre 1998 motor no problems at all but once it’s modified the approach all changes. “Well how would they know”, I can hear you all shouting in frustration? Simple answer is that they don’t need to know. If they feel in the slightest doubt they ask for confirmation of the vehicles identity from a recognized source, generally the Owners Clubs as listed on their V756 list.

Bear in mind that in the past the person looking at your vehicle from the local DRO wasn’t likely to have much knowledge of old vehicles, had little specialist training, and so, if the paperwork and patina looked good, you were usually fine.

The current approach appears to be that you make an application to register your vehicle at the local office, you trailer the car to them for inspection of chassis and engine details, and if they feel concerned they then ask for confirmation of it’s integrity as above. Generally the clubs on the V756 lists are restorers and unlikely to be modified vehicle friendly though some will accept ‘Coeval modifications’. This is as laid down by FIVA,

 This means that the car doesn’t have to be standard as long as it meets the following laid down criteria it should still receive an age related plate without needing BIVA.

Following quote is taken from :-

“ Vehicles that have been rebuilt using a mix of new/used parts

In order to retain the original registration mark:

Cars and Car-Derived Vans must use:

The original unmodified chassis or unaltered bodyshell (i.e. body and chassis as one unit - monocoque); or

A new chassis or monocoque bodyshell of the same specification as the original supported by evidence from the dealer/manufacturer (e.g. receipt)

And two other major components from the original vehicle - see list below

Suspension (front & back)
Axles (both)
Steering Assembly “

If the inspector looks at the car and agrees that it is a vehicle built before 1998, and that it is standard, you will receive an age related plate.

If he looks at it and feels it has been modified but within the above criteria it should still receive an age related plate.

If he looks at it and feels it has been modified, but does not meet the above criteria, but you have documentation that all work was carried prior to 98 you MAY still get an age related plate OR a Q plate.

If he looks at it and decides that the work must have been done AFTER 1998, and you have no acceptable proof to the contrary it WILL be sent for test before registration is allowed.

If the vehicle has been modified prior to importation it will be sent for NIVA (Normal Individual Vehicle Assessment ) and will have to meet FULL modern safety specifications as if it was a new car. This can create issues for certain vehicles, dependent on the age of the base vehicle and type of modifications. The first areas of concern will be the inability for the vehicle to meet the glass markings standards as well as full modern emission specifications.

If the vehicle is imported and modified in this country, with a full photographic history and performed mainly by the owner then it should be allowable for BIVA. This is a test that applies to Amateur built cars with many exemptions from full NIVA Type Approval but the glass specifications, and markings, will create issues for certain vehicles especially those for which no suitable glass is available.

We would suggest careful investigation of the vehicles history and documentation to ensure that it is possible to register in this country before purchase.

Details of the full requirements for both BIVA and NIVA can be found at :-

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