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Guidelines for registering a foreign, ex-military truck in the UK

Dating from 2006. Rules may have changed

Documents you need to make the application at a local DVLA office

  • MoT
  • Insurance
  • Evidence of date manufacture (see below)
  • Photo ID
  • Recent utility bills to prove address
  • V55/5 form
  • VAT 414 form
  • Invoice for the vehicle (showing UK VAT paid)
  • Invoice for mph speedo fitting
  • Picture of the vehicle

Step 1


MoT the lorry as a campervan (other options exist, but this is simplest for private use). Matt read that a ‘campervan’ must have a permanently fixed sink, cooker and bed to be described thus, so he found a little sink unit (left) on ebay, chucked a bed in the back, tacked on a fog light, fitted some Landrover headlamps for UK roads and rolled off to Farmers MoT Services who passed it without even looking for the sink.

Step 2

Get insurance as a campervan. I recommend the special vehicle department of Footman James. They’ll understand it has no reg number yet and will issue a cover note with the chassis number until you can get a plate. They may want a picture

Step 3

Get a blue V55/5 ‘Application for the first license for a used motor vehicle and declaration for registration’ either sent from Swansea or picked up at a local DVLA office. It looks daunting but not all boxes need to be filled out. Fyi I filled out:
2. ‘PLG’ 3. ’12 months’
4. Fee
5. Make
6. Model
7. ‘Campervan’ (or flatbed lorry)
8. ‘2 axle rigid’
9. Colour
13. Length
15 Unladen weight (guessed)
16. Number of seats
21. GVW (under 7500kg – beyond that may be another category)
22. Start date of new tax disc
29. Type of fuel
30. Chassis number
31. Engine number
32. cc
33. CO2 “295” I guessed but it’s in the ballpark
42. Age
All the other boxes were left blank or are filled in by them

The VAT 414 form was no drama – something you fill out easily to prove to Customs that UK VAT has been paid. In my case it appeared on the invoice from Leavesleys who’d actually done the importing and VAT paying.

Step 4

Light a candle at the altar and approach the DVLA counter on hands and knees. On my first DVLA visit (Nottingham) they vet your forms while you wait to go to a counter, giving an entirely unexpected and, it has to be said, genuine impression of helpfulness and efficiency. I was advised in advance that the photocopied translation of the Danish first reg doc was not acceptable at dating evidence so I should take a non-age related Q plate for the MAN. This required writing a letter saying “I accept the issue of a Q plate for lorry X ”. I wrote this right under the guy’s nose, he checked all my forms where good but the application was rejected anyway and then the whole lot got lost in the post.

I got duplicates of everything I could: the Danish originals from Leavesleys, and went through it all again at a local DVLA (Wimbledon). This time I was told the Danish original reg with date along with my home made translation was not acceptable as dating evidence – no drama, get a Q, but now I was now told a Q plate required a dreaded Single Vehicle Approval (SVA) test or inspection. Don’t know what that involves but it must be tougher, more expensive and slower to get than an MoT and I had to drive the MAN to Algeria in 2 weeks…
On hearing that I may have to buy another van to get the job done, helpful and sympathetic DVLA matey told me that to get an age-related plate, a letter from MAN UK (not MAN in Germany or Denmark) was needed, stating when the vehicle was built. That looked daunting but apparently every manufacturer’s country HQ has access to a database which comes up with these details once they key in the vehicle’s chassis number. I found where MAN UK where, rang up, explained, got put through to the guy who deals with this and luckily he sent it next day. I know others who have had to pay and wait for months for similar letters.

I went back ready to get my number but this time matey said I need a picture of the lorry and proof that the speedo had been changed to mph (apparently there had been a court case after a crash involving kph/mph speedos so they want to be in the clear). I got the former and Matt sent me an invoice for fitting the latter. I went back one more time to witness the happy birth of the lovely 10,983-pound mini MAN christened ‘F98 SYE’ and could now book a ferry to France with eleven days to spare. Phew – except that not phew – it is always like this!

Moral: For a sub-7.5 ton vehicle over 10 years old imported from the EU, even with something weird and archaic like an 8136, a reg number can be obtained without any challenging emission and safety tests, SVAs or even an inspection. Hope this helps.