Buying an American RV

They might not always be better, but they’re almost always bigger and extremely well-appointed.

Americans’ love affair with the RV – recreational vehicle, or motorhome, as we are perhaps more likely to know it – has taken the freedom of the open road, and luxurious accommodation on wheels to particular heights.

It might not be surprising, therefore, that there are a number of potential customers in the UK wanting to buy an American RV and import it back home for their own use in this country, Europe or even beyond.

But with a range of American RV’s already imported and typically available in the UK, plus specialist providers of American RV motorhome finance in the UK, is it really worth considering importing one?

Here is what you need to consider if you are looking to import an RV …


A major stumbling block may be the apparent difficulty in raising suitable American RV finance – lenders may prove extremely wary of advancing funds for the purchase, in a foreign currency, of a vehicle that is still overseas. The market value of the RV might be especially difficult for any lender to verify.

And, as a non-resident foreigner, you are unlikely to easily arrange the finance you need from lenders in the United States.

Import costs

When arranging your finance, it is important to take into account the additional costs that are going to be incurred in importing your RV into the UK – principally, import duty and VAT.

Import duty is payable on any vehicle you bought abroad with the express purpose of importing it into the UK. You do not have to pay this duty if you have been living abroad for a year or more, for example, and want to bring back a vehicle which you have already owned overseas for more than six months. Other exclusions are extended to imported vehicles of special or particular historic interest.

In addition to import duty, you must also pay VAT, which is calculated on the total value of the vehicle (including import duty) which you are importing.

Import duty is currently levied at the rate of 10% of the sterling value of the RV you are importing, and a further charge of VAT at 20% of the value of the vehicle, including import duty. For example, if you are importing an American RV that cost the equivalent of £10,000, you must pay import duty of £1,000 and a further £2,200 in VAT.

Additional considerations when importing an American RV

Once your vehicle has arrived in the UK and the necessary duty and taxes have been paid, it also needs to meet the standards of the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)’s “Individual Vehicle Approval” scheme for imported vehicles.

If you are buying and importing an American RV, consider the fact that many of these are a considerable size and weight. This is an important consideration when determining whether the category B driving licence you currently hold for driving a car also extends to an RV of the Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) you are buying.

If you got your licence before the 1st of January 1997, for example, you are able to drive an RV and trailer up to a combined MAM of 8,250 kg.

If you passed your test and got your driving licence after that date, however, you are restricted to driving vehicles of up to 3,500 kg MAM only. If your RV exceeds that weight, you need to gain a category C1 driving licence in order to drive vehicles of between 3,500 and 7,500 kg MAM.


As you can see, importing an RV can be exciting but also a complicated process, with potential finance difficulties and associated import costs.

You may wish to shop around in the UK first to see what RV’s are available – it could save you time and money.

Leave a Reply