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Thousands driving imported cars illegally

Foreign residents are warned to expect a crackdown on overseas registered cars as Government embarrassed to admit they don't know how many are driving illegally

Thousands of foreign motorists have brought their cars to Britain and not re-registered them. By law, the cars should be re-registered with UK plates within 6 months of arriving, as UK residents are not permitted to drive non-UK registered cars, but many are simply not bothering.

Cars with UK plates are easy for authorities to deal with, a quick check against databases will tell them if the car is insured, has an up to date MOT and Road Tax and enables them to send speeding and parking tickets to the right address. Cars with foreign number plates are much harder to deal with and as a result, slip through the net.

In a commons reply, road safety minister Stephen Hammond admitted the Government had no idea how many motorists were flouting the law. Local authorities estimate there could be in excess of 30,000 foreign registered cars on the roads that should have been re-registered.

London Councils estimate that although foreign drivers only make up two percent of drivers, they account for five percent of motoring offences. Some 330,000 parking tickets are issued to foreign motorists in Britain with one local authority saying that a third of the most persistent offenders owned foreign registered vehicles, suggesting the driver was resident. Despite this, only 4 cars were clamped by the DVLA last year.

The question was tabled by Andrew Percy, who was unimpressed with the answer saying: "I am staggered only four cars have been clamped. You see foreign vehicles driving around and there is no database, We don't know if these vehicles are safe. We don't know whether they are insured. They don't pay road tax either.”

There are doubtless quite a few drivers of foreign registered cars that are deliberately not re-registering their cars and evading the costs of responsible motoring. There will be another group simply unaware that they should have done so and not sure how to go about it. You can find out more about how to re-register your car in the UK here.

Insurance can be an issue for owners of re-registered vehicles as most insurers aren't interested in chasing such a small market. You may still get a quote on many comparison services but read the small print and you'll find they don't cover "grey” or "parallel” imports. MoneyMaxim's standard car insurance comparison does include the questions but there are a reduced number of insurers that will quote so you may find it better to use our dedicated Imported Car Insurance service.