How to fill in a V55/5 Form

How to fill in a V55/5 Form, Registering an imported old vehicle in the UK

I found it really difficult to find all of the right information about how to register imported bikes, so I thought it would be a good idea to write up how I went about it, filling in some of the parts that I struggled to get information on and showing how to fill in a V55/5 Form.  The DVLA V355/5 help document is useful, but it contains so much information it is easy to get confused.

I know that when I was trying to find out how to register my old imported Triumph Bonneville, it would have helped.

While I am importing an old motorcycle, this guide should also be helpful for anyone tackling the V55 form, it’d even help you work out how to fill in v55/5 form for mobility scooter for example.

It always seems very daunting getting in touch with the DVLA, other than just sending in your change of owner forms, or paying your road tax.  In my experience, which although not extensive, has covered a number of different things over the years, they have always been really helpful. I’ve always managed to get a good outcome.  

The strangest one was for a Yamaha TTR600 I sold that was collected by a lovely bloke from Czechoslovakia, Ludwig, he picked it up himself.  The number stamped on the frame included the model number at the start, whereas on the registration document it didn’t! The Czech authorities would not register the bike without them matching.

So it turns out, they do try to stop stolen bikes from here being registered abroad.  This came up a month or so after the bike had left the country, so when they DVLA asked to inspect the bike before changing the registration document there was a problem.  A few phone calls, some pictures, copies of emails and receipts sent in with a polite letter and they accepted them and changed the V5 so that Ludwig could get it registered .

Anyway, let’s tackle the question of “How to fill in a V55/5 Form”.  Remember this is my experience so forgive me if I have missed something that relates to your vehicle or circumstance.  The bikes I have experience of were bought as non-runners, with NOVA letters etc, and both were registered in 2019.

How to complete the V55/5 Form

I found information about this on a few owners club websites which were very helpful in different ways.  It may be helpful though if you see how I completed the form and other documents. I have erased any real identifiable information for my own privacy, and that of the future owners of the bikes, but you can see what needs to be filled in.

When you first see the form your heart sinks. There are a lot of boxes, luckily for me and perhaps you, they are not all necessarily needed.  If you look at the image of V55/5 page 1 you will see how I have completed the forms, and these have been completely acceptable.

The numbers are the ones for the boxes that I entered information into, it is all pretty self-explanatory, unlike some of the other boxes 🙂   Page 2 has even less, strangely they want your date of birth, doesn’t really seem relevant

V55/5 Form Example – Page 1

The V55/5 Form page 1 from the DVLA. An example of how to fill it in.

V55/5 Form Example – Page 2

The V55/5 Form page 2, an example of how to fill it in.

DVLA V55/5 Form Online Download to Print

If you don’t already have a the V55 form in front of you, previously you would have had to request the forms from the DVLA or head down to your local post office to get copies of it. In this digital age however, the DVLA are now allowing you to download the form to print at home.

You can now download the V55/5 form PDF from the DVLA to print and complete at home. Here’s a link to save you from searching for it: Download Link

Once you’ve downloaded the form you can print it out and fill it in using the V55/5 form example above. You can see what the V55 PDF looks like below for reference. Maybe someday the DVLA will host the V55/5 form online so you can fill it in and submit it directly on your computer and upload any supporting images or documents.

dvla v55/5 form online download in PFD format. This is page one of two.
the dvla v55/5 form online to download, this is the second of two pages.

The form is 2 pages so please ensure you print out both sides when you follow my example as they won’t accept anything less than the complete document. As it states at the top, incomplete forms will be rejected.

Road Tax for an old imported vehicle

If your vehicle is over 40 years old then you set the class as Historic and don’t need to pay any road tax.  For this purpose I think that the V112 form, see the next section, is used.

MOT or Not, and the V112 Form

At the point you are registering the vehicle has to be complete(ish) and look roadworthy.  As the bikes, I have registered were over 40 years old they did not need an MOT. Instead, I completed downloaded and completed the V112 form, which is a much easier form to deal with than the v55/5 form, check out our guide.

If you need to get an MOT, the centre can do it based on the VIN number.  So apart from the hassle of getting it done this is quite straightforward.  The code R on the form was the one on the list for vehicles over 40 years old.  

There is a strange thing that although the vehicle has to be over 40 years old by January 7th of the year after it is 40, the exemption doesn’t actually kick in until some time in April when the new tax year starts.  I think it is when it is published in Parliament.  

Insurance for an imported vehicle

I was tipped off by a reply on somebody’s Facebook post that you might not require insurance to register your vehicle.  The post was about a delay with the registration so the person’s insurance had run out when they were applying again. So I checked through the DVLA literature carefully and found that unless you are in Northern Ireland you do not need to have the vehicle insured.

I had asked about insurance on unregistered bikes at a Carole Nash Stand at a Classic Show.  I was told that they will insure on the VIN, for what seemed quite a cheap rate, probably because you aren’t riding it so they are only covering fire and theft, then upgrade it to full cover once it is registered.  How this works out I don’t know because I didn’t do it, but you might find this useful to know.

Dating Certificate as proof

There are lots of different ways of getting a dating certificate, from owners clubs, general clubs, bike registers and no doubt businesses that also do it.  I joined the Triumph Owners Club for £20, and each Triumph dating certificate now costs me £5.

The TOMCC membership is a real bargain as they send a very professional magazine out every month, and there is quite a big social scene at many branches of the club.  If you look at the picture you can see that this bike had originally gone to Holland, and looking at the dates was probably a way of Triumph offloading a job lot of bikes.

I imagine it was bought by an American soldier posted to Europe, and then was imported to the USA, before being repatriated back to the home of its birth!  No wonder it was so knackered 🙂

Triumph Owners Motorcycle Club dating certificate for my Triumph Bonneville 650.

Images of the bike for the application to register

I put together a page of relevant images of the bike.  How it looks, frame and engine number, speedo reading and I would include anything else relevant.  I don’t know if this is necessary but I felt from my Czech experience that sending images of things they might ask about would make sense.  For the T140 E this didn’t seem to make any difference. When you read about having it inspected you will see why.

Images sent to the DVLA as part of the V55/5 Form registration application process.

NOVA Certificate – Import Database supporting document

This is a system of recording that the taxes have been paid on vehicles as they enter the country.  When registering your bike, they match it up on the NOVA database using the VIN number. I had to contact NOVA for one bike because the VIN number on my NOVA letter, it had one digit wrong.  After a lovely conversation with a lady in Belfast, she resolved the issue and when I came to register there was no problem with the NOVA certificate.

HM Revenue & Customers NOVA database letter to correct VIN number.

Receipt of purchase supporting document

If you bought the bike complete, then you should include the receipt showing that you own the bike.  If you have bought the major parts separately you may need to go through a different process than the V55/5 form.  I think it is called Reconstructed Classic Vehicles. If I get around to building a Triton or something I will have to delve into that then.

Foreign Registration or Title to support

I think they really like to have a foreign registration document.  When you send this in you will not get it back, so make a copy if you want to keep the information.  With one of the bikes, I did not have a title, so I included a letter that basically said the original title had been lost during the decades the bike had been off the road.  This wasn’t questioned so must have been acceptable.

Sending it all off

I strongly recommend making copies of everything that you send.  This only needs to be photos on your phone, but if something goes wrong they might be the only copies of some documents.  I would also use signed-for mail so that you can show that it did arrive with the DVLA. To be fair the DVLA is a big organisation with lots of different functions, if mail gets misdirected there it could disappear for a while.

Here is the list of what I sent:

  1. Fill in a V55/5 Form
  2. Completed V112 MOT Exemption
  3. NOVA Certificate Letter (I don’t think this is strictly necessary)
  4. Purchase Receipt for the bike
  5. Title document (or letter explaining why it’s missing)
  6. Dating certificate
  7. Payment

What happens next?

Well if all goes well, you get a V5 through the post.  Then you will get most of your documents back, not the Title document though, these come with a V948, Number Plate Authorisation Certificate.  The cheque might not go through for a number of weeks, so it could catch you out if you don’t keep a positive bank balance.

DVLA Number Plate Authorisation Certificate V948 example.

Register the bike, ride off into the sunset! 🙂

Riding off into the sunset on an imported Triumph Bonneville motorcycle.

DVLA Vehicle Inspection

Or, if you are unlucky enough to get picked for an inspection, you get a letter informing you and giving contact details of the inspection company.  This is relatively pain-free, apart from the time it takes.

The inspection is to make sure that it is not a stolen vehicle.  I believe they will not pass a pile of parts, but as long as it is a mostly assembled vehicle that looks like it could be on the road, I don’t think there is an issue.

When you contact the company they promise to get back to you to arrange an appointment within 7 days.  Then the appointment should be within 4 weeks. When I had to do this, they rang me back in around 4 days, and the appointment for them to come and inspect was a further 3 weeks.

The inspection was not a problem, the inspector was knowledgeable and interested in old vehicles, he spent more time chatting than inspecting.  In the end, he took quite a few pictures, but mainly the engine and frame number, and the mileage reading!

If you look at the images I sent you will see that I could be a tad irritated!!  It then took 10 days before the V5 arrived, so a 6-week delay during lovely sunny weather. 🙁 

Eventually, I even got my imported bike going. I hope your experiences are as good as mine.

Update: We recently went through this process again to register our latest imported bike, a Honda CB750 Restoration project. Check out our video below which covers NOVA certificate, V112 and of course, talks through the process of how to fill in a V55/5 Form.

27 thoughts on “How to fill in a V55/5 Form, Registering an imported old vehicle in the UK”

  1. Awesome guide – thank you very much for sharing!! Paperwork all pulled together now, and am much more confident it will go through. Thanks!!

    1. Hi Mark, we’re really pleased it helped with your V55 submission, thanks for the positive feedback. Cheers!

  2. Julien Burbach

    Thank you so much for sharing this information ! I have been struglling to register my Honda Forza 125cc for almost 6 months !! I tried to write to DVLA but their answer was so confusing … I will try again now , here i s the message that I sent to DVLA and their answer was pretty bad..

    “Dear DVLA Team
    I need your help to register and to make sure that I can drive my scooter Honda Forza 125cc in UK ( London) I bought that scooter in Spain in May 2018, I have a an English driving licence since 2013 and I know that I need to pass the CBT
    My request is regarding the registation and official document that I Need to drive this scooter in UK as This scooter has Spanish licence plate and spanish documentation and spanish insurance.
    WHat Do I need to do in term of documentation to drive it legally in UK
    Can you please send me list of requirement/document that I need to fullfill to drive my Vehicile in UK ;
    I am planning to bring it on 1 June2020
    I understant that I need to pass a MOT, pay a road tax, get an insurance, put new licence plate… But I am bit confused with the process
    Thank you in advance for your help
    Kind Regards Julien “

    1. Hi Julien, yeah the DVLA aren’t always the most helpful when it comes to explaining these things. Glad our V55/5 form guide has helped you out, enjoy zipping around on your imported 125. Cheers!

  3. Excellent explanation of something that has been
    Worrying me a bit.i have two honda cb350 to do
    More than happy now to register them.

    1. We’re glad to have helped, Mark! Hope you get both of your Honda CB350s on the road soon. 🙂 Cheers!

  4. Richard Sewell

    Thanks for the guide which is very informative and useful. I’m just getting ready to register a 45 year old Z1 and wasnt sure whether it needed MOT’d or not, so you have clarified that one for me. On a side note something that may interest people, I tried to apply for a V5 for an old Honda XL185 (UK bike) that I was given and the DVLA swore they had no record of it on their system which was strange as I knew it had been on the road in its early years. It turned out that the VIN number on their records starts with JHML (Japan Honda Motors Ltd) and its only the subsequent characters that are stamped on the frame!
    All resolved now, but they would have had me apply for a first registration which would have meant MOT, Insurance, Date Cert etc…

    1. Thanks for the positive feedback, Richard! 🙂 That sounds like a very peculiar situation with your XL185 VIN number, I’ve not encountered that one before. Doesn’t surprise me that it baffled the DVLA though… Hope you get your Z1 registered and on the road very soon. Cheers!

  5. Thanks for popping up this guide, it make more sense than the help sheets.
    Surprising how much you don’t fill in.
    Cheers

    1. Hi Rob, you only need to send off proof of insurance if you’re in Northern Ireland. I didn’t send it with my docs and no problem so unless you’re in NI, don’t bother. Hope this helps!

  6. Super hrlpful ta!

    I’ve just got a Honda 1982 FT500 through it’s first MOT, drove it there on its Minnesota reg plate. Sat down to fill in V55, and panicked at the form asking all about Type Approval and Certificate of Conformity, so your form with all its blank spaces was i credibly reassuring.

    Used to have that exact colour scheme on my UK tank of my T140 – normally had smaller export tank, but for Euro hols, I used the UK one as a tank bag fits nicer (and it was very rough so scratches weren’t a worr!).

    Cheers agsin

  7. Hi, this article and video are brilliant, really useful. I am just wondering though if you think I need to apply for type approval for my 1981 Suzuki GS650 imported from the USA? I can’t quite understand if it is exempt, and if so why. I notice you didn’t fill out the type approval box or the reason for exemption from type approval box. Is this because your bikes were MOT/Tax/etc exempt due to their age?

    Thanks again for the article!
    Lewis

    1. Thanks Lewis, you don’t need Type Approval, I’m not certain but I think that might just be for new vehicles. But that’s nothing to do with the MOT. Hope that helps!

  8. Great help with the forms and documents required. I have a 1976 Omer Giramondo Italian moped to register so fingers crossed!
    Great stuff!
    Thanks
    Rob

  9. One of the best articles and videos I’ve found, thanks for taking the time to do this.

    Are you planning to do a video on the importing process? I’m planning to ride an old 40 year Russian bike to England and import it. It’s a little confusing though on the HMRC site as some places say it’s VAT exempt as it’s over 30 years old and from outside the EU and other places say I still need to pay 20% VAT and then the mandatory 6% duty. Do you know which is correct? Thanks again for a really helpful article.

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