What is a Grey Import car and should you buy one?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware that the UK has now officially left the EU.

And that means, inevitably, a lot of cars can be bought for less money elsewhere in the EU than the UK – indeed, while some places like Germany and France are generally more expensive, there are over 20 countries in the EU and several of these offer some really quite attractive deals and exchange rates.

For example – buying a car in Romania or Bulgaria (while this will likely be left-hand drive) will often be about half the price.

But are Grey Imports – sometimes called parallel imports – all they’re cracked up to be?

Should you buy a grey import?

The short answer is: it depends. Generally buying a new car is less risky, than a used one.

If the Grey Import is already within the UK then the costs are much more clear-cut: you won’t need to worry about import fees or paying VAT. Aside from being a left-hand drive, it’s unlikely you’ll notice any difference.

But this should be reflected in the retail price. Generally asking prices for Grey Imports are considerably lower than UK models – although of course that does not apply to specialist vehicles and hard-to-find prestiges!

Will UK manufacturers fix imported cars?

And the confusion does not stop there. What for example will you do, if you buy a used grey import that has a manufacturer fault? WIll this be honoured by UK based showrooms? The answer here is not clear.

However it’s much easier to understand when it comes to new cars. Warranties on new cars bought in an EU member state are valid throughout the EU, meaning that a UK resident who has bought a new car in another member state and then imports it into the UK will be covered by the same warranty. However, whereas UK warranties tend to be for three years, those in other EU countries may be only for one or two – check the fineprint.

What about insurance?

Insuring a grey import is something you will want to check first, before parting with your cash. In most cases, mainstream vehicle insurers will insure an import, and comparison websites will also be able to run a price comparison, but it’s always best to be sure first. There may also be hidden or unknown costs of insuring a non-standard car, so be aware of the price of running the car before buying it. You can find out more here.

How do I know if a car is an import (grey import?)

The simple answer is: to find out, you would need to buy a vehicle check (hopefully from us, and we will tell you). The dealer or seller should also let you know, assuming they are scrupulous and honest — this can sometimes be a dangerous assumption, though. For ultimate peace of mind you probably want to buy a vehicle check from us, for the small one-off price of just ยฃ8.75.

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