Buying a Left Hand Drive Car in the UK

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Last updated on June 14, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 4 minutes

If you’re thinking about moving to Portugal from the UK, you may be wondering whether it’s worth buying a second-hand car before you leave.

Both new and second hands cars are expensive in Portugal (and other European countries like Spain and France for that matter) and many people choose to save money by buying a LHD car in the UK and importing it into Portugal.

The upside to this is that it’s usually cheaper to buy a second hand LHD car in the UK than it is in Portugal. Although there are specialist LHD dealerships in the south of England, it’s still a very niche market. Most LHD cars that arrive in the UK are brought in by expats returning to live in the UK, or continental Europeans moving to the UK for work. In both cases, the sellers are usually looking to get rid of them so that they can purchase a right-hand drive.

Where to find Portuguese registered cars in the UK

  • eBay – As well as the auctions that it’s famous for, Ebay also offers classifieds adverts (like Gumtree or Craigslist). Quite a few LHD dealers advertise here, so it’s always worth taking a look to see what’s available.
  • Facebook Marketplace – Increasingly more and more people are posting to Facebook Marketplace over Autotrader and Gumtree.
  • Autotrader – Most LHD dealers will list their cars on Autotrader and it’s quite common for private sellers to use Autotrader to sell their cars as well. Click ‘more options’ to use the advanced search and add the ‘lhd’ to the keywords. You can also try searching for ‘Portuguese’ if you’re looking specifically for Portuguese plates.
  • Gumtree – Gumtree is another good place to look as its used by both private and commercial sellers. Again, search for ‘lhd’. You can also trying searching for ‘lhd Portuguese’ but don’t expect to find too many cars.
  • Preloved – Similar to Gumtree. Always worth a look.
  • Piston Heads – This tends to be more where you get a LHD Porche than something for going to the shops with.

LHD car specialists

There are a few car dealerships that specialise in LHD cars. These companies mainly deal with expats living in Europe, but a few also deal in specialist LHD imports of high-performance cars.

  • LHD Place – Specialist LHD dealership in Basingstoke, Hampshire.
  • My LHD – Cars can be delivered to any address worldwide. They also have offices in the UK and in France.
  • LHD Car Supermarket – Based in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire.
  • London Left Hand Drive Centre – Although you’ll find a few expat-type cars, this dealership tends to have a lot of high-performance imports. It’s located in an underground car park in Chelsea harbour in London and viewings are by appointment only.

You’ll notice that the vast majority of LHD cars will be located in the South of England. This is where the majority of the LHD dealerships are and where the expats that are selling these cars are usually located. Occasionally, you will find a LHD car in Scotland, Wales, or the Far North of England but the majority will be in the South. 

Finding Portuguese registered cars in the UK

Yes, it’s possible to find Portuguese reg cars in the UK. Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick and easy way to do it: it’s a case of keeping an eye on all of the sites above and looking out for ones with Portuguese plates.

The majority of LHD cars in the UK have either UK, French, or Spanish plates. You’ll also find cars from a few central European countries (e.g. Germany and Belgium) and also Eastern European countries (e.g. Poland and Romania). Portuguese reg cars do pop up, but they’re few and far between. If this is what you’re specifically looking for, expect to spend a few months searching.

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James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.

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Comments

  1. Thank you. I am moving to France , and looking at buying LHD car in the UK. Your article is comprehensive and brought up several sites that I was unaware of. I have done plenty of research , and you have added to that. Much appreciated , and in due course will be visiting Portugal.

    Reply
  2. When I bought a Portuguese registration car , I was advised to change from my English license to Portuguesas license it is renewal every 2 years

    Reply
    • Hi Ewald I am thinking of buying a LHD car with Portuguese plates. We eventually want to move to Madeira. But iin is he meantime is it possible to tax and insure a car with Portuguese plates and drive that car in the UK. Until such a time comes as we move to Madeira? I am new to this and would appreciate your seasoned advice. Many thanks David

      Reply
    • Hi Marc,

      I did go into a Renault garage a few years ago and they said that if I wanted I could buy/lease a new LHD through them. They would just have to order it in.

      Is that what you mean?

      Reply
  3. If I buy a used Portuguese-registered car in the UK, will I owe any import tax (I am a Portuguese resident) after arriving in Portugal? Is this the main benefit of buying a Portuguese-registered car and are there additional costs? Thanks!

    Reply
  4. Thanks James – really useful article!

    I was wondering: if I were to buy a car with Portuguese plates in the UK, then move to Portugal, would I then not need to ‘import’ the car as it will already be registered in Portugal?

    Reply
    • Hi Mark,

      I’m in a similar position that your question in 2021 relates to.

      I’m looking to buy a LHD Portuguese registered car in the UK and have the same question. How did you get on? Did you still have to ‘import’ the car?

      Thanks,

      Kim

      Reply
  5. I work in Scotland but live in Portugal so I would like to buy a Portuguese Reg placed car to take back with where can I find cars like this

    Reply
    • Hi Leroy,

      Have a look through the websites listed and you will see Portuguese reg cars listed from time to time. Most of the LHD car retailers will be in the South of England.

      Reply

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