UK History History

Copyright © Cossack Owners Club - All Rights Reserved

Cossack   Owners      Club About Us

Members Only

Registering an Imported Older Motorcycle

Before you buy a motorcycle make sure that the frame number matches the VIN plate on the headstock. Ideally the engine number will also match but an engine change of the same type is no problem.  Make sure any registration documents (from whatever country) match the bike, at least the VIN plate on the headstock and frame number. Get a receipt that matches the frame number at least. If the receipt also states the year of manufacture of the bike then that will be very useful. Hand written on paper and signed is OK.  

As soon as you get the bike into the UK you MUST apply to HMRC to Notify them of a Vehicle Arrival into UK. A delay can result in a fine of £5.00 per day! Without notification and acceptance, the DVLA will NOT register your bike. NB The importer is liable, if you buy an imported bike in the UK insist that the importer does the NOVA application. Read the DVLA requirements


In 1981 a new piece of UK C&U (Construction and Use) legislation was introduced, that prevented sidecars being fitted to the right hand side (hence LHD) of motorcycles registered after Aug 1981. So if the bike has a registration document from any country in the world dated prior to Aug 1981 then the sidecar can go on the right. Actual text shown at the bottom of this page. So with no previous registration document, however old the bike is, the sidecar would have to go on the left UK side. However, recently a 1986 piece of legislation came to light that defines what happens if there is no previous registration document! So... uksi/1986/1078/regulation/3/made   

For the purpose of these Regulations, the date on which a motor vehicle is first used is:—


(a)  in the case of a vehicle not falling within sub-paragraph (b) and which is registered, the date on which it was registered;

(b) n each of the following cases—

(i) a vehicle which is being or has been used under a trade licence as defined in section 16 of the 1971 Act (otherwise than for the purposes of demonstration or testing or of being delivered from premises of the manufacturer by whom it was made or of a distributor of vehicles, or dealer in vehicles, to premises of a distributor of vehicles, dealer in vehicles or purchaser thereof or to premises of a person obtaining possession thereof under a hiring agreement or hire purchase agreement);

(ii) a vehicle belonging, or which has belonged, to the Crown and which is or was used or appropriated for use for naval, military or air force purposes;

(iii) a vehicle belonging, or which has belonged, to a visiting force or a headquarters or defence organisation to which in each case the Visiting Forces and International Headquarters (Application of Law) Order 1965 applies;

(iv) a vehicle which has been used on roads outside Great Britain before being imported into Great Britain; and

(v) a vehicle which has been used otherwise than on roads after being sold or supplied by retail and before being registered;

The date of manufacture of the vehicle.  Thus with no previous registration from another country then the date of manufacture shall be used as the date for application to other legislation, including the infamous C&U Reg 93! This means that the owner now has to prove the date of manufacture that should be on the VIN plate, or on the receipt from the seller. This does seem to be a legitimate way of allowing UK registration of a motorcycle with a sidecar on the right that has no previous registration document but can be proved to have been manufactured before Aug 1981.

MoT; only now needed for vehicles built since 1960, but many insurance companies will still need a MoT on a vehicle older than 1960, so ask your broker/insurance company! The bike can be insured and MoT’d on the frame number. At the MoT, the examiner will enter the frame number and date of manufacture into the VOSA (Vehicle Operators Services Agency) database and this will be accessed by DVLA when you apply to register.  So make sure your NOVA application matches the MoT and insurance!  

NB: If you add or change a sidecar then a new MoT is required!  

To register with the DVLA to get an age related registration number contact them: and get the form V55/5. or call them on  0300 790 6801.  

You will almost certainly need a ‘Date Certificate’ from me to go with the application (I am approved by the DVLA to issue such), it will at least smooth the process. Success rate with Age Related Registration applications with a COC Date Cert is 100%. Photographs of the bike, frame number, engine number and VIN plate will be required and scans of any docs will be useful but not essential. The COC Date Cert is FREE to members.  

There is also a route to register a bike built up from parts if the parts are from a type that was made over 25 years ago. This is for a ‘Reconstructed Classic’. No such applications have been made through the COC yet.  

Send V55/5 to DVLA with the COC Date Cert and other required docs as specified on the form and you will get an age related UK registration number.  

Have fun;

Peter J Ballard.  COC Tech Advice.  

(There is a 2017 update on the above information in the Members Area)

 "How to import and register Soviet motorcycle"