26th January 2022

The challenges of importing parts post-Brexit

Importing car or bike parts from overseas can be an essential part of vehicle restoration, especially if your project is rare or past a certain age. Even with the stellar support of the UK’s vast classic industry, the hunt for those illusive items can often take you outside of the UK.

This process was made a little more complicated by Brexit – now the UK has left the EU, the process of buying classic vehicle parts from Europe isn’t as easy. We spoke to three experts from the classic vehicle industry to hear their thoughts on the subject.

James Walker, General Manager at Classic Automotive Relocation Services (CARS), offers worldwide air, sea and road freight services to the classic car sector, and understands the challenges.

“Brexit has introduced additional complexities and bureaucracy for those wishing to import vehicles and associated parts between the UK and EU,” says James. “What used to be a straightforward and simple process has now been complicated by customs clearances and the consideration of what taxes will need to be paid when goods arrive.  This is having a substantial impact on all businesses, and especially those smaller organisations with less resource and experience in having to deal with import/export formalities.”

The Historic & Classic Vehicles Alliance (HCVA) is also tackling the subject, having been established in 2021 with the aim of protecting the future of classic and historic vehicles.

“We are seeing a wide range of post Brexit challenges in terms of trade relationships with our European colleagues,” says Garry Wilson, CEO at the HCVA. “This ranges from the timely movement of parts and the increases in prices due to cross boarder taxes but also of vehicles generally. The UK is globally recognised as one of the primary classic vehicle restoration centres, and many European owners send their cars to the UK for work to be completed.”

“Temporary importation of these vehicles, particularly for the smaller organisation is proving difficult, impacting net revenues for the UK economy. Furthermore, the movement of vehicles for events has slowed, once again with business and therefore UK economic impact. The HCVA have commenced discussions with the UK Government though these will take time to reach the desired outcomes sought.”

The HCVA’s Chairman, Julian Barratt, is also CEO at Jaguar parts specialist SNG Barratt, so has experienced the challenges firsthand. He also says that smaller organisations will be the hardest hit by the new rules.

“Post Brexit, we are seeing challenges both in rising costs and delays in parts and components reaching the UK and the need to manage costs for export due to the increase in charges and duties when sending our parts overseas. We at SNG Barratt have been able to weather the storm a little by having two warehouses on mainland Europe but we wonder how the smaller organisations are faring. Our trade body the HCVA will be tackling this challenge as one of their campaign issues.”

Have you experienced new challenges to classic ownership post-Brexit? Let us know in the comments below.