What is the VAT status on an unregistered car?

If I was to buy an unregistered car that is VAT qualifying, does that mean I need to pay VAT on top of the sale price. How can I tell the year of the vehicle?

Asked on 4 September 2016 by Peggy

Answered by Honest John
You can usually tell the year of manufacture by markings on the glass and on the plastics. All brand new unregistered cars are VAT qualifying. If they are purchased by, for example, a car rental company, it pays the VAT, then reclaims it as input tax from HMRC. If it re-sells the car, it then has to repay the VAT element to HMRC, which is calculated as sale price divided by 1.2 then multiplied by 20%.

If a car dealer buys the car, he then reclaims the VAT input tax on it in the same way, but when he sells it, he charges 20% VAT on his sale price and repays that to HMRC. The process ends when a private individual, buys the car and cannot reclaim the VAT input tax. From that point on, the VAT cannot be recovered. In my experience the price quoted for cars to a private individual who cannot reclaim the VAT will always include VAT. The price quoted for vans, LCVs and pick-ups will always be + 20% VAT.
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