Some hints and advice about getting your vehicle on the road. From buying and importing to registering and riding

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What you need to know - the basics

In the section we aim to answer a lot of the frequently asked questions about getting your Lambro on the road. Some of the below is also relevant for all imported used historic vehicles eg Scooters and other historic three-wheelers such as Piaggio Apes. This information is based on our experience and research and designed to help explain about these topics. We would recommend reading the official HMRC and DVLA articles on these topics in addition to this information.

Lambretta three-wheelers and Lambros are classed as a tricycle for the purposes of licensing, Mot, insurance and registration.

License to Ride/Drive

If you passed your full Uk car license before 19th January 2013
You can ride/drive your Lambretta three-wheeler on a full car licence. There is no legal requirement to pass your CBT or your full bike test. You may find if you have a full bike license that you insurance is cheaper though! You will see '79(tri)' under category A on the back of your photocard license.

 

If you passed your full Uk car license AFTER 19th January 2013 the rules have changed.
You’ll need a full category A1 motorbike licence to ride motor tricycles up to power output 15kW, and a full category A motorbike licence to ride trikes with a power output more than 15kW.

Essentially, the motor tricycle is now covered under motorbike and not a car and if you’re not physically disabled and want to ride a motor tricycle you’ll now need to get the right provisional entitlement and complete CBT. The CBT must be taken on a two wheel vehicle (unless you are physically disabled).

Lambros vary in BHP but are generally less than 10BHP (unless you have tinkered with it!) and so therefore roughly 7.5W and so you can drive them on an A1 license.

 

NOVA

NOVA is HMRC's Notification Of Vehicle Arrivals scheme. It has been introduced to ensure that people liable to pay VAT on their imports do so. The NOVA scheme means that if you do not NOVA your vehicle, the DVLA will not issue you a registration plate in the UK. The most important thing with NOVA is not to panic! There are three scenarios you may find yourselves in:

1. You plan to import a vehicle.

Firstly you need to either have access to HMRC's online services or a copy of the paper NOVA form. Please do this BEFORE importing as both take a number of weeks to set up/send through. HMRC require you to register your import through the scheme within 14 days. For either method, you will be required to input your details, whether you are importing as an individual or company, the person you purchased the vehicle from, whether you and they are VAT registered and the vehicle details and price.

If you are a private individual, or a non-VAT registered business, it is highly unlikely you are liable for VAT. If you are buying from a VAT registered source - get a VAT receipt to prove you have paid it just in case. If you are buying from a private individual, get a receipt as it saves explaining to HMRC why you dont have one.

Be honest and fill in everything you can. If you are struggling, it may be easier to follow the guidelines in Option 2 or 3. The NOVA scheme is not designed to rip people off, just make sure people aren't avoiding VAT. If you need any advice, please do call HMRC and ask their advice as they are very helpful.

If you are a VAT registered business, you should speak with your accountant. This advice is designed for individuals and non-VAT registered businesses.

2. You have imported a vehicle over 14 days ago.

For example, you bought a Lambro to the UK a few years ago, have been busy restoring your new vehicle and now you find out you cannot register the vehicle without having completed NOVA.

In this instance it is best to request a paper NOVA form. Fill in the details of the vehicle, your details and supplier details and send a covering note explaining that you imported the vehicle a number of years ago and have just found out it needs to be NOVA'd. Although HMRC do say they impose penalties for NOVAs not declared within 14 days this is a new requirement of DVLA and HMRC and you can appeal to their better nature!

NB. If you imported a vehicle over 14 days ago but AFTER 15th April 2013 you may be liable for a late penalty as this is the date NOVA was launched. To date we have not heard of anyone receiving one but technically you could be issued one. It is hugely important to get the NOVA done as soon as possible. With the scheme still being fairly new, HMRC may* be more leniant (*my thoughts not a fact) in this time than when the scheme is more established.

3. You purchased a vehicle, know its an import but you have no idea when it came to the UK, who imported it or who sold it in Italy.

This is the most common situation we come across. As NOVA is fairly new, tens of thousands of vehicles will have been imported at some point in the last 50+ years and many of them have not been registered yet. We have spoken with HMRC regarding this situation and the advice is to fill in as many details as possible on a paper NOVA form and send a covering letter explaining everything you know, for example who you purchased it from in the UK, any history you know, which country it was manufactured (eg Italy). Include your phone number in the letter and ask them to call you if they need any further information. This is a grey area with NOVA, but HMRC and DVLA require the vehicles to be NOVA'd before registration and it is becoming apparent there are a lot more of these grey area vehicles than first thought! On the occasions that I have spoken with HMRC regarding NOVA, they have been exceptionally helpful and if you are struggling, please do call them.

 

MOT

Lambretta three-wheelers and Lambros require Class 3 MOTs as they fall into the '3-wheeled vehicles (up to 450kg unladen weight)' category. It is important that you ensure that you check with the MOT station BEFORE you book your MOT that they can test Class 3.

You can find your local Class 3 MOT station here: www.motuk.com

For the MOT, the Lambro must pass all of tests which relate to parts originally fitted and required by UK Road Law at the time of manufacture. For example, suspension, tyres, lights (including indicators, number plate light, sidelights etc), horn and brakes.

The only item not originally fitted but REQUIRED is a windscreen washer. If a tricycle is fitted with a windscreen it must have a washer to pass a UK MOT. There are many 'creative' options for this but we have found that drilling a small hole for a washer nozzle in cab just in front of the screen and a washer bag with switch is the tidiest and most inkeeping method of installing a washer.

If you are unsure about the requirements for an MOT, the best place to start is the MOT station you wish to use for the test. They will be able to talk you through what will be required.

 

Registering your Lambro

This is another area that seems to worry the owner's across the UK. The process of registering your Lambro has not changed very much. There are three changes to be aware of; NOVA which is detailed above, the closure of the local DVLA offices and new requirements for dating certificates.

NOVA - you must have processed your vehicle through the NOVA scheme before DVLA will issue a plate. When you send off your V55 form, the DVLA check your chassis number with HMRC to ensure it has been submitted. Once HMRC confirm it has, you are all clear for registration.

Closure of Local DVLA Offices - All of the DVLA services are now run from Swansea. Previously the DVLA may have required you to attend a vehicle inspection at your local office. As far as we know you will not be required to take your vehicle to Swansea (!) but the DVLA may still wish to inspect but if they request this they will give you all of the information you need. From our registering experience, the time taken to process the registration has not changed and in many cases is now quicker than previously.

Dating Certificates - the required wording on the dating certificates has now changed. Dating authorities are now required to inspect your frame (and if applicable) engine number. This may be done through a photograph and frame rubbing or they may wish to see your vehicle. We suspect (but are not 100% sure!) that this new requirement is related to the closure of the local offices and allows DVLA to process the applications more quickly without the need to inspect the vehicles. If you have a dating certificate issued before January 2014, it is worth contacting the organisation who issued the certificate to ask them whether it complies with the new requirements.

The Registration Process

The V55/5 form - Fill in as much information as you can. The form is fairly generic as it covers first registration of all used vehicles so some of the boxes are not applicable. Our advice is to send a covering note with the form which has your contact phone number on and ask the DVLA to call you if there is anything missing that they require. MAKE SURE your chassis number matches the number used on the NOVA submission. Sometimes they are rejected and sent back but if this happens they should provide you with details of why.

Insurance - you need a valid insurance policy on the vehicle to register it. You can insure a vehicle on chassis number for a short period of time, usually 14 days so once the insurance policy is live, send the form with the certificate straight away. It is wise to ask the insurer to send you the certificate by email. A registration plate will not be issued if your policy has expired by the time they process it.

MOT - you will need to send the MOT certfiicate for your vehicle. If you have a pre-1960 vehicle and an MOT is not required, download and send the V112 form (exemption from MOT) with your application. It is not required to register but ensures that it is made clear that the vehicle does not need one.

Posting the form - its expensive but worth sending the form by Special Delivery. It saves it going missing and having to reapply. The DVLA recommend waiting 6 weeks after applying before chasing them so ensuring it gets there may save you a great deal of time.

 

Make sure you read the required documentation carefully, including what identification your require for registration. Once you are happy, send the form, all the paperwork and your cheque to the DVLA and then you may commence watching for the postman! It will take at least 5 working days.