Guide to Car Insurance & Tax-Free Entitlement for UK Diplomats

Published: 04th May 2011
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As a diplomat here in the UK, you can enjoy a range of benefits and tax-free allowances when it comes to buying a car.

The following guide will outline what these vehicle allowances for diplomat sales are, and explain the ins and outs of international car insurance to suit your needs.

Summary of Diplomatic Entitlement Regarding Transport

Under international agreements (although subject to a range of conditions depending on individual circumstance), diplomatic missions, consulates and their senior staff are entitled to the following:

  • Acquire new means of transport from EU member-states free of VAT.

  • Buy motor vehicles manufactured in the European Union or European Free Trade Area free of VAT.

  • Receive tax and duty refunds on fuel oils.

  • Import vehicles or remove them from customs or excise warehouses free of tax and duty fees.

These allowances have quantitative limits and apply on condition that the transport is for the official use of the diplomatic mission or for the personal use of senior staff and their dependants.

Diplomatic missions and consulates are also immune from prosecution, including for parking tickets. Their senior staff are immune from detention, arrest and search of their property, including their car. They are however subject to all prohibitions and restrictions on imports and exports set by the British Government.

Thus, individuals and Legislations posted to the UK who meet the criteria laid down by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Privilege Department, can buy a vehicle without VAT or Road Tax for the duration of their stay in the UK.

There are currently a number of dealerships and international car manufacturers who have a specialised service to provide diplomats with the best deals possible under their tax-free allowance.

International Car Insurance

As a diplomat, once you have settled on the vehicle of your choice and arranged a good price with a reputable dealer, the next crucial step is to ensure you have international insurance which covers you while living in the UK.

This type of insurance is the only way to cover you adequately as a diplomat, since other types will only cover people visiting abroad for short periods of time, commonly for 30 days, and generally this will be for personal use such as a holiday break.

In addition to diplomats, International Car insurance is designed to meet the needs of other people driving abroad:

  • United Nations Agencies

  • Humanitarian Organisations

  • International Businesses

  • International Charities

  • International Schools

  • Religious Orders

  • Expatriates.

Before choosing the best deal on an international insurance policy, it is important to firstly check the local laws here in the UK or any other country you’ll be performing your diplomatic duties in. Some countries require you to be insured by local companies because Loss or Damage Car Insurance may not include third party liability. The reason for this is that this would need to be arranged to comply with local laws and regulations of the country in which your car is being used. To be sure about how this works, check with the Foreign Office for advice.

All in all, International Car Insurance should include protection against:

  • Accidental damage, fire and theft.

  • Civil commotion, riot, armed robbery and hijacking.

  • Hurricanes, earthquakes and flooding.

  • For non-commercial policies, payment of the purchase price for a seriously damaged or stolen car that is less than 12 months old.

  • Immediate international car insurance cover anywhere in the world (this will not include the USA and Canada).

  • Windscreen breakage.

  • Issues with fitted accessories such as audio equipment.


These days, there is a range of reputable and dedicated UK providers of diplomatic sales for tax-free deals on vehicles and International Car Insurance. Even though you have special entitlements as a diplomat, the same buying rules that anyone should follow apply – be sure to research and compare the available offers to find the deal that suits your needs best.

About the Author: Stephen Gransville: car enthusiast and independent adviser on diplomatic sales for vehicles.

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