Can I travel more than 100 miles to collect a car during lockdown?

A reader asks if he'll be breaking the law if he travels across the country to collect a second-hand car he's bought online...

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I recently purchased an Approved Used BMW from Wollaston Motors in Northampton. I live in Sussex and am unsure what the rules are for picking up a click-and-collect vehicle from that distance. 

I have a legal contract with the seller and therefore have a contractual obligation to pick the car up, so I have a ‘legal’ reason to leave my house, but the Government advice is to shop local.

So, I would appreciate some advice as to whether I can legally travel to Northampton and drive home without breaking the law.

I am currently carless, having returned my previous vehicle to the lease company, if this makes a difference to the situation. 

Phil Allen

What Car? says...

You're right: the government guidance during lockdown is that you should only leave home for permitted reasons, such as to buy food or medicine and for exercise. You are also allowed to collect goods you have ordered, and that includes new and used cars that have been purchased remotely from dealerships. 

However, the guidance also states that people should “stay local” when they leave home, which means you should “stay in the village, town, or part of the city where you live”.

As you say, you are currently without a car, and if you need one to make essential journeys, collecting the car you’ve bought could be seen as a valid journey. However, that depends on how the guidelines are interpreted; if a police officer stops you and believes you shouldn’t have chosen to buy a car from a dealership that’s more than 100 miles from your home, you could be landed with a £200 fine for making an unnecessarily long journey. 

If you want to play it safe, our advice would be to speak to the dealership to see if they either have a dealership closer to you that they could transport the car to, or if they are able to sort out delivering to you.

It’s also worth contacting some independent car transportation companies and see if any of them can deliver the car at a reasonable cost. As long as you can get it delivered for less than £200, it’ll cost less than the fine you could get for collecting it yourself.

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