In general, all new motor vehicles and vehicles brought into Ireland are subject to Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) and must be registered with the Revenue Commissioners. If you are moving to Ireland or are already living here and you are importing a car or other vehicle, you will need to do 3 things before you can drive your vehicle in Ireland:
All motorists are required to carry a valid driving licence with them at all times when driving in Ireland. Driving licences include full licences, international driving licences and Irish learner permits.
Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) is a tax you must pay when you first register a motor vehicle in Ireland. If you have imported a vehicle, you must pay VRT and receive the vehicle's registration certificate showing that you have paid VRT. Any delay in registering your vehicle or paying Vehicle Registration Tax will make you liable to substantial penalties - including forfeiture of your vehicle and prosecution.
You must register the car and pay the VRT at a National Car Testing Service (NCTS) centre - see 'Rules' below. Your car will be examined to ensure that you are paying the correct VRT. In the case of cars and small vans, the amount of VRT payable is based on a percentage of the recommended retail price, which includes all taxes. This price is known as the Open Market Selling Price (OMSP). You can get an estimate of the VRT due from the Revenue Vehicle Registration Online Enquiry System.
If you feel you are being over-charged, you can appeal it with Revenue using the VRT appeals procedure. This leaflet is also available from any local Revenue office. The addresses of the appeals officers are listed at the end of the leaflet.
In certain cases foreign-registered vehicles may be imported into Ireland temporarily by a non-resident without the requirement to pay VRT or register the vehicle. A non-resident is someone who usually lives outside Ireland for at least 185 days each year and the temporary exemption is for a period of up to 12 months. A person on a task of definite duration in Ireland may be allowed an exemption for a longer period. Foreign students who are studying in Ireland may bring a foreign-registered vehicle into Ireland and the 12-month time limit will be extended to cover the completion of their course. You can find information about Foreign Registered Vehicles Temporary Exemptions on the Revenue website.
There are different reliefs and exemptions from VRT. Even if you are not required to pay VRT, you must still register your vehicle when you come to Ireland - see 'Rules' below. The following groups are exempt from paying VRT:
You can find information and forms for VRT reliefs and exemptions on the Revenue website. If you are moving to Ireland and are among those exempt from paying VRT you cannot sell your vehicle for more than 12 months after the vehicle is registered.
If you are required to pay VRT, then you can sell your vehicle here in Ireland when you wish, once it has been registered. Further information is available from your local Revenue office.
If you bring a vehicle into Ireland from abroad, you must have proof of identity and other specified documents in order to register and pay the VRT. There is a list of the required documentation on the NCTS website.
Within 7 days of your vehicle arriving in Ireland, you must book an appointment with the NCTS for it to be inspected - see 'How to apply' below. At the inspection the vehicle will be examined to ensure its characteristics match those recorded in the registration documentation. You pay the VRT charged after your vehicle has been inspected at the NCTS centre. The registration process must be completed within 30 days of the vehicle's arrival in Ireland.
Once the vehicle has been registered by the Revenue Commissioners and the VRT paid, you (or your motor dealer) will receive:
You must display the registration number within 3 days. Failure to display the new registration number is an offence and you can be fined by An Garda Síochána. You can obtain vehicle registration plates from any motor factor. There is more information in our document on vehicle registration plates. Vanity/personalised registration plates are illegal.
The vehicle registration certificate is issued to you by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. This will be posted out to you after you have applied to your local authority's motor tax office to pay your motor tax - see below.
If you are importing a new car from another EU country you have to pay VAT (Value Added Tax), usually when registering the car. A new car means a car that has been in service for 6 months or less, or has been driven for 6,000 kilometres or less. The VAT is payable even where you have paid VAT in the other country.
If you are importing a new or second hand car from outside the EU, VAT (and customs duty) is payable - see 'How to apply' below.
It is a legal requirement in Ireland to have motor insurance if you want to drive a motor vehicle in a public place.
Motor tax in Ireland is a charge imposed by the Irish Government on motor vehicles. Revenue from motor tax is used to maintain and upgrade the road network. Some vehicles are exempt.
If your vehicle is 4 years old or more it will have to go through the National Car Test (NCT) immediately. This applies even if the vehicle has previously received an MOT or any other vehicle test abroad. The NCT test certificate will be valid until the next test due date. After that if the vehicle is still in Ireland it must be tested again. You can find more information in our document on the National Car Test.
If you want to dispose of your car either due to age (typically around 12-14 years), or because of heavy damage following an accident, it must be deposited at an authorised treatment facility. There is more information in our document on how to dispose of an end-of-life vehicle.
Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) is based on the Open Market Selling Price (OMSP) of the vehicle. The OMSP depends on the market value, engine size, year, model and roadworthiness condition of the vehicle.
After the vehicle has been inspected the rate of VRT is calculated by Revenue. The VRT is collected by the NCTS on behalf of Revenue. You can pay by bank draft (payable to Applus Car Testing Service), debit card or credit card. If you are using a debit card to pay, the transaction is limited to €2,500 per day. If the VRT payment exceeds this amount, you can pay the balance by bank draft.
Since 1 July 2008 VRT for cars (Category A) is no longer based on engine size but on the level of CO2 emissions from the car. On the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland's (SEAI) website you can check the CO2 emissions levels for different car models.
A revised rates structure for Category A vehicles was announced in Budget 2013.
VRT rates for Category A vehicles from 1 January 2013
|CO2 emissions levels||VRT rates|
|Band A1||0 - 80 grams per kilometre||14% of OMSP (minimum €280)|
|Band A2||81 – 100 grams per kilometre||15% of OMSP (minimum €300)|
|Band A3||101 – 110 grams per kilometre||16% of OMSP (minimum €320)|
|Band A4||111 – 120 grams per kilometre||17% of OMSP (minimum €340)|
|Band B1||121 – 130 grams per kilometre||18% of OMSP (minimum €360)|
|Band B2||131 – 140 grams per kilometre||19% of OMSP (minimum €380)|
|Band C||141 – 155 grams per kilometre||23% of OMSP (minimum €460)|
|Band D||156 – 170 grams per kilometre||27% of OMSP (minimum €540)|
|Band E||171 – 190 grams per kilometre||30% of OMSP (minimum €600)|
|Band F||191 – 225 grams per kilometre||34% of OMSP (minimum €680)|
|Band G||over 225 grams per kilometre||36% of OMSP (minimum €720)|
Vehicle Registration Tax rates for all other categories
|B||Car derived and jeep derived vans||13.3% of OMSP (subject to a minimum tax of €125) (Since 1 January 2011, light commercial vehicles previously charged at the Category C rate have been charged at the Category B rate)|
|C||Other vehicles such as tractors, large vans, lorries, vintage cars (over 30 years old), minibuses (minimum 12 passenger seats)||From 1 May 2011 flat rate of €200 (was €50).|
|Motor caravans/motor homes||13.3% of OMSP since January 2011|
|Motorcycles (new)||€2 per cc up to 350cc and €1 per cc thereafter|
|Motorcycles (used)||As for new. Total amount is then reduced by percentage depending on age (over 30 years 100% reduction)|
|Hybrid electric vehicles and flexible fuel vehicles*||
VRT relief of up to €1,500 depending on the age of the car in respect of certain series production vehicles until 31 December 2013. .
|Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles**||VRT relief of up to €2,500 depending on the age of the car in respect of certain series production vehicles until 31 December 2013|
|Electric vehicles***||VRT relief of up to €5,000 depending on the age of the car in respect of certain series production vehicles until 31 December 2013|
|Electric motorcycles***||Exempt from VRT until 31 December 2013|
*A hybrid electric vehicle derives its power from a combination of an electric motor and an internal combustion engine and is capable of being driven on electronic propulsion alone for a material part of its normal driving cycle. A flexible fuel vehicle has an engine capable of using a blend of ethanol (minimum 80%) and petrol.
**A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle derives its motive power from a combination of an electric motor and an internal combustion engine, where the electric motor derives its power from a battery that may be charged from the internal combustion engine and an alternating current (AC) electric mains supply and is capable of being driven on electric propulsion alone for a material part of its normal driving cycle.
***An electric vehicle/motorcycle is propelled by an electric motor only.
In order to register and pay the VRT you must bring your car for an inspection to your local designated NCTS centre (there are 22 of these around the country). You must book an appointment with the NCTS within 7 days of your car's arrival into Ireland. There is detailed information about the registration process on the NCTS website. At the inspection you must bring a completed Declaration for Registration for a New or Used Vehicle/Motorcycle (pdf). Since 2 January 2014 you must also bring a completed VRT Vehicle Purchase form, VRTVPD2 (pdf). You must present them with the following documents:
If you are registering a new vehicle (less than 3 months old or travelled less than 3,000km) you must also bring an EU Whole Vehicle Type-Approval Certificate of Conformity or IVA NASSTA Certificate of Conformity. (This document will be retained by NCTS so you should keep a copy of it)
If you are registering a used vehicle (over 3 months or 3,000km) you must also bring evidence of previous registration such as foreign certificate of registration, a certificate of permanent exportation or a certificate of de-registration. (This document will be retained by NCTS so you should keep a copy of it)
If you are claiming an exemption from VRT, you must bring the exemption certificate issued by Revenue.
When enquiring about VRT rates, you need to provide specific information about your vehicle. The Revenue Commissioners have also produced a guide to VRT which is a list of frequently asked questions about VRT in Ireland. They have also produced a guide to the CO2-based VRT for cars.
If you have a query about VRT exemptions or appeals the Revenue contact details are listed here.
If you are importing a new car from another EU country VAT is payable in addition to VRT - see 'VAT' above. You pay this when you register the car. If you are importing a new or secondhand car from outside the EU, VAT and customs duty is payable. Customs duty is paid when the vehicle first enters the EU, at the point of entry. You must have proof of payment of this when you are registering the car in Ireland.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.