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Importing a vehicle into Ireland

Information

In general, all vehicles brought into Ireland are subject to Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) and must be registered with Revenue. 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 4 things before you can drive your vehicle in Ireland:

  • Pay Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) (unless you are exempt)
  • Get new vehicle registration plates
  • Get motor insurance
  • Pay motor tax

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

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 'How to apply' 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.

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 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.

Exemptions

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. You can find information and forms for VRT reliefs and exemptions on the Revenue website.

Temporary exemptions: 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. You can find information about Foreign Registered Vehicles Temporary Exemptions on the Revenue website.

If you have a query about VRT exemptions or appeals the Revenue contact details are listed here.

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.

VAT, insurance, motor tax and NCT

VAT

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. 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 - see 'How to apply' below.

Vehicle registration plates

When you register and pay the VRT, a registration number will be assigned to your car – see ‘How to apply’ below. 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 the NCTS centre or any motor factor.

Motor insurance

It is a legal requirement in Ireland to have motor insurance if you want to drive a motor vehicle in a public place. You will need to have motor insurance before you can pay motor tax. You can find more information in our document on motor insurance.

Motor tax

Motor tax in Ireland is a charge imposed by the Irish Government on motor vehicles. Some vehicles are exempt but must display a current tax disc if used in a public place . Your Vehicle Registration Certificate will be issued to you by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport when you pay your motor tax. There is more information in our document on motor tax.

National Car Test

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.

Disposing of a car

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.

Rates

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 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

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

Category Vehicle VRT rate
B Car derived and jeep derived vans 13.3% of OMSP (subject to a minimum tax of €125)
C Other vehicles such as tractors, large vans, lorries, vintage cars (over 30 years old), minibuses (minimum 12 passenger seats) Flat rate of €200
Motor caravans/motor homes 13.3% of OMSP
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 2014

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 2014
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 2014
Electric motorcycles*** Exempt from VRT until 31 December 2014

*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.

How to apply

In order to register and pay the VRT you must bring your car for an inspection to your local designated NCTS centre. You must book an appointment with the NCTS within 7 days of your car's arrival into Ireland. 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. You must also be able to locate the chassis number for the vehicle inspector when presenting the vehicle for inspection.

At the inspection the vehicle will be examined to ensure its characteristics match those recorded in the registration documentation. The details will be used by Revenue to assess the amount of VRT payable, based on the value of the car. You pay the VRT charged to the NCTS. The registration process must be completed within 30 days of the vehicle's arrival in Ireland.

Once the vehicle has been registered and the VRT paid, you will receive:

  • A receipt for the VRT paid showing the registration number assigned to your car. You must display the registration number within 3 days. You can obtain vehicle registration plates from the NCTS centre or any motor factor.
  • A Form RF100 for use when you are applying to pay motor tax. To pay motor tax, you will need to insure the car and have your insurance details. You can pay motor tax online at motortax.ie or at the Motor Taxation Office of your local authority. After you have paid the motor tax, the Vehicle Registration Certificate will be issued to you by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

If the car is 4 years old or more it must also undergo the National Car Test immediately – see ‘National Car Test’ above.

There is detailed information about the registration process on the NCTS website.

Page updated: 5 September 2014

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Contact Us

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.