Generally, all new cars and cars that are imported into Ireland are subject to Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) and must be registered with the Revenue Commissioners. If you are buying a new car or are importing a car into Ireland from abroad, you will need to do three things before you can drive your car:
All motorists are required to carry a valid driving licence with them at all times when driving. Further information is available in our documents on learner driving permits and full driving licences.
Since July 2008 a labelling system has been introduced which allows consumers to compare the carbon (CO2) emissions of new cars. The first section of the label shows the seven emission bands and identifies the band for the particular vehicle to which a label is attached. The second section of the label provides three important points of information for consumers:
The third section of the label supplements the information provided in the first and second sections, and introduces the importance of driving behaviour. The remaining sections of the label provide essential information on the actual vehicle to which it is attached, including make, model, engine capacity, transmission, fuel type and consumption.
Every new car in Ireland is liable for Vehicle Registration Tax, which is payable when the car is first registered. This is a legal requirement and any delay in registering your car or paying the tax may lead to substantial penalties.
Imported cars must also be registered. To register an imported car, you must book an appointment at an NCTS centre to have the car examined and to pay the VRT. See our document on importing a car.
If you buy your new car from a dealer (car showrooms, etc.), then it is the dealer's responsibility to register the vehicle and pay the tax before giving it to you. The price of the vehicle should include the cost of the VRT. Your vehicle will be supplied to you with its registration plates already fitted.
Once the vehicle has been registered and the VRT paid, you (or your motor dealer) will receive:
Vehicle registration plates showing the assigned registration number must be displayed on your car within 3 days of the date of registration. If you buy your car from a dealer, it will have its registration plates fitted by the time you take possession of it. If you buy the car privately, you will need to get registration plates - most motor dealers make these to order.
The vehicle registration certificate for your car is issued by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. This will be posted out to you after you have applied to your local motor tax office to pay motor tax on your vehicle.
It is a legal requirement in Ireland to have motor insurance if you want to drive your car in a public place. Read more about the requirement for motor insurance here.
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. The charge for motor tax for a new car is based on the car's CO2 emissions and on engine size for other vehicles. Some vehicles are exempt. Read more about the requirement for motor tax here.
There are different reliefs and exemptions from VRT and further information is available from your local Revenue tax office. Relief is also available for;
NOTE: 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 tax office.
There is an exemption from VRT for series production electric vehicles until 31 December 2013.
From January 2011 until December 2012, a grant scheme is available for battery-powered electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrids meeting specific standards. The grants are as follows:
Further information on the grant scheme is available on the website of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).
A car scrappage scheme was introduced from January to December 2010. Under the scheme VRT relief of up to €1,500 was provided where a car of 10 years or older was scrapped and a new car of CO2 emissions bands A or B purchased. The scheme was extended for the period January 2011 to June 2011 with reduced VRT relief of up to €1,250.
Being scrapped meant that the old car has been taken to an official End of Life Vehicles (ELV) authorised treatment facility and a Certificate of Destruction issued by the facility in respect of the car.
If you are bringing your car to Ireland temporarily (i.e., while on holiday, a business trip, etc.) you do not have to pay VRT on the vehicle.
If you are importing a new car from another EU country you have to pay VAT, 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.
More information is available in our document on importing a vehicle into Ireland.
Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) is based on the Open Market Selling Price (OMSP) of the vehicle. You may be able to obtain an estimate of the VRT for a vehicle from Revenue's Vehicle Registration on-line Enquiry System.
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. A revised rates structure for Category A vehicles was announced in Budget 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)|
On Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland's (SEAI) Power of One website you can check the CO2 emissions levels for different car models.
|B||Car derived and jeep derived vans||13.3% of OMSP (minimum €125) (Since 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 a percentage depending on age. (Over 30 years 100% reduction)|
|Hybrid electric 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 it's 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.
The Revenue Commissioners have produced a useful list of Frequently Asked Questions about VRT 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.