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Buying a new car in Ireland


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:

  • Pay Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT)
  • Have motor insurance
  • Pay motor tax

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.

Vehicle labelling

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 rate of VRT payable on the vehicle,
  • the annual motor tax payable
  • the amount of fuel required to run the vehicle over 18,000 kilometres

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.

Vehicle Registration Tax

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.

Buying from a car dealer

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:

  • A receipt for the VRT paid showing the registration number assigned to your car.
  • A Form RF 100 for use when you are applying for road tax.

Vehicle registration plates

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.

Vehicle registration certificate

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.

Motor Insurance

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

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.

Tax reliefs and exemptions

There are different reliefs and exemptions from VRT and further information is available from your local Revenue tax office. Relief is also available for;

  • certain disabled drivers
  • Visitors to Ireland who have owned their vehicles abroad for more than 6 months and who will be resident here temporarily
  • People who have owned their vehicles abroad for more than 6 months and who are moving permanently to Ireland
  • People posted to Ireland as part of the diplomatic corps

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.

Electric cars

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:

  • €5,000 for BEVs costing €20,000 or more
  • €2,000 to €4,500 for BEVs costing less than €20,000
  • €2,500 for hybrids costing €18,000 or more

Further information on the grant scheme is available on the website of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).

Car scrappage scheme

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.

Importing a 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.

VRT Rates

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.

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)

On Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland's (SEAI) Power of One website you can check the CO2 emissions levels for different car models.

Vehicle Registration Tax Rates for other vehicles
Category Vehicle VRT rate
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.

Further information

The Revenue Commissioners have produced a useful list of Frequently Asked Questions about VRT in Ireland.

Page updated: 27 January 2014


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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.