Buying a new car
When you buy a new car from a garage or car dealer, you are entering into a consumer contract. Like all other consumer contracts, you have certain rights under consumer protection law.
When you are buying a new car, you have the right to expect that the car is of satisfactory quality, is fit for purpose and is described accurately by the seller. If you find something wrong with the car after buying it, you have the right to ask the seller to put things right (for example, by repairing or replacing the car or refunding your money). Your consumer rights are set out in the Sale of Goods and Associated Guarantees Act 1980.
Consumer rights only apply to deals between a consumer (a person who buys something for personal use or consumption) and a trader (a person who sells goods or services as part of their trade, business or profession). This means that if you have bought a car from another individual in a consumer-to-consumer (C2C) deal or for commercial use in a business-to-business (B2B) deal, you may not have the same rights if something goes wrong.
If you cannot pay the full cost of your car immediately, there are several car finance options available.
Getting a personal loan
Many banks, building societies and credit unions offer car loans. You borrow the money and own the car immediately. You pay back the money in monthly instalments and usually pay fees and interest to the lender.
Hire purchase (HP) agreements
HP is a type of credit that is often offered by garages and car dealers. Under HP, you rent the car, and pay the cost in regular instalments to your lender (who is usually a bank, a building society or finance companies). You can use the car but cannot sell it without the lender’s permission. The lender owns the car until you make the final payment. Read more about hire purchase.
Personal Contract Plans (PCPs)
A PCP is similar to a HP agreement. You pay regular instalments and do not own the car until you have made the final payment. The major difference is that you pay lower monthly instalments but owe more money at the end of the PCP agreement.
You should always shop around, compare prices and make sure you know what you are agreeing to before signing a car finance contract. If a garage or car dealer is offering to arrange finance, they are acting as an agent (or a credit intermediary) for a finance company and will earn commission for arranging the loan. Agents must be authorised by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC). The CCPC keeps a register of credit intermediaries.
Electric vehicles grant scheme
The Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland (SEAI) offers a grant scheme for battery-powered electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrids (PHEV) meeting specific standards.
You can get a grant of up to €5,000, depending on the ‘list price’ of the vehicle. However, you cannot get a grant for vehicles with a list price of less than €14,000.
Your car dealer will apply for the grant for you, and then deduct the grant amount from the total price of your car.
You can also apply for the Home Charger Grant Scheme, for up to €600 towards the installation costs of a home charger.
Changes from 1 July 2021
From 1 July 2021, the grant amount for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) will reduce from €5,000 to €2,500.
You can continue to get a grant of up to €5,000 for battery-powered electric vehicles (BEV).
The grant for both BEVs and PHEVs will only apply to cars under €60,000 from 1 July 2021.
If you are replacing your old car, trading it in can help to bring down the cost of a new one. You should shop around and see what different garages or car dealerships will offer for your old car as a trade-in.
You should find out what your car is worth before taking it to a dealer. You can get independent expert advice on this from a qualified mechanic or by doing your own research online on motorcheck.ie. Note that a garage or car dealer is likely to pay less for it than if you sell it yourself. The CCPC has more tips about trade-ins.
Registration and VRT
When you buy a car in Ireland, or import it, you must meet a number of legal requirements.
For example, all new vehicles, except those brought in temporarily by visitors, are subject to Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) and must be registered with Revenue. VRT is payable when the car is first registered.
Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT)
If you buy the car from a dealer, they will register it and pay the VRT to Revenue. This means the total you pay for the vehicle should include the cost of VRT. Value Added Tax (VAT) is also charged on the sale of most products.
After the dealer registers the car and pays the VRT, they will get:
- A receipt for the VRT paid, showing the car’s registration number
- An RF100 form
When buying a car, make sure the dealer gives you the correct VRT receipt and RF100 form. You will need this when applying to your local motor tax office.
Registering a car yourself (without a dealer)
In all other cases (for example, where you buy a car abroad and bring it into Ireland), you are responsible for registering the vehicle at a National Car Testing Service Centre (NCTS). You can book an appointment online or over-the-phone. The following timeframes apply:
- Booking an appointment for vehicle testing: this must be done within 7 days of the vehicle entering Ireland
- Registering the vehicle: this must be done within 30 days of it arriving into Ireland
Find out more about importing a vehicle to Ireland.
The European Consumer Centre (ECC) Ireland also has a factsheet with information about registering a vehicle in Ireland (pdf).
Tax relief and exemptions
There are different reductions, reliefs and exemptions from VRT.
You may also claim tax relief under the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme.
If you buy your car from a dealer (for example, a car show room), they must register it and provide you with registration plates on collection. The plates must be displayed on the car within 3 days from the date of registration.
The dealer must also have the new registration plates fitted before you take it away.
If you register the car yourself at an NCT centre and your VRT payment has been accepted, Revenue will give you the registration number assigned to the vehicle. You can buy Irish number plates at the NCT centre on the day of the inspection.
You must register the vehicle before you can pay motor tax. It is an offence to drive an unregistered vehicle in Ireland.
Vehicle registration certificate
The vehicle registration certificate for your car is issued by the Department of Transport. This will be posted out to you after you have applied to your local motor tax office to pay motor tax on your vehicle.
By law, you must pay motor tax for your vehicle. Motor tax is a charge set by the Government and collected by local authorities. You can pay motor tax for a new vehicle:
The amount of tax depends on the type of car you have bought. For new cars, motor tax is calculated on the vehicle’s CO2 emissions. When taxing a new or imported car, you will need to provide the RF100 form (from the motor dealer).
When paying for motor tax, you must provide:
- The RF100 form to show that you own the vehicle
- The vehicle registration number
- Your vehicle insurance details
- Payment details (for example, credit or debit card)
- Your personal identification (for online) – this is the last 6 characters of the vehicle’s chassis number which can be found on the RF100 form
Find out more in our page on motor tax.
By law, you must have motor insurance before you can drive in a public place and you must display the insurance disc on the windscreen. It is a serious offence to drive without insurance. If you do, you could be fined, have penalty points put on your driving licence, or be disqualified from driving.
Find out more in our page on motor insurance.
Vehicle labellingA colour-coded labelling system for new cars shows their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. These labels are displayed on, or near, any new car for sale.
The first section of the label shows the emission band for the vehicle. The second section of the label tells you:
- How much fuel the vehicle will use over 18,000km
- The annual motor tax
- The rate of VRT
Other sections give information such as the make, engine capacity, and fuel
type of the car.
If things go wrong
If you have a problem with a new car that you have bought, contact the seller (the garage or car dealership) so that they can put it right. If you cannot resolve the problem or you are not satisfied with the response, you can contact:
- Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) – The CCPC has particular responsibility for regulating credit intermediaries (such as finance companies that offer loans). You can contact the CCPC for advice about consumer issues, such as faulty cars, regulation of credit intermediaries and unfair commercial practices.
- Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) – SIMI represents the motor industry in Ireland. SIMI members include dealers, repairers, wholesalers, retailers and vehicle testers. All SIMI members must follow a code of ethics. It may be able to help you, through its consumer complaints mediation service.
Learn more about how to make a complaint.
The CCPC website has more information about buying cars.