Importing a vehicle into Ireland

Introduction

If you are moving to Ireland, you may decide to bring your vehicle with you. You have to register the vehicle in Ireland and you may have to pay additional charges and taxes.

If you live in Ireland and decide to buy a car from another country, you should check all the extra costs that are involved in registering and taxing the vehicle in Ireland.

Buying a car from the UK is more expensive and difficult since the start of 2021.

This page guides you on the steps involved to bringing a vehicle into Ireland if you are doing it for yourself, rather than using a car dealer.

Types of vehicles

There are many different types of motorised vehicle. For the purposes of Vehicle Registration a ‘mechanically propelled vehicle’ is:

  • Designed for road use
  • Powered by mechanical or electrical means (or a combination of both)

The following are types of ‘mechanically propelled vehicles’ and their VRT category:

Vehicle classification VRT category
All Cars, including SUVs

Mini bus with up to 10 seats

A
Commercial vehicles like vans and trucks up to 3.5 tonnes B
Commercial vehicles like vans and trucks, over 3.5 tonnes

Tractors

Buses with more than 10 seats

C
Road construction transportation vehicles

Ambulances and fire engines

D
Motorbikes M

Some types of vehicles may be classified as ‘mechanically propelled’ for VRT, depending on certain factors.

Ebikes or battery powered scooters are ‘mechanically propelled’ if they can move without you pedalling or scooting them. If the power only works after you have got the scooter or bike moving by cycling or scooting it, it is not ‘mechanically propelled.’

Importing a vehicle from the UK

If you decide to buy a new or used car from the UK directly (not through an Irish dealer), you have to pay additional charges.

You have to pay:

  • A customs duty if the vehicle is arriving from Great Britain (see ‘Customs declarations and duties’ below).
  • VRT when the vehicle is registered (unless it is exempt)
  • VAT on all new cars, and on used cars imported from Great Britain (including vehicles imported to Northern Ireland from Great Britain).

If you are buying a vehicle from Northern Ireland which was previously registered in Great Britain, you should make sure that you get documents to show that customs duties were paid on arrival into Northern Ireland.

Customs declarations and duties

Under the trade agreement between the UK and the EU, items that have their origin in the UK can be exported to the EU (including Ireland) without customs duties or tariffs. But the rules on country of origin are complicated and mean that even new vehicles bought from Great Britain may be liable to customs charges if, for example, the vehicle was imported into Great Britain from another country before being sold.

Northern Ireland continues to be treated as part of the EU under the trade agreement. This means vehicles imported from Great Britain to Northern Ireland have to go through customs and may have customs duties applied to them.

If you import a vehicle from Great Britain, you must make a customs declaration. You may have to pay customs duty:

  • If the vehicle’s country of origin is the UK, you do not have to pay a customs duty if it is a new vehicle. Customs charges apply to all used vehicles imported from Great Britain.
  • If the vehicle’s country of origin is the EU or a third country (for example Japan or USA), you have to pay customs duty at 10% of the value of the vehicle plus the cost of shipping

If you buy a vehicle from Northern Ireland, you do not have to make a customs declaration. But you must have proof that a customs declaration was made when the vehicle arrived in Northern Ireland from Great Britain (if applicable).

Paying the customs charge

You must pay the customs charge at the time the vehicle arrives in Ireland from Great Britain. This means you have to declare the vehicle with customs when you are entering Ireland or Northern Ireland at the ferry port. If you are importing the car using a shipping company, the shipping company should arrange the customs declaration and charge.

You can claim a relief from customs if you are transferring your residence to Ireland from the UK and you were using the vehicle for more than 6 months in the UK before you moved to Ireland.

VAT

You have to pay VAT on all used and new cars imported from Great Britain. If you buy a car in Northern Ireland, you only have to pay VAT in Ireland on new cars. An extra VAT charge could apply if the vehicle was not properly imported from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

You can claim a VAT relief if you are transferring your residence to Ireland from the UK and you were using the vehicle for more than 6 months in the UK before you moved to Ireland.

VAT is charged at the rate of 21%.

VRT and registration

You have to register your vehicle in Ireland within 30 days. You have to pay Vehicle Registration Tax unless the vehicle is exempt.

You register the vehicle at a National Car Test (NCT) centre. You have to book an appointment online or by phoning 01-4135975. Before taking your vehicle for registration you must register the certificate of conformity with Revenue.

When you go to register you should have the following documents:

  • A completed Declaration Form for the registration of a new vehicle or for the registration of a used vehicle
  • A completed Vehicle Purchase Details VRTVPD2 form if it is a vehicle for private (non- commercial) use
  • A certificate of conformity (for new vehicles)
  • An invoice with the date of purchase clearly shown
  • Proof of your name and address
  • Proof of your identity
  • Proof of your PPS number
  • An exemption certificate issued by Revenue if you are claiming an exemption from VRT

If the vehicle was imported from Northern Ireland and your invoice is dated more than 30 days before your appointment, you must have details of where the vehicle was stored. If the vehicle was imported to Northern Ireland from the EU, you must have the shipping details that show the date the vehicle arrived. If the vehicle was imported from Great Britain, or another non-EU country, you need the ‘single administrative number’ and the date it was issued by customs at the point of entry.

You can buy your registration plates at the test centre and pay the VRT that is due.

Motor tax, NCT and insurance

You have to pay motor tax and the vehicle may have to have a National Car Testing certificate. You must have motor insurance to drive in Ireland.

Importing a vehicle from the EU

If you are importing a car from the EU, you have to:

  • Register the vehicle
  • Pay VRT unless you are exempt
  • Pay VAT unless the vehicle is exempt
  • Pay motor tax
  • Get motor insurance

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. For example:

  • Vehicle is 5 months old with 8,000km - chargeable to VAT
  • Vehicle is 7 months old with 5,000km - chargeable to VAT
  • Vehicle is 7 months old with 8,000km - not chargeable to VAT

The VAT is payable even where you have paid VAT in the other country.

NCT

If the vehicle is 4 years or older, you must have it tested by the National Car Testing Service. You can use an EU Road Worthiness Certificate in Ireland until it expires. You have to take the NCT when your Certificate expires.

Importing a vehicle from outside the EU

If you are importing a car from outside the EU you have to:

  • Pay a customs duty
  • Register the vehicle
  • Pay VRT unless you are exempt
  • Pay VAT unless the vehicle is exempt
  • Pay motor tax
  • Get motor insurance

The customs charge must be paid when the vehicle enters the EU (including Ireland) or Northern Ireland.

VAT must be paid at the rate of 21%.

If the vehicle is 4 years or older, you must have it tested by the National Car Testing Service. If the vehicle has a current EU Roadworthiness Certificate, you can have the time remaining on the certificate recognised in Ireland. This means you will not have to take an NCT, until your certificate expires.

Vehicle Registration Tax

Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) is a tax you must pay when you first register your vehicle in Ireland. If you have imported a vehicle, you must pay VRT and get the vehicle's registration certificate showing that you have paid VRT. If you delay in registering your vehicle or paying Vehicle Registration Tax you have to pay a penalty. Your vehicle could be also be seized.

You must register the car and pay the VRT at a National Car Testing Service (NCTS) centre. The inspector examines your car to make sure 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.

Revenue has a guide to VRT which is a list of frequently asked questions about VRT in Ireland.

If you feel you are being over-charged, you can appeal it with Revenue using the VRT appeals procedure.

How to register your vehicle

You must book an appointment with the NCTS within 7 days of your car's arrival into Ireland and you must complete the registration process within 30 days of your arrival.

Your vehicle must have an electronic Certificate of Conformity (e-CoC) before it is registered. If you only have a paper version of your e-CoC, you must manually input the details onto the Revenue system.

You must have a Personal Public Service Number (PPS number), proof of identity (for example your passport or driving licence) and other specified documents in order to register and pay the VRT. There is a list of the documents required on revenue.ie. You must also be able to locate the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN number, this is sometimes called the chassis number) for the vehicle inspector when presenting the vehicle for inspection.

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

  • 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 get vehicle registration plates from the NCTS centre or any motor accessories dealer.
  • 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.

Vehicle registration plates

When you register and pay the VRT, a registration number will be assigned to your car. You must display the registration number within 3 days. You are committing an offence if you fail to display the new registration number and you can be fined by An Garda Síochána. You can get vehicle registration plates from the NCTS centre or any motor accessories dealer.

Exemptions from VRT

There are different reliefs and exemptions from VRT. Even if you do not have to pay VRT, you must still register your vehicle when you come to Ireland. You can find information on VRT reliefs and exemptions, and VRT reduction for certain electrical vehicles for certain electric vehicles, on Revenue’s website.

Transferring residence: If you are moving to live in Ireland, when you apply for a VRT exemption, you must meet certain requirements as regards your vehicle and your residency both here and abroad. You can find information about when to apply for exemption, the evidence you need and the application forms in the Revenue leaflet, Transfer of Residence.

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 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.

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

Export repayment scheme

If you are permanently removing or exporting a car from Ireland, you may be able to claim a repayment of the VRT that had been paid previously. Information about the Export Repayment Scheme and claim forms are available on revenue.ie.

VRT 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.

VRT for cars (Category A) is based on the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the car and, since 1 January 2020, the car’s nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.

CO2 charge for Category A vehicles

CO2 emissions levels VRT rates
0 - 50 grams per kilometre 7% of OMSP (minimum €140)
50 – 80 grams per kilometre 9% of OMSP (minimum €180)
80 –85 grams per kilometre 9.75% of OMSP (minimum €195)
85 –90 grams per kilometre 10.5% of OMSP (minimum €210)
90 –95 grams per kilometre 11.25% of OMSP (minimum €225)
95 - 100 grams per kilometre 12% of OMSP (minimum €240)
100 –105 grams per kilometre 12.75% of OMSP (minimum €255)
105 - 110 grams per kilometre 13.5% of OMSP (minimum €270)
110 – 115 grams per kilometre 14.25% of OMSP (minimum €285)
115 – 120 grams per kilometre 15% of OMSP (minimum €300)
120 – 125 grams per kilometre 15.75% of OMSP (minimum €315)
125 – 130 grams per kilometre 16.5% of OMSP (minimum €330)
130 – 135 grams per kilometre 17.25% of OMSP (minimum €345)
135 – 140 grams per kilometre 18% of OMSP (minimum €360)
140 - 145 grams per kilometre 19.5% of OMSP (minimum €390)
145 – 150 grams per kilometre 21% of OMSP (minimum €420)
150 – 155 grams per kilometre 23.5% of OMSP (minimum €470)
155 – 170 grams per kilometre 26% of OMSP (minimum €520)
170 - 190 grams per kilometre 31% of OMSP (minimum €620)
More than 190 grams per kilometre 37% of OMSP (minimum €740)

A Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) charge is combined with the existing CO2 charges to form the VRT payable.

You have to give evidence of the vehicle’s NOx emissions to finalise registration. If you do not give this information, you will be charged a flat rate.

The NOx charge is calculated according to the following table:

NOx emissions (NOx mg/km or mg/kWh) Amount payable per mg/km or mg/kWh
The first 0-40 mg/km or mg/kWh €5
The next 40 mg/km or mg/kWh up to 80 mg/km or mg/kWh €15
The rest above 80 mg/km or mg/kWh €25

If you do not give enough information about the NOx emissions these maximum charges will apply:

•Diesel vehicles: €4,850

or

•All others: €600

The NOx charge replaces the 1% VRT surcharge on all diesel engine passenger cars that was in place in 2019.

Vehicle Registration Tax rates for all other categories

Category Vehicle VRT rate
B Commercial vehicles, designed and constructed for the carriage of goods and not exceeding 3.5 tonnes 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
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 2021 Electric motorcycles*** Exempt from VRT until 31 December 2021

***An electric vehicle/motorcycle is propelled by an electric motor only.

Contact details

If you have a query about VRT exemptions, appeals or transfer of residence, the Revenue contact details are listed on revenue.ie.

Page edited: 4 March 2021