Importing a car from the UK to Ireland [9 key steps]
Following the Brexit referendum result in June 2016, the value of sterling fell dramatically against the euro. The British pound fell 8.5% against the euro overnight on the news that the UK had voted to leave the EU and over the following 3 months the decline stretched to almost 18%.
Irish consumers looking to purchase goods from the UK were capitalising on the weakened British pound and discovered that they could get more value for their euros, especially when purchasing high-value items.
Nowhere has this been more evident than by the steady increase in car imports from the UK to Ireland since 2016.
RTE reported that, in the first six months of 2018, the Society of the Irish Motor Industry registered 49,971 used car imports from the UK, a 12% increase on the same period in 2017, and a 64% increase on the pre-referendum level seen in the first half of 2016.
If you are importing a car form the UK to Ireland, we have put together a list of the fundamental steps to take to make the process as seamless as possible. We have also updated this article to include fundamental changes to the importation process post January 2021, namely around customs declaration, import duty and VAT:
Please note: The content used in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or commercial advice. We would strongly advise that you consult the links to official sources where mentioned herein and are satisfied with the research you have taken independently.
- Sourcing your vehicle >
- Consider all associated costs > [Updated Jan 2021]
- Complete a UK car inspection/history check >
- Inform UK authorities that you are importing a car into Ireland >
- Complete a customs declaration > [Updated Jan 2021]
- Register your car at the National Car Testing Service (NCTS) >
- Pay VRT on your UK car import > [Updated Jan 2021]
- Getting your plates >
- Pay your motor tax and insurance >
1. Sourcing your vehicle
With an abundance of websites literally at your fingertips, you can commence the search from the comfort of your own sitting room. Some of the more popular options include autotrader.co.uk, british-car-auctions.co.uk and motors.co.uk.
There are also a number of options if you are looking to buy a car from Northern Ireland and very often this can work out cheaper in terms of collecting the vehicle and bringing it back home.
For a start, you remove the expense involved with booking flights or a ferry and accommodation (if necessary), not to mention the time saved. Check out usedcarsni.com or browse websites of popular car dealers in Northern Ireland such as Charles Hurst Group.
2. Consider all associated costs
Buying a car in the UK and bringing it back to Ireland can be an attractive option, especially when you see the price tag on the windscreen. But have you factored in total associated costs of the purchase?
Will you be flying over or taking a ferry and will you need accommodation? Are you taking the car back to Ireland yourself or are you considering taking delivery of your new vehicle? For those looking at the transportation option, there are some reputable companies who will facilitate this for approximately €500.
Other important costs to consider:
Cost of Sterling (FX)
Getting a better deal on the EUR/GBP exchange rate could save you enough money to tax your new car for a year. High street banks charge up to 5% on their foreign exchange services with additional fees that could end up costing you more than you had anticipated.
Fexco offers car buyers competitive FX rates on a EUR/GBP exchange. Dedicated account managers can also advise on the timing of payment, making sure your transfer is delivered on the same day if necessary. This can be critical when you need to get your car back to Ireland without delay.
Get a free GBP to EUR quote for your car purchase today
Customs Duty & VAT
There are significant changes to the cost of importing a used car after January 1 2021. This could impact your decision on whether to import or not so it is important to take note of such changes.
Up until the end of the Brexit transition period (to December 31 2020), Irish motorists importing a used car from the UK were not subject to paying VAT if the car was less than six months old or if the vehicle had less than 6,000 km on the clock. There was also no import duty to pay.
Importing a used car from the UK after 1st January 2021 – what has changed?
As Britain has now left the European Union, importation of a vehicle from the UK is now treated as an importation from a third country, that is, a non-EU country. From 1 January 2021 you will now be required to do the following when importing a car from Great Britain to Ireland:
- Complete a customs declaration
- Customs duty to be paid (up to 10%) if applicable
- Pay Value Added Tax (VAT) at 21% prior to presenting the vehicle for registration
If a vehicle is being imported from Northern Ireland, no import duty will apply but you may be liable to pay:
- Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT)
- VAT at 21% (only for new cars).
There are zero tariffs and zero quotas on all UK origin goods traded between Great Britain and the EU but there is a rules of origin stipulation when it comes to goods imported.
According to Revenue.ie, the following vehicles imported from Great Britain will have tariffs applied as they will not qualify as UK origin under the rules of origin:
- Vehicles of EU origin used in the UK
- Vehicles of other third country origin used in the UK. This is even if the EU has Free Trade
We advise you to follow the above links to determine if tariffs will be applied to your vehicle.
VRT & Registration
Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) is a tax you must pay when you first register a motor vehicle in Ireland. 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). Revenue.ie has a useful VRT Calculator to help you determine if it is worth buying your car outside of Ireland.
VRT has to be paid on all cars imported to Ireland and this has to be shown on the registration certificate. Any car brought into Ireland will need to be registered at a National Car Testing Service (NCTS) centre.
Make sure to make an appointment within seven days of bringing the car to Ireland and have it registered within 30 days. Failure to do so will incur additional costs.
3. Complete a UK car inspection/history check
You like the look of your dream car and the price even more so, but before you make the purchase you need to be aware that a vehicle could end up costing you more than just the selling price in the long term. Some advisory steps to ensure you are accounting for any potential additional costs include:
Get a RAC Vehicle Inspection to determine if the car is roadworthy. This will give a structural and mechanical report of any vehicle in the UK. The current fee of £99 for the basic package consists of a 218–point inspection but if you are keen on a more detailed report it will currently cost you £239.
To book a vehicle inspection you will need the vehicle registration number, the seller’s permission and the address where the vehicle is kept.
It’s very important as a buyer that you perform a full check on any vehicle to be imported into Ireland from the UK before you buy. An auto history check from the AA will investigate issues around any outstanding car finance or loans or if the vehicle was ever reported as stolen. You can request a comprehensive car history check from just £6.
4. Inform UK authorities that you are importing a car into Ireland
When you have purchased the car, there are a number of steps you must take before leaving the UK:
Get the V5C registration/logbook from the seller which will be needed later. You should also have an invoice with sale details including the date purchased and final price paid.
Notification of permanent export
Before you leave, you will need to fill out the V5C/4 section of your logbook which details ‘notification of permanent export’ and get in contact with the UK’s Driver & Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) to notify of your intention to export the vehicle.
Form VAT411 will also need to be completed and is a declaration that the buyer isn’t liable for VAT in the UK but will pay the VAT due in the destination state (see point on VAT above).
5. Complete a customs declaration
As Britain has formally left the EU, the importation of a vehicle from the UK is now treated as an import from a non-EU country.
This means that you will need to complete a customs declaration for your imported car, placing the Vehicle Identification Number on the customs declaration in the appropriate field.
Please consult the eCustoms Notification 33 / 2020 provided by Revenue for further information.
The Customs Technical Helpdesk can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org should you encounter any technical difficulties in completing the declaration. Please note also that failure to complete the declaration could result in seizure of the vehicle.
You will have 30 days to register the vehicle once it enters the state and NCT centres will contact Revenue to make sure the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is associated with a customs declaration before registration.
6. Register your car at the National Car Testing Service (NCTS)
You must have your car booked in for an appointment at the NCTS within 7 days of its arrival in Ireland for a VRT inspection.
This is a pre-registration examination of the vehicle carried out on behalf of the Revenue Commissioners and you need to declare the level of CO2 emissions as part of this process. This inspection will confirm that your vehicle is as described in your V5C document.
7. Pay VRT on your UK car import
Since January 2021, a new method for calculating VRT based on CO2 emissions test for passenger cars has been introduced, replacing the old 11 band (A-G) table for VRT. The new table is essentially to bring the current NEDC (New Europe Driving Cycle) (CO2) rating of imported used cars in line with the WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure) regime.
The new 20 band table (see below) will range from 7% to 37% replacing the former 11 band table which ranged from 14% to 36%.
This is based on the OMSP – the Open Market Selling Price which is what Revenue deems to be the Irish market value of your car to be (not the price you paid).
Please consult the Budget 2021 Tax Policy changes (page 20) to see how CO2 emissions are now calculated to arrive at the new VRT charges. The CO2 calculation is also based on whether the car is a petrol or diesel vehicle.
VRT rates are calculated as follows:
|VRT Band||CO2 Emissions (g/km)||VRT Rate (% of OMSP)|
|1||0 – 50||7|
|2||51 – 80||9|
|3||81 – 85||9.75|
|4||86 – 90||10.50|
|5||91 – 95||11.25|
|6||96 – 100||12|
|7||101 – 105||12.75|
|8||106 – 110||13.5|
|9||111 – 115||14.25|
|10||116 – 120||15|
|11||121 – 125||15.75|
|12||126 – 130||16.5|
|13||131 – 135||17.25|
|14||136 – 140||18|
|15||141 – 145||19.5|
|16||146 – 150||21|
|17||151 – 155||23.5|
|18||156 – 170||26|
|19||171 – 190||31|
Tax on NOx emissions
The Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) surcharge bands introduced in Budget 2020 will also be adjusted so that higher NOx emitting vehicles are subject to higher rates of VRT:
|NOx emissions (NOx mg/km or mg/kWh)||Amount payable per mg/km or mg/kWh|
|The first 0-40mg/km or mg/kWh, as the case may be||€5|
|The next 40 mg/km or mg/kWh or part thereof, as the case may be, up to 80 mg/km or mg/kWh, as the case may be||€15|
|The remainder above 80 mg/km or mg/kWh, as the case may be||€25|
We advise you to please consult Revenue’s comprehensive guide to VRT changes and calculations, as well as NOx charges.
8. Getting your plates
Once all documentation has been provided and all necessary payments made, you will be issued an Irish registration number. This must be displayed within 3 days so please get and attach the plates within this time. Failure to display your new registration plates can incur a fine from An Garda Siochána.
Plates can be acquired at most motor factors nationwide.
You will then be posted an Irish registration certificate.
9. Pay your motor tax and insurance
When you receive your VRT receipt and your registration number assigned to the vehicle, the NCTS will also provide form RF100 which you will need to pay motor tax. Once this and your car insurance has been sorted you can begin life with your new imported vehicle.
Ready to start saving on your new car?
When you’re ready to pay for your car, make sure to get a competitive GBP/EUR quote that will save you money. Alternatively, call the payments desk at Fexco on 1800 246800 for more information on our service, including same day transfers.