Importing A Car Into Ireland, Everything You Need To Know

All The Information You Need


Have you recently imported a car into the country or are you thinking of doing so in the future? If this is the case then you should be aware of the small bit of additional work that you should do when it comes to researching the vehicle.

Although there can be potential savings made due to the perceived lower cost of the vehicle compared to what you are seeing in Ireland this might not always be the case. There are a number of pitfalls that you might encounter during the process that you might not be aware off when starting off.

Here’s a quick guide to how to import a car, what you need to know about the car, and how to arrange car insurance quotes.

Shopping For A Car

Thanks to modern technology, you don’t have to visit a garage forecourt to know whether or not they may have the kind of cars you’re interested in. Without leaving your home, you can find makes and models you’re looking for, read car specifications, view photos and compare savings across different parts of the country or from one country to another.

Popular used car websites in the UK include, and you can find deals in Northern Ireland by using If you’re looking for a car from mainland Europe, you might want to check out and

Does It Add Up To Go Abroad?

Before you snap up what looks like a bargain, make sure you’re factoring in all the expenses involved in buying a car in Europe or importing a car from the UK to Ireland.

If you plan to pick up the car yourself, have you considered the cost of travel and accommodation if required? Of course, it’s also possible to have your car shipped to you. If you’re thinking of doing this, have you looked into the transportation costs?

You should calculate all the expenses involved with buying an imported car versus purchasing a car in Ireland before you make your decision.

Changes Due To Brexit

Because of the extra costs now involved with importing goods into Ireland from the UK, it can be a more expensive and difficult option to import a car from the UK than it was before Brexit took place. Importing from the EU may not infer the extra costs, but it can be more difficult to get the car to you, purely due to distance. This is the same with importing a car from outside of the EU, too. To clarify all the costs involved, we have compiled a list of everything you’ll need to do when importing your car, depending on where it’s coming from.

Importing A Car From The UK After Brexit

As listed by Citizens Information, you’ll have to pay the following charges if you want to import a car from the UK:

  • A customs duty if the vehicle is arriving from Great Britain
  • 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)

You must always fill out a customs declaration when importing a car. Customs charges vary, but most of the time, you’ll only have to pay them in the following scenarios:

  • 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

Importing A Car From The EU

If you’re importing a car from the EU, you’ll have to do the following:

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

The amount you have to pay for VAT will differ depending on the vehicle, and if it’s considered a ‘new vehicle’ or not.

Importing A Car From Outside The EU

The only difference between what you must do when importing a car from the EU and from outside the EU is to also pay a customs duty. VAT is also paid at a set rate of 23%.

What You Need To Know About The Car

People are attracted to the savings associated with buying a car and importing it. However, they can sometimes forget to check with the importer about other important issues which they would otherwise ask a dealer about.

If you’ve decided to go ahead with purchasing a second-hand car from the UK or Europe, it’s a good idea to get the vehicle inspected and get a full vehicle history. If you cut corners and buy a car without taking these measures, you may end up with a car that costs you more than it’s worth.

In the UK, reputable automotive services companies such as the RAC offer pre-purchase inspections. Their qualified and approved engineers will examine the vehicle in question. Such companies usually offer a range of packages so you can choose between basic checks and more comprehensive options. In Germany, you can get inspections from

If you’re buying a car from England, Scotland or Wales, you can get an MOT (equivalent to NCT) history by entering the registration number into the UK government's MOT history checking service. There are also online tools to check out a car’s full history check, which should tell you information such as if the car is recorded as stolen, any outstanding finance on the vehicle and if the car has changed plates or colour.

Inform authorities in the country of purchase When you’re purchasing a car abroad, you must make sure that you follow the protocol for informing the authorities that a car is being permanently exported.

In the UK, this would mean getting the V5C vehicle registration certificate or logbook from whoever you bought the vehicle from. You will need to fill in the ‘permanent export’ (V5C/4) section of this logbook and send it to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), Swansea, SA99 1BD. If you are entitled to a vehicle tax refund, include a letter saying that you want your refund sent to your new address. You will need to keep the rest of your logbook and register it when you return to Ireland.

You must also fill out a VAT411 form. This form is used to report the removal of a new vehicle within two months of being sold and let the UK authorities know that you are not liable for VAT in the UK but will pay it in Ireland.

The History Of The Car

It’s important to know about the history or the car you’re buying, to make sure you don’t take on any unnecessary trouble by buying the car. These include:

  • Is there finance outstanding on the car? If you buy the car and there is finance outstanding, then the debt becomes your debt!
  • Was the car ever in an accident? There are numerous instances of where vehicles have been rebuilt (badly) and/or cut and shunt – this is where literally one half of the car is from a different vehicle and it’s been welded on and re-sprayed. Beauty is sometimes – literally - skin deep. Check with reputable vehicle checking services.
  • Has the car been clocked? This is where the mileage has been deliberately tampered with to give a better reading. This is something you need to check before you buy, but if you are importing from another country, this might not be possible until the vehicle arrives.

Understand The Vehicle Registration Tax

Once you import a car into Ireland, you will have to book it in for an inspection at an NCT centre within seven days of arrival. You will also need to register and pay Vehicle Registration Tax. Until you do this, you will not be allowed to drive the vehicle in Ireland.

Vehicle registration tax (VRT) is the tax that you pay when a vehicle is imported into the country. This is usually covered by the car dealer as part of the Irish vehicle registration process, but if you are importing the vehicle yourself, then it’s important that you arrange for this to be paid. Don’t assume that the dealer you are working with has included this as part of their service. The tax can be calculated in 3 different ways with the most commonly used method based on the sale price locally (not where the vehicle originated from).

Get a better understanding of what the VRT will be by going to to find out how much you will be expected to pay for the vehicle. It is important to do the VRT check before committing to any sale, as it might make you change your mind about importing if any perceived purchase price savings could be negated by the additional tax you have to pay.

Get New Vehicle Registration Plates

If you have purchased, or plan to purchase, a foreign registered car you should be aware that legally you have 30 days to re-register the car in Ireland. This is also important from an insurance perspective, as many insurers require that re-registration is completed within 30 days of the vehicle importation or they will not continue the cover on the vehicle.

Before you are permitted to drive European or UK car imports in Ireland, you need to get Irish registration plates. You will get a registration number when you register and pay your VRT. This number must be displayed within three days of receiving it. If you don’t, you could face a fine. You can get a new registration plate from the NCTS (National Car Testing Service). Remember: it’s an offence not to display the correct vehicle registration in the correct format.

Pay Motor Tax

You cannot legally drive on Irish roads without motor tax. Motor tax is a charge imposed on most vehicles by the government. The levy is collected by the local authorities. Cars are assessed based on a number of factors, including CO2 emission bands, engine capacity and unladen weight for commercial vehicles. It’s important to find out more about the rules around motor tax, the rates and how to apply.

Insurance for Imported Cars

Most importantly, and this may sound silly to have to say, but you need to tell your insurer if the car is imported. Some imported cars like Japanese imports usually require specific parts when being repaired following an accident. Many of these may not be standard production line parts or may have only been mass produced/distributed in certain parts of the world so insurers rate these vehicles differently or may prefer not to insure them to begin with.

If you know of something which you believe may impact the insurer’s decision to provide a policy to you then you need to advise them at time of purchase. Failure to inform your insurer that your vehicle is imported could negate your cover. If you are in any doubt, or think there is something that may impact a current/new policy, then talk to your broker/insurer when getting your quote. Falling back on "you weren't sure so didn't say" won’t prevent an insurer from not paying out on a claim due to non disclosure.

Because Chill deal with a number of different insurers we know what insurers require from you when you are looking for cover for your imported car. To help you get your cover in place, with the minimal amount of fuss, why not call us on 01 4003400 to speak to one of our helpful team