Importation Quick Guide

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For a newcomer in the field of car importation, the process involved when importing a car for the first time may seem complex. However, with the right tools and knowledge at your disposal, you can navigate the importation process smoothly. In this quick-start guide, you will find some essential advice to ensure a successful importation of any used car to Ireland.



Step 1: Carry Out Thorough Research and Careful Preparation

In-depth research is essential before embarking on the process of importing a used car. Familiarise yourself with the regulations, legal requirements, and costs associated with importing a car. Gain a solid understanding of the Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) system, Value Added Tax (VAT), NCT test requirements, and any other applicable charges associated with importing a used car. Equipped with the right information, you will be able to plan and budget effectively.


Step 2: Choose a Reliable Source or Specialist Importer

Buying from a trustworthy private seller or used car dealer is of utmost importance when importing a car. When it comes to importing used cars, it is always advisable to buy from a reputable dealership or professional. Verify the vehicle's history using a Car History Check, and inspect its condition and documentation to avoid any expensive complications in the future.


Step 3: Fully Understand the Customs Procedures

Make sure to take adequate time to familiarise yourself with the customs procedures, and the necessary paperwork required for importing a car. Ensure that you have all the required documentation, including the vehicle's registration documents, proof of ownership, purchase invoice, and any applicable certificates such as the European Certificate of Conformity (CoC). Compliance with customs regulations is vital to avoid any unnecessary delays or financial penalties on your arrival home.


Step 4: Accurately Calculate and Budget for Import Charges

Accurately calculating the various charges involved in the importation process is essential. This includes VRT, VAT (if applicable), NCT testing fees, and transportation costs. Take advantage of an online VRT calculator and seek further professional advice if necessary, to estimate these charges accurately. Establish a realistic budget that covers all of these expenses and allow a reasonable margin of error in your calculations. 


Step 5: Fully Consider the Transportation and Fuel Costs

Consider your options for getting the car home once you’ve made your purchase. You may choose to drive the car yourself or opt for a delivery service through a specialist importer. If you decide to drive, ensure that you have valid insurance cover when driving in the country of purchase and plan your journey accordingly. On the other hand, if you choose a delivery service, identify a reliable delivery company experienced in car imports. Get several quotes and choose a reputable provider that offers secure transportation and proper handling of your vehicle. Ensure also, that you have adequate insurance in place to cover loss or damage of the vehicle during the delivery process. If you are driving the car home, calculate the total fuel cost, road tolls and personal expenses involved in your time spent on the road.


Step 6: Ensure Compliance with Irish Motoring Legislation & Testing Requirements

Compliance with regulations and local legislation is paramount when importing a used car. In most cases, when importing from the UK or Europe, you won’t have any issues. However, it’s worth checking that the vehicle meets all of the safety and emissions standards applicable back home. If modifications are necessary, seek advice from experts or an NCT Test Centre to ensure compliance with Irish legislation. 


Step 7: Get Professional Guidance if Necessary

Consider engaging the services of a professional who specialises in car importation. Customs brokers, import agents, or specialist importation services can provide invaluable guidance throughout the process. They have the expertise and experience to easily handle paperwork, navigate customs procedures, and ensure compliance with regulations. Although their services come at a cost, they can streamline the importation process, saving you a lot of time and potential headaches. If you choose not to hire a professional, consider making use of the many online tools and calculators such as a Customs Charges Calculator or VRT Calculator, and in all cases, make sure to conduct a comprehensive International Car History Check before committing to purchase.


Importing a car for the first time can be a rewarding and financially worthwhile exercise.  With the right information and by conducting thorough research, even an inexperienced buyer can make a worthwhile and solid long-term investment.


Justin Kavanagh
Justin Kavanagh is a recognised leader in automotive intelligence and vehicle data supply to the entire motor industry. He has almost 20 years experience in building systems from the ground up. As the Managing Director of Vehicle Management System, he understands the need and importance of trustworthy and reliable vehicle history and advice to both the trade and the public.
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