How To Import a Used Car Into Ireland

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Importing A Used Car To Ireland

The economics of importing a car from Britain have changed since Brexit, but there may still be some savings

For a used car buyer, there are many benefits to Importing a car from abroad. Most used car imports come from the UK, which has traditionally been a cost-effective option, as they are generally priced lower than their counterparts in Ireland. Additionally, importing a car from another country can give buyers access to a wider range of models and specifications that may not be available in the Irish Market. Importing a car can be particularly advantageous to buyers looking for a specific model that may not be sold in Ireland or a model with unique features.

Since Brexit, importing a used car from the UK to Ireland has become more complex and expensive due to the additional customs and VAT rules arising from Britain’s departure from the EU. Buyers must now pay VAT on the value of the car as well as any Customs & Excise duties, which can significantly increase the overall cost of importing a car. These additional costs and complexities have made importing used cars from the UK less attractive for car buyers, and most are now relying on stock available in the Irish market. 

However, it may still make sense to import a car from the UK for a number of reasons, including those already mentioned.

The Basic Steps to Importing a Used Car

When a car has been sourced, the process of registration is relatively straightforward. Arrangements must be made to transport the car to Ireland, have it cleared through customs and undertake the registration process.

On arrival in Ireland, the buyer must register the car with the National Car Testing Service (NCTS) and pay the relevant importation fees such as Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT), VAT, and customs duty. The final amount of the fees payable is based on various factors such as CO2 emissions, the make and model, the engine size and any added options or extras. All of These factors are combined to calculate the Open Market Selling Price (OMSP) of the vehicle on which the fees are calculated.

To complete the process, the relevant documentation is submitted to the Vehicle Registration Unit of the Department of Transport, which issues a registration number and certificate for the car. 

What is Vehicle Registration Tax?

Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) is a tax charged on the registration of motor vehicles in Ireland, including used cars, which are imported. The amount of VRT charged on a car depends on several factors, including the age, its CO2 emissions, and its engine size.

The applicable rate of VRT charged on imported cars is calculated as a percentage of the Open Market Selling Price (OMSP) of the vehicle. The OMSP is the price that the car would sell for in the Irish market if it were being sold by a dealer or manufacturer. The rate of VRT also varies according to the vehicle classification. An estimate of the cost of VRT for any given vehicle can be more accurately established using an online VRT calculator such as the one found here.

What is NOx Tax and how is it applied?

In addition to VRT, NOx tax is now also applicable to most imported vehicles. The term "NOx tax" refers to a tax based on Nitrogen Oxide emissions. This tax, introduced on January 1st 2020, is a part of the VRT process and is applied to all vehicles being imported into the country. It was introduced as a disincentive to importing high emission vehicles, which may contribute to excessive air pollution.

The rate of the NOx tax is based on the level of Nitrogen Oxide emissions produced by the car. It is charged per milligram of emissions per kilometer (mg/km) and is based on the Euro Emissions Standard of the vehicle. The Euro Emissions Standard is a system used to measure the amount of pollution produced by a vehicle.

What Other Charges Apply to Importing a Car to Ireland?

In addition to VRT AND NOx tax, cars imported from outside the EU, e.g. The United Kingdom, are subject to VAT and Customs duties.

Customs duty is a tax that is charged on goods that are imported into the country, including cars. The amount of customs duty charged on an imported car depends on several factors, including the value of the car and where it was manufactured.

The applicable rate of Customs & Excise duty can vary depending on the specific type of car being imported, its age, and its origin.

VAT is also applied to cars imported from outside the EU. Again, VAT is calculated on the OMSP of the car in the Irish market and applied at the prevailing rate. It is important to make the distinction between imported cars first registered in mainland Britain as opposed to those first registered in Northern Ireland, as different VAT rules apply in each case.

The total amount of these charges can add up to a significant sum, so it's important to fully take them into account when considering the cost of importing a car.

Vat and customs charges can be more accurately assessed using an online Customs Duty & VAT Calculator such as the one available on

It's important to note that VRT is payable when the car is registered in Ireland, and the payment must be made before the car can be driven legally on Irish roads. 

All vehicles imported to Ireland must be registered within 30 days of their arrival in the country. Failure to pay the VRT can result in penalties and fines, and in some cases, the seizure of the vehicle. So it's important to ensure that the payment is made within the timeframe allowed.

Overall, while importing a used car from the UK may be less attractive than before, it may still make sense in some cases. Careful consideration of the total costs involved will allow a potential buyer to make an informed decision and potentially get a bargain.



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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