Importing a used car from the UK

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Importing Used Vehicles 2021


Since Brexit on January 1st, the UK is considered to be a ‘third country’ by the EU. It is imperative, therefore, to understand the new tax, tariff and the vehicle registration implications of importing a vehicle into the State.

From the beginning of this year we have seen changes to vehicle importation that has resulted in some changes. For example, any vehicle imported from the UK into the Republic is required to complete a customs declaration and also increased vehicle costs in the following areas:

  • Customs Declaration - complete prior to registration

  • Customs Duty - 10% tariff if applicable 

    • 0% if the vehicle originated in the UK

    • 10% if the vehicle originated outside the UK

  • Value Added Tax  - VAT of 23% (new cars)

  • Vehicle Registration Tax - register before 30-day deadline

Since January 1, all vehicles imported from Great Britain are being treated as a Non-European Union or third country.

Before reaching the VRT office you must first have completed a customs declaration, paid any tariffs owing and pay VAT, if applicable, on the full Open Market selling Price of the vehicle. For immediate information on these procedures, you can go to eCustoms Notification 33/2020 and AIS trader guides

Before the vehicle can go through the registration process at the VRT office (located at the NCTS centres). The VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) of the vehicle must already have been submitted to Customs and also displayed on the customs declaration form. 

This VIN number is then cross checked by VRT with Revenue to determine that customs has been paid or was exempt. For further information on submitting this declaration, you can contact  the Customs Technical Helpdesk at

It is very important that you complete the customs declaration and also register your vehicle on time as you run the risk of it being seized if

  • the declaration is not completed

  • the vehicle is not registered within 30 days of its arrival in the State.

Motor dealers

You can find detailed information about the registration of used vehicles in Vehicle Registration Tax.

New vehicles

In addition to making a Customs declaration, if you are importing a new vehicle into the State it must always be accompanied by the following:

The United Kingdom has its own vehicle certification type process which is overseen by the UK Vehicle Certification Agency. To help dealers understand the in’s and outs of this, the NSAI and Road Safety Authority have released guidance documents covering the importation of new vehicles into Ireland. If you are a car trader and you are importing new cars, you may want to consider these prior to purchasing in the UK.

Vehicles imported from Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Vehicles which were imported before 1 January 2021 can be registered as normal, provided you have documentation (sales invoice, ferry ticket etc.) and can prove that the vehicle was imported into the country before January 1, 2021.

All UK origin vehicles, including Northern Ireland will have zero tariffs. All zero tariff and zero quota provisions will only apply to vehicles that comply with the appropriate rules of origin under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement. 

The following vehicles imported from Great Britain will be subject to tariffs as they are not classed as UK origin under the rules of origin:

  • Vehicles of EU origin used in the UK (example, Germany, France etc.)

  • Vehicles of another third country which are used in the UK, even if there is a Free Trade Agreement between that country and the EU such as Japan

Origin of Vehicle

Customs Duty Payable

VAT Payable




Third country such as USA or Japan



EU such as Germany or France



You must present the following documents at the vehicle registration office at the NCTS Centre. 

  • the foreign registration document (the V5C from the UK)

  • a copy of the customs declaration or the reference number of the customs declaration (the MRN).

  • any other supporting documentation (invoices, ferry tickets etc.)

Vehicles registered in Northern Ireland before 1 January 2021

If a vehicle has been registered in Northern Ireland or registered to a person before 1 January 2021 you will not have any customs implications. 

If the vehicle was registered in Northern Ireland after 1 January 2021, it will not have any customs check but it will require proof of first registration. If it is a new NI vehicle, it will be subject to VAT

Proof that vehicles were properly imported into Northern Ireland from Great Britain is required. These vehicles must be:

  • registered to a private individual or a business in Northern Ireland

  • or

  • sold by a motor dealer with an address in Northern Ireland.

Proof will be in the form of:

  • a copy of the customs declaration showing the importation of the vehicle into Northern Ireland

  • or

  • a T2L document issued by HMRC.

If you do not have any of the above documents, you should not purchase a vehicle in Northern Ireland if it has a GB registration or which was previously registered in Great Britain. It is important to know that if you cannot prove to the VRT office that the vehicle is a Northern Ireland registered vehicle they will seek a customs declaration and proof that applicable customs duty has been paid. You will also, where applicable, pay VAT based on the import value of the vehicle.

Here are some resources from Revenue with regard to registration of imported used vehicles to Ireland from 1 January 2021

  1. Overview
  2. Implications of importing cars from Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  3. Motor dealers and new vehicles


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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