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Understanding Motor Tax in Ireland
Understanding Motor Tax in Ireland | Liberty Insurance Ireland

If you’re thinking of buying a car, it’s important to take into account a series of added expenses beyond its purchase price. One of the fixed costs involved in owning a car is the motor tax, a fee that’s applied to vehicles in most countries for the use of public roads.

Displaying your motor tax disc confirms that you have paid the fee

In Ireland, paying the motor tax is mandatory in order to be able to drive your car on the roads and motorways. This fee is applied by the government and collected by the local authorities. When you pay this tax, you will receive a motor tax disc that is placed on the windshield of the car.

The motor tax disc may be valid for 3, 6 or 12 months, depending on the payment period you’ve chosen. Remember that if you drive your car without the disc, you’ll be committing a traffic violation that’s punishable by a fine of 60€, although no points are removed from your driving record. If you lose the disc, you can request another by paying an additional €6.

How is the motor tax calculated?

Since July 2008, there have been two separate tax systems for vehicles in Ireland. The motor tax for private cars is calculated by taking into account one of the following factors, depending on the car’s year of registration:

1. Owners of private vehicles registered before July 2008 and private vehicles for the transport of goods, such as vans, are required to pay the road tax according to the engine capacity. For example, the owner of a vehicle registered before June 30, 2008 that doesn’t exceed 1,000 cc will be required to pay €199, but if it has an engine that exceeds 3,001 cc, then the owner will need to pay €1,809.

2. Owners of passenger cars registered after July 2008, and those registered between January and June of 2008 that opted for this type of evaluation, will be required to pay the road tax according to their level of CO2 emissions. For example, the owner of a private car registered after July 1, 2008 that has zero emissions will be required to pay €120 per year in road tax, while the owner of a car that emits between 171 and 190 g/km of CO2 will have to pay €750. It’s worth clarifying that this calculation system doesn’t include imported second-hand cars that have been registered abroad before 2008.

This change in the way of calculating the motor tax is part of a long-term government project to move towards more sustainable mobility. By incentivising low-polluting cars by lowering the fees car owners are required to pay, consumers are encouraged to opt for more environmentally friendly vehicles.

In the case of commercial vehicles, the registration tax is calculated by taking into account their unladen weight. When the gross weight of the vehicle doesn’t exceed 3,000 kg, a category that many vans and small trucks fall into, the registration tax is 333€ per year. In the case of heavy vehicles over 12,001 kg, the fee is 900€.

To find out your car’s motor tax, you can consult the detailed table of motor tax rates listed on the website of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sports.

What exceptions apply?

Some cars are exempt from motor tax or are subject to a special assessment. This is the case of vehicles that have been specially manufactured or adapted for people with disabilities, provided that they own the vehicle and its engine capacity doesn’t exceed 2,000 cc.

In addition, if you have your car on an offshore island or you only use it in that space, a reduced rate will apply. For more details, you can contact your local department of motor vehicles.

In the case of vintage vehicles, a category that includes cars over 30 years old, the motor tax amounts to 56€ per year for cars and 26€ for motorcycles, and you will need to present the registration documents that show the vehicle' date of manufacture.

What to do if you’re not going to use your car or it has been stolen

If you’re going to leave your car parked and unused for a while, you don’t need to pay motor tax during that period. You will have to indicate that you won’t be using the car for a period of 3 to 12 months by filling in the RF150 form, which you will have to turn in at the corresponding vehicle tax office. In this form, you will need to indicate the reasons why you won’t be using the vehicle, either because you’ll be out of the country, it’s been stolen or if you have scrapped it.

The best thing to do is to file the declaration of non-use in the same month that your current motor tax expires. In fact, in order to submit it, you must have paid a minimum of 3 months of motor tax, since it is actually a request for reimbursement. 

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