Guide to getting an imported car

Published on 22 March 2018

Guide to importing a car in 2018

There has been a massive increase in the number of imported cars from the UK, due partly to the fall in Sterling because of Brexit, but also because of a fall in car sales across the Irish Sea. This fall in sales has meant that Irish car dealers have been able to buy cheap UK cars and sell them on the Irish market. Last year, those imports accounted for 93,454 of sales here. That figure is expected to increase in 2018.

While most imports are sold through Irish dealers, some cars, particularly if they’re somewhat niche or special models rarely found in Ireland, are sourced and bought by individual buyers. Here’s what you need to know when importing a car into the country.

Do your research
Buying a used car is a negotiation so having a solid knowledge of the value of the car is important, especially when dealing with people who buy and sell cars for a living.

But it’s not just about price. Has the car been in an accident? Has it been rebuilt? Or worse - has it been put together with two different vehicles? Having the knowhow to check for the tell-tale signs of any of the above is crucial when you consider that there is very little come back when you buy a car in another jurisdiction. There are several services that offer history checks of UK vehicles, although some of them come at a price.

The rules for taxing an imported car in Ireland seem counter intuitive considering that if a car has been bought in the UK, which is currently part of the EU, and tax will have already been paid there.

VAT will have to be paid on a car if it is considered new. This applies even if VAT has been paid in the host EU country. A car is considered new if it has been supplied six months or less after the date of its first entry into service or it has travelled 6,000 kilometres or less since it was first presented for registration in the host country.
It is more likely that any car you are importing won’t be considered new, but will still however, be subject to Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT), as are all imported cars both new and used.

To calculate the VRT due, Revenue determines the value of your car in what is known as the Open Market Selling Price (OMSP). The OMSP is the value of your car in Ireland, not in the country where you bought it. Revenue have an online VRT calculator where there are over 25,000 valuations.

If the OMSP of the vehicle is not on the VRT calculator, Revenue will then calculate the value based on other criteria such as UK and Irish trade magazines. They will not offer an estimate prior to purchase of a car.
If you want to import a car from outside the EU, such as an American classic, then you will also need to pay a customs duty.

Register your car
You will need to register your car at a NCTS centre and if the car is over four-years-old you will also need to get an NCTS Cert for it. Once a car is registered and all duties are paid, the vehicle will be assigned a registration number which can then be used to order the Irish registration plates, which must be displayed on the car within three days of their issue date.

And don't forget, with Liberty Insurance you can get a car insurance quote online in as little as two minutes. Terms and conditions apply.