Understanding Motor Tax in Ireland

Published on 23 September 2020

If you’re thinking of buying a car in Ireland, it’s important to remember that there are a number of expenses that you will encounter on top of the cost of buying the car. One of the fixed costs involved in owning a car is motor tax, often referred to as Vehicle Registration Tax. This a fee that’s applied to vehicles for the use of public roads.

By law, you must display a current motor tax disc that confirms that you have paid the tax. You cannot drive on the roads and motorways without it. This tax is applied by the government and collected by the local authorities.

The motor tax disc may be valid for three, six or 12 months depending on the payment period you’ve chosen. If you drive your car without the disc, you’ll be committing a traffic violation that’s punishable by a fine of €60. If you lose the disc, you can request another by paying an additional €6.

How Much Motor Tax Should I Pay?

So, when did motor tax rates change in Ireland? 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. You can check using your car’s registration here.
  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 1st, 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 transport. 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 table of motor tax rates listed on the website of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sports. Or you can check your car’s motor tax using the car registration number.

What are the Exceptions to Motor Tax?

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 and 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's date of manufacture.

What about Rarely Used or Stolen Cars?

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 because it won’t be using public roads. You'll have to indicate that you won’t be using the car for a period of three to 12 months by filling in the RF150 form. Fill it in and send it to your local vehicle tax office (usually at the county council buildings). In this form, you'll 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 three months of motor tax, since it's actually a request for reimbursement.


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