Importing a car: The 101 guide by MotorCheck

When importing a car to Ireland from the UK, you have a number of steps to consider and take. These steps include finding the car, considering the pros and cons, completing a UK car history check, informing the relevant authorities, registering your imported car,  paying the VRT, getting the number plates, and organising road tax including insurance.

In 2018 and 2019, used car imports from the UK to Ireland totalled 100,755 and 113,925 respectively. Used car imports to Ireland have increased dramatically in recent years due to the fluctuations in the British Pound against the Euro because of BREXIT, as well as the choice and availability of relatively cheap diesel cars in the UK due to Government moves to penalise diesel vehicles.

Find a used car to import from the UK

Among the most popular platforms to find a used car in the UK include websites such as Autotrader, British Car Auctions and Motors

If you would like to save money on flights or accommodation you could consider Northern Ireland by using Charles Hurst Group, DoneDeal or Used Cars NI.

What are the costs of importing a car?

Once you get over the temptation of picking up your dream car at a better price. We would highly recommend considering the additional costs. For example, if you are importing the car from the UK to Ireland you will need to add on a ticket for a flight, the boat home with the car, maybe a hotel and food for the weekend. If you would prefer using a lorry, then we would recommend budgeting about €500. 

The largest expense after the car will be VRT and you can use our calculator to find out what will be the total estimated fee. VAT is already included in the price of a used car, so unless the dealer in the UK is selling to a VAT registered business there is no VAT to pay in Ireland. If the vehicle was sold to a VAT registered business ex-VAT then the Irish VAT would also need to be paid on importation.

Cost of British Pounds

One area where you can save some money is on transferring your Euros to Sterling. We would recommend keeping track of the price for about two months before buying your car because a cent can make a massive difference. For example, on the 18/11/2020 €10,000 was worth £8,920.50 because the rate is €1 = £0.89205. Whereas on the 19/10/2020, €10,000 was worth £9,066.50 because €1 = £0.90665.

You can use services such as TransferWise to track the price of Sterling.

Complete a history check and car inspection

Considering you are living in Ireland, we would highly recommend organising a car inspection before importing a car from the UK. The car inspection will let you know about the condition and roadworthiness. Both the RAC and the AA offer car inspection services for around £100 which is complete within two working days.

Car history check

Naturally, at MotorCheck we are in the business of finding out important background information on the car, like if a car comes with outstanding finance, if it was stolen or if the car was clocked. We can tell you the full history of a car in the UK or Northern Ireland. We have found that 17% of cars are clocked and 18% have outstanding finance. Don’t take the chance and MotorCheck it.

Three steps to inform authorities you have imported a car from the UK

  1. Make sure to get a receipt with your purchase including the date and amount
  2. Get the logbook, also known as the V5C registration document, which will help you later to register the car in Ireland
  3. Fill out the ‘notification of permanent export’ in the logbook and notify the UK authorities of your intention to export the vehicle

Once you have imported your car from the UK, you have seven days to visit the National Car Testing Service for a VRT inspection. The check is used to verify that the details you outline in the ‘notification of permanent export’ are accurate.


Once the check by the National Car Testing Service is complete, you can pay the VRT on your imported car. You can use our VRT calculator to find out what you need to pay and add this to your budget beforehand in the second step above. 

From the 1st January 2020 there is additional NOx charge on the top of the VRT payable. The MotorCheck VRT Calculator will also provide a NOx levy estimate if available. You should also check for the NOx value in g/km printed on the V5C document and check this value against the estimate. If the values are different make sure to recalculate the NOx estimate based on what is printed on the V5C document. You can find more information on the NOx Levy on the Revenue Commissioners website.

Get your number plates

Once you have completed the National Car Test and paid the VRT. You will receive an Irish registration number. Once you receive the number, you have three days to go to a motor factor to get a number plate. Failure to do so could mean that you receive a fine from the Gardai. 

How to pay your motor tax

After completing the steps above, you will receive the RF100 form which will allow you to pay motor tax. The RF100 form is necessary to pay your motor tax. 

Once you have completed the steps above, we wish you the best of luck with your used car import.