A Comprehensive Guide to UK Car Imports
MotorCheck is in the unique position of operating vehicle history checking services in both the UK and Irish markets. We have a deep level of expertise in both markets and specifically regarding UK Car imports. When importing a used car from the UK there are a myriad of questions and concerns that a typical buyer will have. Many changes have also come into effect since 1st January 2021 due to Brexit specifically surrounding the different treatments when importing cars from Northern Ireland and Great Britain. It is important for any car buyer to be aware of the latest rules regarding customs declarations, VRT, NOx levies and VAT. This guide will help to simplify and explain the complexities of UK Car Imports and the steps involved.
Important Steps for UK Car Imports:
Finding a car
There are many online resources than can be used to shop for a suitable used car without leaving the comfort of your home, some of most popular sites for UK vehicles are autotrader.co.uk and motors.co.uk. If you are looking specifically for stock from Northern Ireland, check out usedcarsni.com.
Calculate the Costs
You will need to calculate the cost of purchasing the car. This will include converting the cost from GBP £ to EURO € depending on the current exchange rate. You should also factor in any foreign exchange fees that may apply. You will also be required to pay VRT, VAT and the NOx levy. You can get a VRT and NOx levy calculation using our Free VRT calculator. VAT should be calculated at 23% of the purchase price and will be payable dependant on the origin of the vehicle, see section 8 below. Customs duty may also be payable dependant on the origin of the vehicle, see section 8 below. If you’re planning on traveling to the UK to view the car, 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.
Do a Car History Check
Once you’ve narrowed down your choice of cars to a shortlist it is a good idea to perform a car history check. You can do this by entering the UK registration number on MotorCheck.ie and paying a small fee to retrieve a full report on the background history for the vehicle in the UK including:
- Write-Off check
- Condition Alert damage check
- Police Stolen check
- Outstanding Finance check
- Mileage check
- Ex-taxi / public service vehicle check
- Cherished plate transfer check
- Owner history check
- And much more
Perform a thorough physical inspection
A history check will verify the background data, however, you should also perform a thorough physical inspection of the vehicle before you finalise the purchase. This will require travel to Great Britain or Northern Ireland so most people will leave the final physical inspection until they have placed a deposit on the car to secure it and are ready to buy. Please be prepared to pull out of the sale if you don’t like what you see during the inspection. Any deposit will be legally refundable so whilst it may set you back in your search it is better than making a rash decision to finalise a purchase that may end up causing you problems in the future. If you don’t mind spending a little extra it may be well worthwhile getting an inspection carried out by a mechanic or automotive engineer in advance of visiting the vehicle yourself.
Get an insurance quotation
Make sure that your insurer is prepared to cover the vehicle you wish to purchase. Sometimes Irish insurers will have specific underwriting rules pertaining to UK imports so don’t assume anything and get a quote in advance.
Assuming you are happy to finalise the purchase of the vehicle after step 3 and 4, the next step is to make payment to the UK dealer. You will usually have already paid a deposit to secure the vehicle so you will now need to make a balancing payment. It is never a good idea to pay in cash, and due to anti-money laundering legislation dealers in the UK are not permitted to accept large cash payments in any case. Even if you are buying from a private seller do not transact in cash as this is not traceable and leaves you open to fraud. Different dealers will have different rules regarding what forms of payment are acceptable so talk to the dealer involved. However, the most sensible form is payment is simply a card transaction or online transfer. Please be aware that due to the nature of these transactions you may be required to make the payment to the dealers account in advance to ensure it has cleared before collection of the vehicle.
Organise collection or delivery of the vehicle
If you have travelled to the dealer to collect the car yourself you must ensure that you are insured to drive the car. You should phone ahead to your insurer and ask them to perform a “temporary substitution” from your existing car insurance to your new car. This will allow you drive the car home and allow you a specified period of cover to organise your new policy. Make sure you make detailed travel arrangements in advance of your trip, book any required flights, ferry crossings and overnight stays before you leave. It is also a good idea to familiarise yourself with the route so you do not get lost or miss any connections. Alternatively, many dealers will offer a delivery service and you may be able to get the car delivered straight to your door. If you are opting for a home delivery service, we would advise that either you or your representative has physically inspected the car prior to delivery.
Customs Duty and VAT
On January 1st 2021 the UK officially left the EU due to BREXIT. The process of importing goods from the UK to Ireland therefore changed on this date. Goods imported from the UK to Ireland now require a customs declaration. This also means that goods may be subject to customs duty and VAT. There are different rules for customs duty dependant on the origin of the vehicle. All vehicles imported from the Great Britain require a customs declaration, and customs duty and VAT must be paid. Not all vehicles imported from Northern Ireland require a customs declaration. Since vehicles can be moved freely within the UK (EG: between Great Britain and Northern Ireland) it depends on whether or not the vehicle was originally registered in Great Britain and when exactly the vehicle was registered in Northern Ireland if indeed it originated in Great Britain. MotorCheck works with a specialist partner who can provide a customs declaration service for you if required. If this is of interest, please contact our support team.
There are a few important rules to keep in mind:
- Whether or not customs duty is payable is determined based on the country of origin of the vehicle and the type of vehicle. Country of origin refers to where the vehicle was manufactured rather than where you are importing the vehicle from. UK manufactured cars imported from the UK are subject to 0% customs duty. EU manufactured cars imported from the UK are subject to 10% customs duty. Vehicles manufactured in a third country, such as the USA or Japan are subject to 10% customs duty.
- Used vehicles first registered in Great Britain and then imported to Northern Ireland before the BREXIT deadline (01/01/2021) do not require a customs declaration and are not subject to customs duty or VAT.
- Used vehicles first registered in Great Britain and then imported to Northern Ireland after the BREXIT deadline (01/01/2021) require a customs declaration and are generally subject to customs duty and VAT. Although it is rare, customs duty will be 0% if the vehicle was manufactured in the UK, see the initial point above.
- Used vehicles first registered in Northern Ireland, that were never previously registered in Great Britain are not subject to customs duty or VAT.
- New vehicles purchased in Northern Ireland are not subject to customs duty but are subject to VAT. A vehicle is considered new if it is less than 6 months old, or has travelled 6,000 kilometres or less.
If you import a vehicle from UK to the Republic Of Ireland you are required to pay VAT as part of the customs declaration process. If you are VAT registered you can choose to postpone VAT and include the VAT in your VAT return. Currently VAT is charged at 23%.
Vehicles first registered in Northern Ireland, that were never previously registered in the UK are not subject to customs duty or VAT. New vehicles* purchased in Northern Ireland are not subject to customs duty but are subject to VAT. *A vehicles is considered new if it is less than 6 months after entering into service, or has travelled 6,000 kilometres or less.
Register the vehicle
Once you have landed the car in Ireland you are required to make an appointment to have your vehicle inspected for VRT at an NCT centre. The appointment must be made within 7 days of the vehicle entering the State. VRT and other tax liabilities dues must be paid within 30 days of the vehicle entering the State.
Your vehicle must have an electronic Certificate of Conformity (e-CoC) before it is registered. If you only have a paper version of your e-CoC, you must manually input the details onto the Revenue system.
You must have a PPS number, proof of identity (EG: passport or driving licence) and other specified documents in order to register and pay the VRT. Revenue.ie provides a list of the documents required. You must also bring the relevant Foreign Registration Certificate with you. For UK vehicles this is called the V5 Certificate. If you do not have it, registration of the vehicle in Ireland will be refused.
You must also be able to locate the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) for the vehicle inspector when presenting the vehicle for inspection.
Purchase and display the Irish registration plates
Once you have registered the car and paid VRT you will be provided with a VRT receipt and RF100 form. You can now purchase your new Irish registration plates at most motor factors. Usually, they can assist you with fitting the new plates. Plates must be fitted within 3 days of registering the vehicle. All Irish registration plates must conform to a specific standard, see more details here.
Order a tax disc for the vehicle
You can pay for the motor tax at your local motor tax office or online at Motortax.ie. After you have paid VRT you will be provided with an RF100 form for use when you are applying for motor tax. To pay motor tax, you will need to insure the car and have your insurance details on hand. After you have paid the motor tax, the Vehicle Registration Certificate (EG: the ownership logbook) will be issued to you by the Department of Transport.