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Your essential guide to importing a car from the UK

30 October 2019

In the market for a new car and intrigued by the potential savings that lie beyond a trip to your local dealership? You’re not alone.

According to the Consumer Market Monitor, used imports are set to climb to 105,000 this year. In the process, our purchase of UK cars will overtake the number of new cars sold in Ireland for the first time ever.

So, what’s behind the growing trend of Irish drivers looking abroad for value? The uncertainty of Brexit has one positive: a weaker pound means more sterling for your Euro. The larger British market also supports a wider variety of deals.

7 steps on importing your car

The only thing stopping you is knowing where to start. Whether you’re confused about transport or paperwork, we’ve 7 steps to help make your import easier. It’s an involved process but one that could save you thousands.

Step 1: Decide your preferred route

Heading to Northern Ireland may be the most straightforward option if you’re on the hunt for a more affordable car. It’s an accessible day trip, saving time and expense, whereas travelling across the Irish Sea means having to factor in flights, accommodation and other costs. This could set you back around €5002.

However, the prices you’ll find in Great Britain are generally more competitive than in Northern Ireland. You’ll encounter a greater range of specs, so any extra features shouldn’t heavily impact the price. To be on the safe side, stick to main dealers.

Step 2: Secure your finance

Before diving into any deal, arrange your car finance. Assess how much you can spend – permanent tsb can cover the cost of the car as well as vehicle registration tax (VRT).   

Step 3: Don’t forget VRT!

This payment will rear its head once you try to register your car in Ireland. The amount is a percentage of the car’s Open Market Selling Price (OMPS), which is what Revenue believes it would cost if sold in Ireland3.

This percentage varies, taking into account everything from the vehicle’s age to its CO2 emissions4. Calculate a rough estimate here.

Step 4: Inform the UK authorities

You’ll receive a full vehicle log book (VC5) with the car. Complete the ‘Permanent Export’ section and send it to:

UK’s Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), Swansea, SA99 1BD

Step 5: Get your new car home

If you’re bound for Britain, flying over and then returning by ferry should be the most cost-effective method. To save you that hassle, there are companies that specialise in importing cars. Typically, this will cost you between €400-€600.

Step 6: Arrange an NCTS visit

You have 7 days once you hit Irish soil to book an NCTS appointment so you can register the car and pay VRT. Registration must be fully completed within 30 days to avoid additional charges.

Here’s what you’ll need to bring to the NCTS centre5:

  • Evidence of previous registration (e.g. foreign certificate of registration or certificate of permanent exportation). If not included, you’ll need confirmation of the car’s CO2 emission levels.
  • Proof of identity (e.g. passport or driver’s licence).
  • Proof of name and address (e.g. utility bill or bank statement).
  • The appropriate Vehicle Purchase Details form.
  • An invoice clearly showing the date you purchased the car.
  • Proof of your PPSN (e.g. payslip or P60).
  • Evidence of the date your vehicle entered Ireland. This can include shipping details or travel documents.
  • If a VRT exemption is being claimed, the notification issued by Revenue.

You will then receive a RF100 form (for your motor tax) and your vehicle will be assigned a registration number, which must be displayed within 3 days. You can buy registration plates at most NCTS centres.

Step 7: Getting insured and taxed

When insuring your car, it is important to notify your insurer that it is a foreign import. Otherwise, it can invalidate your cover. You will need your insurance details to hand when paying your car tax (online at

Once this is paid, your Vehicle Registration Certificate will be issued to you.

Happy motoring!

Lending criteria, terms and conditions apply. permanent tsb p.l.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

The content of this blog does not constitute advice and is for general information purposes only. Readers should always seek professional advice before relying on anything stated in the blog. Some of the links above bring you to external websites. Your use of an external website is subject to the terms of that site.


  1. Fexco
  2. Citizens Information
  3. Revenue
  4. National Car Testing Service (NCTS)

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