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Customs Clearance Procedure in Ireland

Customs Clearance Procedure in Ireland

What to Do once your imported vehicle is in Ireland

By Jack Kates

Importing vehicles into Ireland is a very simple process. Buying a car from Jim can be nearly as easy as buying a car from someone within Ireland. Knowing and doing what is required will save you time, money, and driving points. Ireland is one of world's most tax happy country in the world so be ready to pay through the nose at every step of the process.

Your Vehicle arrives at the port

Once car arrives at port, an "Arrival Notice" will notify you of its arrival. At the port, you must show your Bill of Lading, Invoice, and/or Deregistration Certificate to the shipper to confirm that you are the importer of  the vehicle. If necessary, you will need to pay any outstanding bills related to shipment at this time.

Next is getting it out of the port which requires you going through Customs (called the Revenue Commissioners). Getting your vehicle out of Customs is very easy and involves simply filling out a S.A.D. Declaration Form (which is used to prove Ownership and Car's Value) and then paying Customs Duty and VAT.

Prove Ownership of car to Customs

To obtain possession of the vehicle you must prove ownership of that vehicle. For Customs this means showing:

  • Commercial Invoice we sent you to prove you paid for it.
  • Deregistration Certificate to prove you are its owner and it was allowed to be exported.
  • Picture ID to prove who you are.

In most cases, this should be enough for proof of ownership. Contact Revenues (Agency for Taxes and Customs) before shipment for the latest updates.

Pay Import Duty and VAT To Revenue Commissioners

The second half the Irish Revenue Commissioners require is the payment of Duty fees and VAT charges. Above in the "How Much It Will Cost" section is the rates involved.

Both Duty and VAT are calculated based on the total vehicle costs and it's importation. That translates out to the CIF (Cost-Insurance-Freight) amount in shipping terms. If all these costs are listed on one Invoice, make sure they are listed as separate items. If they are on multiple Invoices, bring all relevant Invoices.

After completing everything required in the submission of the SAD Form, you should be given clearance. You are then free to transport your vehicle out the port's premises.

Registration & Licensing

Get your vehicle Registered at VRO and Pay VRT

According to Irish law, any vehicle that is not temporarily in Ireland (i.e. belonging to visitors) must be registered at the Vehicle Registration Office (VRO) on the next working day following its arrival. For registration, there is a tax called VRT (Vehicle Registration Tax) that must be paid in order to be on the Registrar and receive vehicle registration plates.

All new or imported cars must be registered and have VRT paid to be owned legally. You may want to visit the VRT Calculator (external link) to get estimates on how much your car would be taxed for. Here are the step involved in registration:

  1. Go to your local VRO the next day after importing to pay the vehicle registration tax.
    1. Bring necessary documents as listed above in "Required Documents".
    2. Fill in a VRT4 Form (external link - PDF), submit, and pay tax. VRO will perform a basic vehicle inspection.
    3. Receive receipt with a Irish registration number.
  2. Within 3 days, go to any dealership and buy registration plates with your Irish registration number.
  3. Additionally, you will receive a RF-100 Form for licensing.

Licensing (Pay Motor Tax)

Licensing, also called motor tax or road tax, is for road maintenance paid at your Local Authority motor tax office. Through this office you apply for a road tax license which is necessary to get your "Vehicle Registration Certificate" from DEHLG (Department of Environment, Heritage, and Local Government).

Simply bring your documents and your payment card to pay the appropriate fee (both listed in above sections) to a motor tax office of the Local Authority. In return, your vehicle will be legal to drive within Ireland and you'll receive:

  • Tax Disc for placement on vehicle.
  • Vehicle Registration Certificate (by post)

If done online at Motor Tax Online (external link), the Tax Disc and Vehicle Registration Certificate will be issued by post separately within 4 days. Upon receiving the Tax Disc, immediately place on it's appropriate location.

Note: Tax Discs are issued in segments measured with whole months not days, so it is better to align your car registration early in the month.

Looking Ahead: NCTS Test for vehicles older than 4 years

For cars less than four years of age, you are finished and ready to drive for now. If the car is four years or older, you must prepare for a test conducted by NCTS (National Car Testing Service).

The NCTS Test is a biennial (every two years) safety and emission test for cars older than four years. The test is required on the first anniversary of the vehicle's first registration in its country of origin. This means if the car was (for the first time ever) registered in Japan in June, your next NCTS Test must be completed by the end of June. This test schedule has no relationship to motor tax or insurance expiry dates.

For the first time of testing, you may have the vehicle tested six months early and still keep the renewal date based on the anniversary date. Subsequent testing can be done three months in advance. If you do your test earlier you can be more prepared and avoid late fines.

To apply for test, take your Vehicle Registration Certificate and have the vehicle placed on the NCTS database. The next day, book a test for the vehicle by phoning the call centre at 1890 412 413. You vehicle can be inspected at whichever of the 43 NCT Centres throughout Ireland you choose.

The test is based on the EU Directive for safety and emissions standards for vehicles. Emission standards are based on the vehicle's year of [first] registration and older cars won't be tested at same level of modern cars.

Note: Special attention should be made to headlight alignment, exhaust emissions, and brakes performance.