Robertr Registered User

For those looking to save a few quid here is my difinitive guide to importing cars from the UK based on my own experiences.

Firstly here is the best information you can get: - VRT

When you want to get a car from the UK there are a few rules to follow:

(1) You will have to pay VRT on any car coming into Ireland from any country unless over 30 years old.
(2) You will have to pay VAT on all cars coming from outside the EU, so always buy in the EU as an additional 21% will never bring it under the Irish price.
(3) You will have to pay VAT on all cars under 6 mths old or less than 6,000kms even if they are from within the EU.


When you are looking at the price of different cars in the UK ( is the best site) it might seem like the prices are great. This can be true for some cars but others this is not the case.

Obviously, you will firstly have to convert the price into EURO using the most up to date rate that your bank will Sell GBP (This can be quite different from the daily exchange rates that you might see in the papers).

Then you will have to calculate the VRT. This can vary in a number of ways:
(1) The % of VRT is based on the engine size of the car. You can see the table using the above link.
(2) It is not based on the price you bought the car for but the Open Market Selling Price or OMSP. This is a value decided by the Revenue. In my experience these can be way off. Sometimes they are way above the retail value and sometimes they are less than the Trade value. Depends on the car. I've noticed that they will value an Audi at about trade or less but BMW's are above what you would expect to pay on a forecourt.

Procedure for Buying:

(1) Get a shortlist of cars that you are interested in knock off about 5% of the listed price for a cash discount. Should get more off but leave that as a nice surprise.

(2) Call your local VRO office (listed in the contact page on and ask for a VRT quote. They should be able to give you the amount straight away unless it is a high-end luxury car (over say €60,000). They will then need the chassis number and they will get their VRO Department in Rosslare to do up a valuation - usually 1 day.

(3) You will now have the cost of the car.

(4) Factor in expenses, usually about €1,000.
- Flights
- Ferry
- RAC/AA inspection (has to be done!!!)
- HPI Check

(5) Contact the Dealer (never buy privately) you want to buy from and give them as many questions as you can think of. Tell them that you will be getting an inspection done so they may as well tell you everything now. If you are not 100% happy with all answers, walk away!!!!! Every Tom, Dick and Harry has a 'car dealership' in the UK, loads of guys operating out of their back gardens, so be wary. Don't bother getting a warranty from the dealer if the car is still covered by the manufacturer's warranty, in fact you should be able to get money off if you tell them you don't want it.
**EU law states that a manufacturer must stand over their warranty in every EU country regardless of which country the car was originally purchased so if something goes wrong you can go to your local dealership and you will be covered by the warranty. This does not cover Dealership warranties, only Manufacturer!!

(6) Once happy, you will have to pay a deposit, (by Credit Card) don't worry, once it’s by credit card you are covered from fraud. Make sure it is subject to the inspection not showing up anything that will change the overall value of the car from his decryption.

(7) Get inspection done. Make sure you get the expensive one. An engineer will call you to discuss the car and these guys do a great job. One time he even told me that there was a tiny dent the size of a 10P coin in one of the speakers in the back door. When I got the car it took me ages to find it. They do a really good job.

(8) Agree a date to travel over and get the Dealer to collect you from the closest Airport.

(9) Get a bank draft for the remaining GBP balance to pay the dealer.

(10) Call you insurance company and ask them to transfer your policy to the new car. They will only issue a temporary cover for a non-Irish reg that lasts for 1 month.

(11) You should have no trouble of making the journey in one day if you leave early in the morning you will be back in Dublin that night.

(12) Get a bank draft for the amount you were quoted when you got the VRT quote. Knock off about 10% from the draft and bring cash as some time will have passed and the amount they want will have gone down.

(13)With in 24hrs of arriving in Ireland you are required to present the car at the VRO. You will have to fill out a few forms and then they will have a look to see if you have honestly described the car. Don't worry about telling them about every extra, they don't seem to care as long as the Make, Model and Year as are you said. (So make sure that it’s fully loaded).

(14) They will then give you a document that will have your new Irish Reg on it. Go and get some plates done up and put them on the car.

(15) Get your insurance changed to the new reg.

(16) A few days later you will receive the Vehicle Registration Cert. This is not the same as the one that you usually have as it in only the initial cert. and is used to Tax a car for the first time only.

(17) Go to the Tax office and tax that puppy!

(18) In a few days you will have you proper Vehicle Registration Document.

In general, even with VRT, most cars are cheaper from the UK. Obviously, there more expensive the car the more you will save. Anything under €15,000 - €20,000 may not be worth your while but there are some exceptions out there!!

Anyways, hope this helps everyone. I've been doing it for a while and its had its ups and downs, so always use your commen sense and don't let the really cheap ones get the better of you.

Any questions, let me know

Good Luck!!!

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Tommy Vercetti Registered User

Excellent thread, thanks for that info - I'm going to look into importing in the next 12 months hopefully. The standard spec on UK cars is usually way higher than what we get too.

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unkel Category Moderator

Thanks a lot for that constructive thread, Robertr

The one thing that's put me off is the dodgy VRT calculation

My current car started it's life in the UK and the dude importing it only paid about half of the VRT that he reckoned was due. The inspector that was called out and looked at the vehicle in person, failed to see it was the executive spec

Can they not get some more direct guidelines and a web based calculator rather than this personal inspection, could go up or down, brown envelope (very Irish) kind of approach?

Borzoi Registered User

Wow - good guide. I presume the voice of ecperience there robert?

Stickied as requested. Perhaps it might go in to mike65's general help guide later.

Robertr Registered User

Originally posted by Tommy Vercetti
Excellent thread, thanks for that info - I'm going to look into importing in the next 12 months hopefully. The standard spec on UK cars is usually way higher than what we get too.

Yeah, because of VRT car manufacturers try to land the cars in Ireland for as cheap as possible. This means that they strip out all the extras so its cheaper for them. Stuff like electric rear windows and seats, trip computers, good ICE etc.. Ireland has some of the cheapest car prices in Europe before our Government adds their share.

A Bit of VRT History

Before the days of VRT the Government got its money from Import taxes. Then the EU passed a Directive that said that countries could not add import tax to cars. This was meant to bring the price of cars around Europe in line and to give us that 'Free Market' for the purchase of goods.

Of course, this was not acceptable so we devised VRT. Since this is not a tax on the import they got around the new regulations. VRT (Vehicle Registration Tax) is a tax that allows someone to drive their car on the Irish roads.

This brings the Government a huge amount of money every year so don't even entertain the possibility of it going anywhere. If they do get rid of it, it will just be replaced by something else.

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Farls Registered User

I recently bought a northern car and just wondering why the OMSP is different for each county? I have a legitimite address in a few different counties and rang each revenue office on the same day and they all called out a different price?

Bit strange i thought


Robertr Registered User

Well, they are all using the same system so the actual OSMP is not different. The problem is that you are dealing with different people.

No offence intended, but in my experience, some of the people working in these places have not got a clue about cars. I allways ring at least 3 or 4 different offices and make sure to give them as much information as possible so that I get an accurate quote.

I even had someone quoting me on 2001 reg car on the pre 1997 model. I told them that the quote was way off and there was no way it could be that low but they just kept on repeating "Thats what on the screen". Another office told me what she must have been looking at.

Anyway, in short:

(1) Ring at least 2-3 different offices.
(2) Give them as much information as possible.
(3) If you can't get a consistent quote get the 'Code' off them for the car they are using. They all have an internal code. Then quote this at the other offices to see if they are the same.
(4) If all else fails, ring the office in Rosslare and tell them the problem. They can take your chassis number and get the exact model of the car.

tinofapples Registered User

Do you mind me asking Robert , do you import to sell or do you just import for your own use ?

I had a fairly good idea of what was involved but you've made it a little easier for everyone !!

Robertr Registered User

Do you mind me asking Robert , do you import to sell or do you just import for your own use ?

To be honest, a bit of both. I only buy cars that I like so that I don't mind holding on to them and I usually sell them on after a few months. I only do it as a hobbie so I don't mind sharing my knowledge with everyone.

I have a website (see signature) where I offer to do it, but its nothing that serious. I would encourage people to do it themelves.

I guess if you had the time and money you could probably make a living at it but I've got bigger fish to fry!

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unkel Category Moderator

I have a website (see signature) where I offer to do it, but its nothing that serious

Nice site

Nice car. Have the same model, a '96 735iA myself and would consider importing my next car from the UK

you could probably make a living at it but I've got bigger fish to fry!

Do you mind giving a rough breakdown on above car? I would very much appreciate it. The asking price in the UK is something like £14.950 (€22 something grand) and your asking price over here is €40 grand

I'd be very interested in the split up of this difference in:

- VRT charge
- shipping costs (if not covered by ferry under administrative costs)
- registration costs
- testing costs
- other and administrative costs (flights, ferry, hotel, car rental, telephone, etc.)
- profit margin (including the cover for all the time you spent. How many mandays of work go into importing a car like this?)

Robertr Registered User

Well, I have not idea of the breakdown on that particular car. I just threw a few cars up there last year and did quick estimates of the prices. Don't even know where it is. Probably well gone by now.

Just had a quick look and you would expect to pay around £17,000 for a good quality, hi spec 2000 740i. I did see one for £14,950 but I would tend to stay away from any cars that seem really under priced. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

At a guess you'd be looking at:

Price: £17,000.00
Ex-Rate: .66
EUR Price: €25,757.00

VRT Est: €10,303.00
(I allways estimate at about 40% of the purchase price. Should be less when you get an actual quote but could be more!! You never know)

Expenses: €1,500.00 (can vary depending on car location and type)

Profit Margin: Why pay someone elses profit margin??? Do it yourself!!!

So the all-in cost would be about €37,500.00.

unkel Category Moderator

Thanks for the reply

Starting of with the asking price of £14950, lets say the cash purchase price is £13k (€19.7k). The previous owner of my car who imported it from the UK paid £4k punts in VRT back in early 2001 on a car just over 4 years old. Admittedly, he was probably undercharged.

Lets put a VRT charge of €7k on it shall we? That brings the price up to €27k

A good bit less than the unrealistic asking price of €40k imho. I'm unsure about going the importing route now myself. The few and far between offers of superb barges are very good value in Ireland anyway. Deerparkmotors are quoting under €16k for a '98 735 atm - seems sound value for money

In general, even with VRT, most cars are cheaper from the UK. Obviously, there more expensive the car the more you will save. Anything under €15,000 - €20,000 may not be worth your while but there are some exceptions out there!!

You just proved your point there


If they under quote the VRT can they after you later say a year down the line, and ask for more?

Nuttzz Registered User

is it the same for importing from Northern Ireland?

ando Registered User

Hey Robert, excellent guide.

One question, when calculating the OMSP of a 2 year old car 2nd hand car, is it calculated as if the car was being sold new in Ireland or as a 2 year old, 2nd hand car in Ireland?

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