How to import a used car from the UK

Importing a car from the UK can mean serious savings if you do your research. Laura Keane guides you through some easy steps 

Even with extortionate VRT fees here you can often pick up a really good bargain up north or across the pond. If you haven’t done it before it can all seem a bit daunting, but it need not be if you do your research and are well prepared.  Here are my tips to importing a car:

  1. Log onto the VRT website and calculate how much this unnecessary extra is going to cost you (if you are importing a car that isn’t fairly well known – prepare to have a random figure plucked from the air which will probably result in you going down the appeals route).
  2. I would highly recommend using a car checker site that tells you the history of the car.
  3. Call the buyer and get a feel for them i.e. whether you feel they are genuine or not. Write down a list of questions and ask them all – there is no point in driving/flying all the way to see it and then being disappointed. If you want more photos don’t be afraid to ask – if the seller really wants to get rid of their car and knows you are coming all the way from the Ireland they won’t mind. If they do, then think twice about whether or not they are the type of person you want to deal with – we’ve all gone to look at cars where the seller doesn’t even bother showing up.
  4. If you decide you are going to buy, order your sterling from the bank and arrange a time and date to meet – make sure that you ask the buyer if they have the FULL V5 form, if they don’t – walk away. You will only bring a lot of hassle upon yourself (see point 7).
  5. Ring your insurer and get transferred over to the new car. Make sure they cover you in the UK.
  6. If you decide to purchase – get a hand written receipt from the seller – important things to have on it are the purchase price and the date, along with their signature. REMEMBER: whatever date is on the receipt you will have to pay backdated tax for that month. So if it’s towards the end of the month, try leaving the purchase until the start of the following month – that way you won’t have to pay for the month that the car wasn’t in your possession.
  7. Check the V5 form – the first inside page is very important. Things to note here are the chassis number and also the CO2 emissions figure – it is this that the NCT will mainly go off of with regard to calculating VRT.  If you don’t have this then you will have to write to your car’s brand headquarters and request official CO2 figures for the car (this can take a long time to source). If you can’t obtain this you will be charged at the highest rate applicable.
  8. If you are happy with all of this, hand over your hard earned cash – you are the proud owner of a new car!
  9. I wouldn’t recommend driving from the UK if the car hasn’t valid tax and MOT (they often don’t) as the police can impound your car if you are caught on the way home.
  10. Book your VRT inspection online – there is currently a long waiting list. Print out your booking confirmation and keep it in the car along with your purchase receipt, in case you are stopped by the Gardaí. Remember also that you can’t NCT or tax the car until it is registered. There is not much you can do about this especially if it’s your only car and daily driver, but technically you shouldn’t be driving on the road. Your insurers will cover you temporarily while driving on UK plates.
  11. When the day for your inspection comes – make sure you have all the documentation you need – otherwise you’ll be turned away and you’ve waited so long for a date you don’t want that to happen!  The following are the documents you’ll need to bring:

-Declaration form (available from NCT website)

-V5 form

-Purchase receipt

-ID (drivers licence, passport etc.)

-Utility bill with your address on it (dated from the last 6 months)

-P60 or PPS card (However, I wasn’t asked for this)

  1. Follow the NCT inspector outside to check over your car – they will look to see if the chassis number matches the V5 form and the mileage. In my case – if the inspector is into cars he will also ask you how much you’ll sell it for or can they buy the seats from you J
  2. Go back inside and hope that the figure that they quoted you on the website matches the figure you’re given on the day and again, hand over your hard earned cash.
  3. Get your registration plates done up, apply for tax and book your NCT. It takes a few days after it has been VRT’d to register on the NCT database before you can book. Remember that the date of registration is the day it was registered in Ireland and not the original date of registration on the V5 form.

I found the whole experience very easy as I had prepared well – as Roy Keane once said “failure to prepare – prepare to fail”


Laura Keane


6th July, 2017



Author: Laura Keane

Equine science graduate, loves all animals, has two siamese cats, fish, a lizard and a snake. Loves music, fashion, driving, cars and track days. If there is a dancefloor – she'll be on it!. You can follow Laura on Twitter at @optical_laura

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  1. Hi Laura

    We provide an online portal to view cars based in the UK. These can be ordered through the process outlined on our site.We complete all elements including registration in Ireland.

    We offer advice to the general public for free

    If you would like us to help in any of your research do call us

    Many Thanks


  2. Thanks Laura, was unsure as to whether the NCT would be from when the car was registered in the UK or registered here so this clears it up!!

  3. We have bought two cars from the UK but it was always from a registered dealer (Ford in Lisburn) and always had perfect service. Never a hassle, both cars with full service history and documentation, we were even given a print out from the Motorcheck and the standard equipment much higher than in Ireland. They even let an AA inspector drive and inspect the car.
    Once you are bringing in a car with the full documentation from the UK you never have a problem with the VRT and registering the car in Ireland. Never took longer than few minutes.

  4. I would not recommend anyone to buy a car privately in another jurisdiction. Trying to save money buying a car in another country has pitfalls even if you buy from a main dealer, going private is just too risky and a recipe for disaster.
    Remember car dealer don’t make money on every car, so a private individual has a higher risk of losing. If you encounter problems later you have virtually no recourse with a private vendor. Even a main dealership in another jurisdiction may not be as nice after you bought if you encounter a problem as he knows the legal hassles of court case in another jurisdiction will probably put you off.
    My advice is holiday abroad and buy your car at home and preferably from a main franchise dealer.

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