Importing a Car from the UK to Ireland

The threat of Brexit resulted in a substantial drop in the value of Sterling Vs the Euro. In the past 12 months this has helped to make importing a car from the UK to Ireland even more affordable than usual. The Pound is still providing quite good value for Irish car buyers. (See latest exchange rate news Here)

As well as better prices – the UK has a bigger choice of used cars than here in Ireland. Many cars have better specs and it’s close enough to keep transport costs fairly low. (Especially if you are buying in Northern Ireland)

In  2019 – the number of imported private cars licensed here was 108,895 an increase of 9.5% on 2018 . There were only 113,305 new cars registered  so almost  49% of all new car registrations in Ireland in 2019 were on imported cars.

What is the Best car to Import From UK to Ireland ?

A good indicator of the best import car is popularity.
The top 5 car imports from the UK to Ireland are:  (based on figures from Q3 2019) :

1. Volkswagen Golf
2. Ford Focus
3.Nissan Qashqai
4.BMW 5 Series
5. Audi A6

The prices of cars in Northern Ireland are generally more expensive than those in England /Wales  – but the ease of access and reduced transport costs from Northern Ireland sometimes make it the best option.

Getting the Best Exchange Rate:

The savings to be made when buying a car in the UK and bringing it back to Ireland will vary alongside the euro sterling exchange rate. A a stronger Euro or weaker Pound will result in even bigger savings. The weakness of Sterling seems to be the main driver of UK car imports – with 95% of all used car imports originating in the UK.

Many people just ignore the effect that currency exchange rates, fees and commissions have on the final price of their UK car import. The easy option might seem to be to let your bank take care of the currency exchange. If you do this you are guaranteed to lose a few hundred euro.

The Banks don’t all use a “standard”  – it will vary depending on the amount involved and they usually add a profit margin of 2% to 5 %. But there are other places you can use to convert your currency.

Alternatives to your Bank  : Currency Transfer

Currency Fair is an Irish online currency exchange service regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. You can lodge Euros with a debit card or bank transfer. If you use them, they say you could save as much as £250 on a £10,000 transfer to the UK compared to using one of the main banks.
First Ten transfers for free using this link

Fexco  is based in Ireland, with operations in 29 countries worldwidefexco . They can usually offer car buyers better exchange rates than the main banks.  You can quickly request a quote online on their dedicated page for Irish UK car imports. Once a figure has been agreed – you transfer the Euros to Fexco and the seller will receive the Sterling into their account. (Same day if necessary)
Fexco has been around since 1981 and is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland, and by the Financial Conduct Authority for the conduct of payment business in the UK.

Read more details about other options for paying for a car in the UK. 

There can be fairly big financial savings when importing a used car from the UK. Obviously – on more expensive cars you will have bigger savings.

A  price comparison published in 2014 on found that savings of between €1800 and €8900 could be made when buying a used car in the UK instead of buying a very similar one here in Ireland. The comparison included the VRT and also included  €900 in “extra costs” such as transport, checks and travel.

VAT and UK Car Imports

Currently, VAT only has to be paid on used UK car imports if the imported car is less than 6 months old or has done less than 6000 km. But a “No Deal” Brexit could result in price increases on UK used car imports to Ireland

A no-deal Brexit would result in VAT having to be charged on all UK used car imports – which could increase prices by as much as 23%. It is likely that customs duty of 10% would also apply.
So – if you are thinking of buying a used car from the UK – you might want to try and do it sooner rather than later.

VRT: When importing a car into Ireland  – buyers need to be aware that VRT (Vehicle Registration Tax) also has to be paid  The VRT is calculated on the Revenue’s assessment of the car’s  “open market selling price ”  (OMPS) in Ireland rather than its UK price.  VRT is calculated as a percentage of the OMPS – with lower CO2 emission cars having a lower rate of VRT. The lowest rate of VRT is 14% .
You can get an estimate of the VRT to be paid on an imported car here

Top Tip : If you buy a vehicle in the UK but do not have a UK address you will need to take the full vehicle log book (V5C) from the seller (not just the new keeper’s slip) .Do not buy a UK used car without a logbook (V5C).