Vehicle Registration Tax

Upon first registration of a vehicle in Ireland an excise duty called vehicle registration tax is payable. The Revenue Commissioners have authority to specify conditions for registration of vehicles and the collection generally of vehicle registration tax.

The tax is payable at the time of registration or the time of making a specified declaration. Applications for registration must include a certificate of conformity with the EU directives.

Certain reliefs are available, for example, in connection with change of residence.  Vehicles brought temporarily into the State need not be registered.

There are special provisions in respect of wholesalers, manufacturers, dealers, etc.  There are control provisions in respect of such persons.

The tax applies to mechanically propelled vehicles including bicycles with engine and vehicles powered by electricity.

Vehicles are divided into categories A to D.  Vehicles may be modified and change categories. The Revenue Commissioners establish a national register of vehicles.  This contains details of ownership and connected matters.  It may be maintained electronically.

It is an offence to have in one’s possession or charged an unregistered vehicle or converted vehicle which has not been declared to the Revenue Commissioners. There is provision for a register of vehicles temporarily in the State and solely for the use of persons established outside the State.


Vehicles and are registered on a national vehicle file. The Revenue Commissioners maintain the register. Vehicles are entered upon completion of vehicle registration.

There are obligations on manufacturers and importers who bring vehicles into the State to register them within seven days of arrival. This may be required as part of the importation and for customs purposes in the case of vehicles arriving from outside the European Union.

The Revenue Commissioners appoint persons to carry out preregistration vehicle examinations to determine that the vehicle complies with the relevant requirements. Vehicle test result put must comply with requirements of Revenue Commissioners and the regulations on the construction and use of vehicles..

Cars are approved under EU derived legislation by the National Standards Authority of Ireland. There is a vehicle type approval certificate. The car makers issue a certificate of conformity with the relevant approved prototype.

Certain conversions of vehicles must be registered, and the register of particulars must be modified accordingly.

Certificate of Registration

The Department of the Environment issues a certificate of registration to each owner in the prescribed form. The local authority / licensing authority shall not issue a licence for a vehicle unless it has been registered in the Revenue register. The Revenue Commissioners may at the request of the person with reasonable grounds and subject to payment of a fee provide details and information on the register and copies of entries.

There is an exemption from registration for vehicles temporarily brought into the State by persons established outside the State.  There are also exemptions for vehicles brought in for exhibitions, demonstration, shows, etc.

An officer of the Revenue Commissioners or member of An Garda Siochana may require to inspect registration document.  Where a vehicle has not been registered where required or has been converted or tax has not been paid the vehicle may be detained while necessary to carry out enquiries and investigations.


The local authority and Department of Environment may each maintain records of the national vehicle file and local authority in  respect of each vehicle.  Records may be derived from other registers. Licensing authorities may give particulars of entry in their records subject to payment of fees.

Where a person acquires a vehicle he has obligations to enter his name and address in respect in the relevant part of the certificate and forward it to the registration authority.   There are different provisions in respect of vehicles first licence after 1 January 1993 and before

Identification Marks

The identification mark must be displayed on the vehicle in the manner prescribed by law.  It is an offence to fail to do so.  The identification mark assigned is determined by the Revenue under certain rules.

The Commissioners assign a unique identification mark to each vehicle following the issue of the licence.  There is provision for persons to apply for an alternative registration number subject payment of fees.

The identification mark/registration number is generally composed of the year of first use (and after 2013 one further digits indicating registration within the first or second half of the year), the county letter or letters and the number. The prescribed format also includes the EU flag marking and the county name in Irish. The dimensions size and other details of the identification mark are prescribed.

The registration plate must be displayed and illuminated  generally on the front and back of the vehicle. It is also required on a trailer. The format, size specifications and location of the identification mark are prescribed in detail.  The rules are quite specific.

Generally only one index mark is assigned to the vehicle.  Once one number is assigned it must be affixed within three days.

They may not be displayed on any other vehicle. Certain public authorities have access to the registers. The Revenue Commissioners may on being shown  that a person has legitimate  grounds for so requesting furnish details of entries in the register on payment of a fee.

The frame number and engine number and in the case of a motorbike and chassis number and engine number of a vehicle shall be exhibited permanently in a legible form.


There is provision for issue of a registration certificate for each vehicle upon completion of licensing.  It may be required to be produced by An Garda Siochana at any reasonable time upon request.

When change of use of vehicles takes place which affects duty the registration certificate must be returned to the authority.  A difference in  licence fee must be paid.

On a change of address the owner must notify the relevant details to the licensing authority.


On the sale of a vehicle other than one being sent publicly outside the State the transferring owner must complete a particular form and deliver it to the authorities.

The new owner must retain certain parts.  The new owner must insert his name on the relevant certificate to facilitate the notation of the transfer. The authority must acknowledge the transfer and stamp and forward the relevant certificate to the new owner. There are different requirements depending on whether the vehicle was first registered before or after 1 January 1993.

Where the registered owner does not provide information in relation to transferees or persons using the vehicle either by consent or under agreement, they are deemed to be driving for the purpose of the alleged offence.

A person who without reasonable excuse fails to provide a member of An Garda Siochana or traffic warden with a document above, including in  particular vehicle registration documents or information as to identity of the owner is guilty of an offence subject on summary conviction to a fine of up to €3,000.


A member of the Gardai who  suspects that a vehicle has not been duly registered may detain the vehicle for the purpose of carrying out examination enquiries and investigations in relation to whether the vehicle has been registered and the relevant vehicle registration tax has been paid. He may require the vehicle to remain stationary and detain it or cause it to be taken to a place for the purpose of making  enquiries.

It is an offence to use an unregistered vehicle in a public place in breach of conditions It is an offence not to display the requisite identification mark. A person guilty of such offence is subject on summary conviction to a fine up to €5000.

It is an offence to be in possession of a vehicle which is unregistered unless it is authorised or otherwise qualifies for exemptions. A person who knowingly evades or takes steps to evade vehicle registration tax may be tried summarily with a fine up to €5000 and or 12 months imprisonment or both or on indictment with a fine up to €127,000 and the imprisonment of up to 5 years of both.

A vehicle which contravenes the requirements for registration is subject to forfeiture on conviction. The onus of proof is on the person charged to prove that vehicle registration tax has been paid. A certificate or document or extract from a register is sufficient proof.

Temporary Entry

A person  must register the vehicle within 30 days of bringing it into the State.  He or she should make an appointment with NCTS within 7 days of the vehicle’s arrival into the State.

There are provisions for temporary registration of a vehicle within the State.  Vehicles so registered are assigned to the ZZ register.  They are initially valid for a month and may be extended for a limited period.

A vehicle which is in the State temporarily may be entered on the temporary register. It  must be used only by persons established /based outside the State.

A vehicle brought temporarily into the State from outside for private or business use may be exempt from registration subject to conditions. Vehicles in the State for more than 42 days or such additional period as may be prescribed by the Commissioner’s may be required to be registered.

Temporary Register

A vehicle may be subject to temporary registration in  the State where the person concerned is established (resident or based) outside the State and the vehicle is temporarily in the State. A ZZ  identification mark is assigned, and a registration card is given.

The identification mark is to be displayed on the vehicle. The registration is valid for a month which may be extended by Revenue Commissioners. The Automobile Association of Ireland maintains the ZZ register.

There are separate EU rules which facilitate temporary present of vehicles in the State without re-registraion.

Normal Residence

Establishment refers to a person having his or her normal residence outside the State. Normal residence generally is the place where the person  usually live, for at least 185 days each year, because of occupational and personal ties. If  he /  she  live in two different countries due to occupational and personal ties, the normal residence is the country of  personal ties provided:

  • he  return there regul.arly or
  • if he is e working abroad carrying out a task of definite duration for less than one year.
  • not affected by living abroad to study

Revenue Commissioners will require proof of normal residence by way of transactions carried out for day-to-day living in that place.

Transfer of Residence

A person moving from within the EU,  must submit the  application to the National VRT Service via MyEnquiries where possible.  A person  must register the vehicle within 30 days of bringing it into the State.  He or she should make an appointment with NCTS within 7 days of the vehicle’s arrival into the State.

To claim the Transfer of Residence (TOR) relief from VRT, he / she  must submit a Transfer of Residence (TOR) application form and full supporting documentation to the National VRT Service. He /she should claim the relief within 7 days of bringing the vehicle into the State.

If Revenue approves the  TOR claim, then no VRT will be payable when he registers the vehicle.   If  a person moves from outside the EU, he must apply at the customs office where you enter the State. To qualify, he  must prove he has had normal residence abroad and is  taking up normal residence in the State.

He  will need evidence, both abroad and in the State, of:

  • acquiring and disposing of a home (for example, rent agreements, mortgage documents and rent or mortgage payments)
  • employment (for example, pay slips, tax records and social welfare records)
  • day-to-day living (bank statements or transaction documents, bills or receipts for electricity, phone, service charges and other day-to-day living expenses)
  • travel into and out of the country.

Vehicle requirements

The vehicle must:

  • be his  personal property
  • have been in your possession and used by you for at least six months before transfer of residence. Any possession and use in the State, even during times when you were living abroad, does not count.
  • brought into the State within 12 months of the date of your transfer of residence
  • be fully tax and duty paid.

Evidence required in respect of the vehicle will usually consist of:

  • vehicle registration document
  • certificate of insurance
  • purchase receipt
  • ferry ticket to show when the vehicle arrived in the State
  • evidence of the vehicles use abroad, for example, service and maintenance records and evidence that motor tax has been paid.

The VRT relieved becomes payable in full if the person sells or disposes of the vehicle within 12 months following registration. A person does do not qualify if he has have been abroad on a task of any definite duration and granted similar relief for a vehicle in the previous five years.

Powers of Enforcement

An authorised officer of the Revenue Commissioners may enter premises in which vehicles are manufactured, disturbed, stored, repaired, disposed of for the purpose of enforcing the legislation.  They may require all books, records and documents to be produced.  They may make such searches as they think fit.  They may take copies of books, accounts and documents.  They may remove the same.  Persons on the premises must co-operate.

Persons in charge of a vehicle must permit the Revenue Commissioners or persons authorised to allow a vehicle to be examined or furnish such information in relation to the vehicle and produce it within such time as may be required.  Vehicles may be detained for investigations.

Members of An Garda Siochana may stop vehicles for the purpose of enforcement of the legislation.

The  provisions in relation to enforcement of excise duties apply.  Entries of registers or computer stored records are sufficient evidence for the purpose of enforcement of prosecution.


Important Notice! This website is provided for informational purposes only! It is a fundamental condition of the use of this website that no liability is accepted for any loss or damage caused by reason of any error, omission, or misstatement in its contents. 

Draft Articles; The articles on this website are in draft form and are subject to further review for typographical errors and, in some cases, updating and correction. It is intended to include references to the sources of materials and acknowledgements in the final version. The content of articles with [EU] in the title and some of the articles in the section on Agriculture are a reproduction of or are based on European or Irish public sector information.

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