Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT)

VRT and registration

All motor vehicles in the State must be registered within 30 days of their date of entry. This, however, does not extend to:

  • certain vehicles kept by authorised motor traders
  • and
  • foreign registered vehicles brought in temporarily and driven by visitors to the State for non-business purposes.

Foreign registered vehicles may also, in exceptional circumstances related to business use, be driven by a State resident.

VRT is charged, in most cases, when a vehicle is registered in the State.

In certain cases, a full or partial exemption from VRT may apply. If you are transferring your residence to the State you may be entitled to an exemption from VRT. There are a number of conditions (see VRT Manual Section 02). You should carefully study these to see if you are eligible.

The requirement to register

It is an offence to drive an unregistered vehicle in the State. If you do not register your vehicle, Revenue or the Gardaí can detain it. It could also be seized by Revenue and may be released on the payment of a penalty.

The National Car Testing Service (NCTS) registers vehicles on behalf of Revenue. To register a vehicle, you must:

  • make an appointment with the NCTS within seven days of bringing the vehicle into the State
  • and
  • register it within 30 days of bringing it into the State.

You will pay additional VRT if you fail to register the vehicle within 30 days. This usually arises where evidence of the date of entry into the State is not produced.

Registering a new vehicle

A valid Certificate of Conformity (CoC) must be entered on the Revenue system before a new vehicle can be registered.

A CoC contains information produced by a manufacturer that is unique to each vehicle manufactured. In effect, the CoC is a statement by the manufacturer that the vehicle conforms to EU standards, including safety.

How this affects you

When purchasing a new vehicle in the State, the dealer will register the vehicle.

Otherwise, you must register the vehicle yourself. You must get the CoC, either in paper or electronic form, from the seller. You must check in advance that the car seller has a CoC and the other mandatory documentation prior to purchase.

You must enter the CoC using either myAccount or ROS. If the CoC is provided in the correct XML format, you may upload it.  XML CoCs can only be generated by the manufacturer.  It is not possible to convert a PDF or Word file to the correct format. The CoC can also be inputted manually. This manual will assist you e-CoC Procedures Manual.

The CoC must be uploaded prior to your NCTS appointment.

Registering a used vehicle

If buying a vehicle from abroad, you must get the foreign registration documents from the seller. You should check in advance that the car seller has this and the other mandatory documentation.

The UK has specific requirements regarding the sale of vehicles, please see their advice on selling a vehicle.

Procedure at the NCTS centre

Registering a used car

If registering a used car, bring:

  • the foreign registration certificate or certificate of de-registration as issued by the relevant registration authority in the other State
  • confirmation of the level of CO2 emissions of the vehicle at the time of manufacture
  • and
  • confirmation of the level of NOx emissions at the time of manufacture.

Evidence of previous registration will be retained by the National Car Testing Service (NCTS) Centre. Please make a copy of this document before going to the NCTS Centre.

Registering a new car

If registering a new car, please bring a hardcopy Certificate of Conformity (CoC).

Vehicle valuations

Revenue staff do not provide estimates for vehicles that have not been presented for registration.

Other documents

In addition, you must always bring the following:

  • A passport or a driving licence.
  • The appropriate Vehicle Purchase Details (VPD) Form, that is Form VRTVPD1 for an authorised motor trader, otherwise Form VRTVPD2.
  • An invoice clearly showing the date of purchase.
  • Documentation verifying the registered owner’s name and address, for example, a hardcopy utility bill or a bank statement. Otherwise two online statements from two different service providers must be submitted. These must be a utility bill and a bank statement. If registering a vehicle for someone else, you must have a signed letter authorising you to do so. You must also bring their proof of identity, in addition to your own. Authorised motor traders may bring a copy of the driver’s licence of the person who will be the registered owner.
  • The Personal Public Service Number (PPSN) of the person who will be the registered owner. Official documentary evidence is required.
  • An authorised motor trader, when registering a vehicle for a customer, should give their Revenue Customer Number.
  • Evidence of the date a vehicle entered the State is required. This can include shipping details or travel documents. Provide the single administrative document (SAD) number for transport from outside the European Union (EU). Where the invoice is more than 30 days old, evidence of vehicle storage outside the State may be required.
  • If appropriate, the Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) exemption notification issued by Revenue.


The vehicle will be examined at the NCTS centre to ensure it matches the documentation. If documentation is not supplied, or the vehicle does not match it, the vehicle will not be registered.

You can pay any tax due by:

  • debit card
  • bank draft (payable to ‘Applus Inspection Services Ltd.’)
  • credit card, excluding American Express.

After payment a vehicle registration number will issue.

You do not have to pay a separate charge at the NCTS for the registration service. Revenue pay for one appointment only. Second appointments are at the customers expense.

Situations may arise where a registration might not be completed on the day. If a vehicle model is not listed on our system, Revenue must value the vehicle individually. The NCTS centre will then follow up with the customer regarding completing the registration. This is not considered a second appointment.

Please see the NCTS website for further details.

General information on registration

When purchasing a new vehicle, the motor dealer will register it at the point of sale.  The dealer will pay the Vehicle Registration Tax and Value Added Tax to Revenue. Therefore, the total price you pay for the car includes the VRT and VAT.  Dealers will also supply registration plates.

In all other cases you must register your vehicle at a National Car Testing Service centre (NCTS). At the NCTS centre the vehicle will be inspected and the tax payable calculated by the operator. After you have paid the relevant tax due a registration number will be issued to you.

Motor tax

Only when the vehicle has been successfully registered can it then be motor taxed, and a registration certificate issued.  See motor tax for further information.

Foreign registration certificates

Most used cars are imported into the State are bought in the United Kingdom. It is essential that you get the UK Registration Certificate, the UK ‘V5’, when you are buying your vehicle. Failure to present the relevant FRC will lead to registration being refused.

There is a 30-day time limit to register vehicles in the State.  Customers must ensure they have all required documentats at the time of inspection.  Registrations started after the 30-day limit will incur additional charges.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) Emissions

The VRT charge on cars is calculated using CO2 emissions. The higher your car’s COemissions, the more VRT payable.

Since 1 April 2020 V5’s have only shown World Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) CO2 emissions.   WLTP emissions are usually a little higher than the New European Drive Cycle (NEDC) emissions. Prior to 1 April 2020 the V5 declared the older NEDC tested emissions.

When presenting your vehicle for registration, the WLTP figure on the V5 will be used to calculate the tax.    NEDC emissions will only be used if evidence in the form of a Certificate of Conformity is presented.

From 1 January 2021 all registrations will be based on WLTP.

The level of CO2 emissions must be confirmed by you as part of the registration inspection. Apart from the VRT calculator Revenue will accept CO2 emissions information provided it is listed among the following sources:

Some older cars will show the level of CO2 emissions in the owner’s manual. Revenue has CO2 emissions details of over 12,000 models available on the VRT Calculator. Customers should note that this only represents a sample of popular models.

For third country imports the following documents are acceptable:

  • The previous registration certificate
  • or
  • The Certificate of Conformity


Nitrogen Oxide (NOx emissions)

From 2020 the VRT charge on Category A vehicles will be updated to include a NOx emissions charge. Further information on this can be found in Nitrogen Oxide emissions.

Customers should note that V5’s issued after April 2019 will not have a NOx value. These should be supplemented with a Certificate of Conformity.

Registration plates

When a vehicle is registered at an NCTS centre you will be given your registration number. You will then be able to get your number plates. These must be displayed on the front and rear of the vehicle and clearly visible at all times. Vehicles with only one wheel at the front, such as motorcycles may only display a plate at the rear.

Registration plates are not supplied by Revenue. They can be acquired from any source once they are to the required standards.

Note that there is a very specific format and size for the registration plates. It is illegal to display plates on a vehicle that do not comply with the law. You could be fined up to €5,000 if you display plates that do not meet the required standards.

Reserving a registration number

For €1,000 you can apply to Revenue for a particular registration number for the current year.

To reserve a number, you must apply to the Central Vehicle Office.  Applications must be made on or after 1 November in the year before it is intended to first register the vehicle.

If your application is not successful, your payment of €1,000 will be refunded to you.

The number and county chosen must:

  • be in the normal registration number format
  • correspond with the year and half year in which the vehicle is first registered.  An application to reserve 181-D-2:
    • may only be made for a vehicle to be first registered in 2018
    • and
    • correspond with the place where the applicant normally resides.

The registered owner must be the person in whose name the number was reserved. Reserved numbers are not transferable.

All registration numbers are available for reservation except the number ‘1’ in:

  • Cork (161-C-1 and 162-C-1)
  • Dublin (161-D-1 and 162-D-1)
  • Limerick (161-L-1 and 162-L-1)
  • Waterford (161-W-1 and 162-W-1).

A reserved registration number can only be assigned to a vehicle when it is reached in the normal sequence. It may not be displayed on a vehicle before it has been formally assigned by Revenue.

A reserved registration number will only be assigned in the year to which it relates.

Applications for reservation of registration numbers should be sent via MyEnquiries, to the Central Vehicle Office.

ZZ registrations, vintage vehicles and ZV plates

ZZ registrations

The ZZ system of temporary registration is administered by the Automobile Association (AA) of Ireland on behalf of Revenue.

A vehicle which is not permanently registered can use a ZZ registration for up to one month prior to its exportation.

A ZZ registration consists of the letters ZZ followed by a unique five-digit number.

In order to qualify for temporary registration, the following criteria must first be met:

  • the vehicle must be in Ireland temporarily
  • the applicant must be a person established outside Ireland
  • and
  • all taxes (for example, Value Added Tax (VAT) and Customs Duty) must be paid.

Application forms and other information on the application procedure are available from:

AA Rescue Operations Centre
Unit D Merrywell Business Park
Ballymount Road Lower
Dublin 12

For ZZ registration queries please email:

Vintage vehicles and ZV plates

A vintage vehicle is a vehicle proved to be more than 30 years old. You should supply the mandatory documentation when registering vintage vehicles.

However, sometimes not all of the original documentation is available. In these circumstances, a declaration in respect of the vehicle particulars from an enthusiast’s organisation or club may suffice. However, such a declaration must contain the data necessary for registration. Additional documentation may be requested, at Revenue’s discretion, to verify the identity and age of the vehicle.

You can also avail of the special ‘ZV’ series of registration numbers available for ‘vintage’ cars. A typical registration plate in this series would be ZV 4723.   There is no additional cost to obtain ‘ZV’ series plates.

Format of registration plates


The format, dimensions and technical specifications of registration plates to be displayed on motor vehicles are detailed in S.I No. 318 of 1992 (as amended).

Generally, the registration plate must consist of:

  • black numbers and letters on a white reflective background
  • the name of the county of registration in Irish at the top of the plate
  • the flag of the European Community.   This must comprise twelve gold stars in a circle with the letters IRL in white on a blue reflective background.  The flag must appear on the left-hand side of the plate.

No other numbers, letters or marks should appear on the plate.

Vehicles registered before 31 December 2012

The format YY – County – sequential number will apply to vehicles that were registered before 31 December 2012.  This applies to vehicles registered either in Ireland or another country.

Example:  A car imported in 2017 that was first registered in the UK in 2011 will be registered as 11-xx-xxxx.

Image of acceptable pre 2013 number plate format

Image of acceptable pre 2013 number plate format

Vehicles registered since 1 January 2013

The format YY[1 or 2] – County – sequential number will apply to all vehicles registered since 1 January 2013.  This applies to vehicles registered either in Ireland or another country.    For registration purposes the year is broken into two halves.   YY1 applies to vehicles registered between 1 January and 30 June.  YY2 applies to vehicles registered between 1 July and 31 December.

Image of acceptable post 2012 number plate format

Image of acceptable post 2012 number plate format

Image of acceptable post 2012 number plate format

Image of acceptable post 2012 number plate format

Registering machinery

Certain mobile machines are not required to be registered. These include mobile machines which are not:

  • a means of transport for either goods or passengers
  • and
  • are not based on a conventional truck chassis.

Examples include:

  • road roller
  • road planer
  • road paver
  • back-hoe loader
  • digging machine
  • large mobile cranes
  • self-propelled mobile access platform (cherry picker – non-vehicle mounted).

Machinery which must be registered

A vehicle described as mobile machinery, but on a conventional truck chassis, is required to be registered. If there is Certificate of Conformity relating to a vehicle, it is subject to EU type-approval. Any vehicle subject to EU type-approval is required to be registered. The normal registration procedure applies.

The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) should be contacted if a CoC is not available from the original manufacturer.

Concessionary registration of self-propelled mobile machinery

Self-propelled mobile machinery which is not required to be registered may be registered by concession. In general, a registration request for a mobile machine follows the normal registration procedure. However, a CoC will not be available.

If a mobile machine is new, a registration request must include:

  • a Declaration of Conformity under the Machinery Directive
  • and
  • a declaration from the manufacturer or distributor that the machine meets the requirements of the Road Traffic Regulations.

Machinery that comes within the scope of the Non-Road Mobile Machinery Directive must have the relevant DOC relating to the emissions.

If the vehicle has been used, but not registered, the documents outlined above are still required. A year index will be assigned based on the date of first entry into use.

If used and previously registered, the foreign registration document is required.

Presentation of self-propelled mobile machinery

All mobile machinery is required to be brought to the appointment at the NCTS centre, except for the following:

  • mobile machinery over 5 tonnes
  • mobile cranes
  • bulldozers
  • dumpers
  • construction machinery.

Please confirm that a vehicle does not need to physically be presented at the centre when making an appointment.

Photographs of the particular machinery item, including the VIN number, must be supplied.

Share this article