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UK Car Imports: 6 Things you need to know

Car 3 min read

29 Jan 2020

Importing UK wheels. Is it really worth the hassle?

For those that have heard of the process, there are some known pointers when importing a car from the UK from VRT, to payment and process. We sat down with someone who has been through the process from start to finish to find out more. 

Synergy credit union have also written some great tips on six things to know if you’re importing a car while St. Dominic’s credit union have a specific loan for UK car import loan – covering everything you need. 

If you’d like to chat to your local credit union about what great interest rates they have on car loans, simply submit a request here.

When/why someone might consider importing a car from the UK?

There’s usually a considerable price difference between Irish cars on the domestic market and an imported car from the UK after all expenses. The second biggest thing is how well finished UK cars are. They’re usually main dealer serviced and very well maintained – they are usually driven on better roads than Irish cars. 


What do you need to think about before starting the process?

There’s a bit of desk research required so you’ll need to put some effort into surfing car websites and calling dealers in the UK. You can’t physically see the car either so there’s some risk involved also. You can minimise these risks with the right strategy but it’s defiantly more risky than buying in the domestic market.

One significant thing I noticed is the difference in culture between Ireland and the UK when buying cars. In the UK the price is the price. They don’t wheel and deal like Irish car dealers. Another thing to note is they don’t give you any fuel in a tank when you buy and fuel is very expensive in the UK. Particularly if you’re driving all the way to Wales for Holyhead.

What are the steps from start to finish?

1. Source the car through desk research on Autotrader.co.uk or car supermarkets such as cargiant.co.uk.

2. Convert the price into euro using the most up to date rate that your bank will Sell GBP

3. Vehicle check / inspection: Before purchasing, get the car inspected.

4. Deposit: put down a deposit on the car – and pay by credit card. You will be covered by fraud.

5. Secure Insurance: Call your 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.

6. Organise travel and payment (cash or card) / logistics from airport & ferry

7. Organise VRT : There’s a portion on the VR5 document that is removed if a person is selling a car in the UK to another UK resident. If the car is being exported, make sure they retain this part of the document, as you don't want  to retrospectively apply for new documentation.  

8. Book appointment and pay VRT at an NCT centre. VRT is due immediately and you can’t tax the car until it’s paid and on Irish plates. They give you an Irish registration plate number and you just get new plates printed / mounted. 

9. Tax and Insure


How much can it cost in total (excluding cost of car)?

About €1.5k which would cover one way flights / temp insurance / one night accommodation/ fuel / ferry / spending money.

And how much can you save on the car?

 It was about €5,000. That was on a nearly new (18 month old) Audi A5. (So worth approx. €20,000).

What would you advise someone to watch out for?

I’d say - do your research and compare to domestic market. If you’ve cash at the minute I think you can knock a very good deal out domestically and save yourself the hassle of going abroad. The government have also raised the VRT rates considerably so I’m not sure the savings are as sweet anymore. 
Also watch the strength of the GBP / bank conversion fees. That can hammer you and make the car very expensive in the space of a few days after you’ve committed cash to getting a deal over the line. (Vehicle inspection etc.) 

Any last tips you’d give to someone thinking about doing it?

Know the car you want. Possibly test drive it in Ireland and make sure you’ve listed / researched all the costs (Especially VRT and GBP FX) 
It’s a really enjoyable process in my opinion. I love UK cars as the market is vast. I also make a little break out of the journey. If you’ve done your research the actual travel / picking up the car should be the best part. Make a weekend out of it and casually drive back to the ferry. 

So there you have it. Should you need any help with the financing, we’re always on hand for a quick chat – your local credit union could even have a special UK car import loan!

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