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What do you think of VRT rates and imports?

I understand that the import duty tax has risen from 10 per cent to 11 per cent as of 1/1/19. Do you think it should or could increase again after Brexit in order to help save the motor trade in the Republic and to try persuade people to stay and buy Irish? I feel that if the import duty tax went to 12.5 per cent it would stop people going to England or up North. What is your opinion on the matter?

Filed under importing - Asked by Patrick Devitt (Dublin) - Wed, 02 Jan 2019 09:11


Hi Patrick,

Well, sadly, it’s just not that simple. The one per cent surcharge for Vehicle Registration Tax applies only to diesel-engined vehicles, and it’s not a flat-rate rise from ten per cent to 11 per cent, but a one per cent rise across all the VRT bands. VRT has always been something of an iniquitous tax. The thing is that, potentially, you’re right; a VRT increase could possibly dissuade buyers from shopping in the UK, and send them back to Irish forecourts, but only if it were applied to private imports, rather than new registrations through a dealer. That’s problematic too, though, as many dealers actually shop for second hand stock in the UK, given the tendency of Irish cars to be low in spec and small in number. Would such a new tax apply to those imports? Should it? If not, is that unfair to those private individuals who are merely ’shopping around’ for the best value? And given that, technically, every car brought into the state is an import, where does one draw the line when it comes to manufacturer imports versus private imports? VRT is many things, both right and wrong, but one thing it’s sure not is simple.

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