Motor Road Tax Prices in Ireland Explained

Long, long ago, in Ireland, our motor tax prices were based on the basis of how big our engines were. That explained why only rich people bought cars with engines bigger than 2.0 litres, and the rest of us were happy with a 1.1 Fiesta. That all changed in 2008, when the Fianna Fail-Green government brought in a new system that ditched the old engine capacity rules in favour of CO2 emissions. Cars registered before 2008 stuck to the old engine capacity system. But pre-2008 cars imported from overseas have to go on the new system. And it's different for vans and trucks. Confused? Let us try to explain...

If you have a car registered before 2008 and it's not an import:

Then you're on the old by-engine-capacity taxation system, so you'll pay €199 a year for anything under 1.0-litre. The rest of the table goes like this...

1,001cc to 1,100cc: €299
1,101cc to 1,200cc: €330
1,201cc to 1,300cc: €358
1,301cc to 1,400cc: €385
1,401cc to 1,500cc: €413
1,501cc to 1,600cc: €514
1,601cc to 1,700cc: €544
1,710cc to 1,800cc: €636
1,801cc to 1,900cc: €673
1,901cc to 2,000cc: €710
2,001cc to 2,100cc: €906
2,101cc to 2,200cc: €951
2,201cc to 2,300cc: €994
2,301cc to 2,400cc: €1,034
2,401cc to 2,500cc: €1,080
2,501cc to 2,600cc: €1,294
2,601cc to 2,700cc: €1,345
2,701cc to 2,800cc: €1,391
2,810cc to 2,900cc: €1,443
2,901cc to 3,000cc: €1,494
3,001cc or more: €1,809

As can be seen from that chart, the Irish tax authorities still clearly believe that anyone with a big engined car is wealthy and can be thoroughly squeezed for tax. It's a system that has stifled Irish car buying over the years, destroying the sales prospects of more than a few larger-engined cars.

If you have a car bought or imported since 2008...

The CO2-based system introduced in 2008 initially used single bands, arranged from A to G, but it was quickly realised that such a flat-rate style system wasn't tenable at a time when you could buy a large, executive-style car with a low emissions diesel engine - what became known as the BMW 520d effect. People started to question the wisdom of allowing wealthy executive car owners to often be able to pay less annual motor tax than someone with a small family hatchback. So the bands were tweaked and expanded a little, with additional sub-bands being squeezed into Bands A and B. The result is this:

Band A0: 0g/km. €120 - this is the tax band reserved for zero emissions pure electric or hydrogen cars
Band A1: 1-80g/km. €170
Band A2: 81-100g/km. €180
Band A3: 101 to 110g/km: €190
Band A4: 111 to 120g/km: €200
Band B1: 121 to 130g/km: €270
Band B2: 131 to 140g/km: €280
Band C: 141 to 155g/km: €390
Band D: 156 to 170g/km: €570
Band E: 71 to 190g/km: €750
Band F: 191 to 225g/km: €1,200
Band G: 226g/km and up: €2,350

The system did what it was set out to - encourage people to buy lower-CO2-emissions vehicles, but it backfired somewhat in that everyone went out and bought a diesel, with what we now realise have been some pretty disastrous effects on air pollution. While the government is currently reluctant to meddle with the system, mindful of the destructive effect on residual values, the poor publicity for diesels isn't helping, and there will almost certainly be some changes in the coming years.

If you have a van or truck...

Commercial vehicles are taxed by weight, so up to 3,000kg gross vehicle weight (which includes pretty much all regular vans and pickups) you'll pay €333 a year to tax it. From 3,001 to 4,000kg, it's €420, from 4,001 to 12,000kg it's €500 and above 12,000kg it's €900.

There's a twist though. These are strictly commercial rates, and don't cover using a van or pickup for social, domestic or pleasure use. Which means that if you're using your Transit or Hilux to drop the kids off at school, technically you're in breach of the law and can be issued with penalty points, a €4,000 fine and a possible court summons. You can register and tax any commercial vehicle for private use, but the odd thing is that, instead of switching to the CO2-based system, you revert back to the old engine capacity one, which can penalise such vehicles as the Volkswagen Amarok pickup, which uses a larger engine.

Buses and Public Service Vehicles pay between €154 and €403 a year depending on how many seats they have, while those lucky enough to live and register their cars on one of the many islands off the Irish coast pay just €102 a year in motor tax, regardless of their vehicle.

There's also a bonus for those thinking of buying a Volkswagen California or Mercedes Marco Polo camper-van - these also cost a mere €102 a year to tax. Drive an off-road dump-truck, though? Ouch, that'll be €885 a year please. Classic car owners pay just €55 a year, but the car in question must be at least 30 years old. Classic bikers pay just €26.

Hope that all helps understand the Irish motor tax system, but if you have any specific questions we've not covered, feel free to drop us a question via the Ask Us Anything page.

Read our guide to VRT here