Buying a new car
Your consumer rights
When you buy a new car from a garage or car dealer, you are entering into a consumer contract. You have the same consumer rights as when you buy any other products from a business.
You can expect the car to meet certain conditions of quality and durability and match what was set out in the contract. You are entitled to certain remedies if something goes wrong after you buy. Remedies could be a repair, replacement, refund or price reduction. Read more about your consumer rights and problems with faulty goods.
Consumer rights only apply to deals between a consumer (a person who buys something for personal use or consumption) and a trader (a person who sells goods or services as part of their trade, business or profession).
Using car finance
There are different car finance options available if you need to get a loan to pay for your new car.
Many banks, building societies and credit unions offer car loans. You borrow the money and own the car immediately. You pay back the money in monthly instalments and usually pay fees and interest to the lender.
Hire purchase (HP) agreements
HP is a type of credit that is often offered by garages and car dealers. Under HP, you rent the car, and pay the cost in regular instalments to your lender (who is usually a bank, a building society or finance companies). You can use the car but cannot sell it without the lender’s permission. The lender owns the car until you make the final payment. Read more about hire purchase.
Personal Contract Plans (PCPs)
A PCP is similar to a HP agreement. You pay regular instalments and do not own the car until you have made the final payment. The main difference is that you pay lower monthly instalments but owe more money at the end of the PCP agreement. The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has more information about PCPs.
Shop around for the best deal
You should always shop around, compare prices and make sure you know what you are agreeing to before signing a car finance contract. If a garage or car dealer is offering to arrange finance, they are acting as an agent (or a credit intermediary) for a finance company and will earn commission for arranging the loan. Agents must be authorised by the CCPC. The CCPC keeps a register of credit intermediaries.
Electric vehicle grants
You may be able to get a grant from the Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland (SEAI) if you buy a battery-powered electric vehicle (BEV) that meets specific standards.
Since 1 July 2023, you can get a grant of up to €3,500 for battery-powered electric vehicles (BEV). (Previously, the grant was €5,000).
The grant for BEVs only applies to cars with a full price of between €14,000 and €60,000.
Your car dealer will apply for the grant for you, and then deduct the grant amount from the total price of your car.
Since 1 January 2022, the grant of €2,500 for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) has been removed.
Read more about electric vehicles and grants for electric vehicles on the SEAI website. You can also read about other financial supports for owners of electric vehicles, such as toll reductions and Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) relief.
Home charging grants
You can also apply for the Home Charger Grant Scheme, for up to €300 towards the installation costs of a home charger.
If you are replacing your old car, trading it in can help to bring down the cost of a new one. You should shop around and see what different garages or car dealerships will offer for your old car as a trade-in.
Find out what your car is worth before taking it to a dealer. You can get independent expert advice on this from a qualified mechanic or by doing your own research online on motorcheck.ie. Note that a garage or car dealer is likely to pay less for it than if you sell it yourself. The CCPC has more tips about trade-ins.
Registration and Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT)
When you buy a car in Ireland, or import it, you must meet a number of legal requirements.
For example, all new vehicles, except those brought in temporarily by visitors, are subject to Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) and must be registered with Revenue. VRT must be paid when you first register your car.
Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT)
If you buy the car from a dealer, they will register it and pay the VRT to Revenue. This means the total you pay for the vehicle should include the cost of VRT. Value Added Tax (VAT) is also charged on the sale of most products.
After the dealer registers the car and pays the VRT, they will get:
- A receipt for the VRT paid, showing the car’s registration number
- An RF100 form
When buying a car, make sure the dealer gives you the correct VRT receipt and RF100 form. You will need this when applying to your local motor tax office.
Registering a car yourself (without a dealer)
In all other cases (for example, where you buy a car abroad and bring it into Ireland), you are responsible for registering the vehicle at a National Car Testing Service Centre (NCTS). You can book an appointment online or over-the-phone. The following timeframes apply:
- Booking an appointment for vehicle testing: this must be done within 7 days of the vehicle entering Ireland
- Registering the vehicle: this must be done within 30 days of it arriving into Ireland
Find out more about importing a vehicle to Ireland.
Tax relief and exemptions
There are different reductions, reliefs and exemptions from VRT.
You may also claim tax relief under the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme.
If you buy your car from a dealer, they must register it and give you registration plates when you collect your car. You must display the plates on your car within 3 days from the registration date.
The dealer must also have the new registration plates fitted before you take it away.
If you register the car yourself at an NCT centre and your VRT payment has been accepted, Revenue will give you the registration number assigned to the vehicle. You can buy Irish number plates at the NCT centre on the day of the inspection.
You must register the vehicle before you can pay motor tax. It is an offence to drive an unregistered vehicle in Ireland.
Vehicle registration certificate
The vehicle registration certificate for your car is issued by the Department of Transport. This will be posted out to you after you have applied to your local motor tax office to pay motor tax on your vehicle.
By law, you must pay motor tax for your vehicle. You can pay motor tax for a new vehicle:
The amount of tax depends on the type of car you have bought. For new cars, motor tax is calculated on the vehicle’s CO2 emissions. When taxing a new or imported car, you will need to provide the RF100 form (from the motor dealer).
Find out more about motor tax.
By law, you must have motor insurance before you can drive in a public place and you must display the insurance disc on the windscreen. It is a serious offence to drive without insurance. If you do, you could be fined, have penalty points put on your driving licence, or be disqualified from driving.
Find out more about motor insurance.
A colour-coded labelling system for new cars shows their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. These labels are displayed on, or near, any new car for sale.
The first section of the label shows the emission band for the vehicle. The second section of the label tells you:
- How much fuel the vehicle will use over 18,000km
- The annual motor tax
- The rate of VRT
Other sections give information such as the make, engine capacity, and fuel type of the car.
If things go wrong
If you have a problem with a new car, contact the seller (the garage or car dealership) so that they can fix the problem. If you can't resolve the problem or you are not satisfied with the response, you can contact:
- The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) for advice about consumer issues, such as faulty cars, regulation of credit intermediaries and unfair commercial practices.
- The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) who are the representative body for the motor industry in Ireland. SIMI members include dealers, repairers, wholesalers, retailers and vehicle testers. All SIMI members must follow a code of ethics. It may be able to help you, through its consumer complaints mediation service.
Read more about how to make a complaint.
The CCPC website has more information about buying cars.