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Importing a car from the UK to Ireland

Shortly after my Pajero was stolen, I started the hunt for a new car. After scouring carzone, going on Honest John, doing test drives, and searching donedeal, I found that car that I wanted – a Daihatsu Copen. The Copen is a small, two seat, sports car. Small is, actually, an understatement – the car is tiny! The fact that it comes in a 660cc and 1.3L model testifies to the tinyness.

I found a few on DoneDeal, one was even based in Dublin. To get a head start, I googled as much as possible about the Copen. I came across CopenWorld.com, and it’s fantastic Buyers Guide. Armed with this knowledge, I went for a look, at the sellers house in Rahney. The car had fairly bad rust damage, paint bubbling, and a poor service history. The seller, in fact, didn’t know the service intervals, nor the last time it was serviced – for a car with a turbo, this is a very bad sign as infrequent oil changes will ruin the turbo… the part alone costs £1000! The seller also wanted silly money for the car. I gave him my offer, which was a fair price for an 04 car in such a condition, and was told it was an insult. I gladly left. He removed the ad, a few weeks later and I assumed he sold the car… I have a DoneDeal alert set up, and the car has been relisted (some 6 months later) at a far more affordable price – i.e. half the initial price, and slightly higher than the price I offered him.

I saw another, this time on Adverts.ie. The turbo was just replaced, and the seller sent me on the receipt. Alarm bells were rung when I called her, and she said that the turbo blew by “going 150kph down the motorway”. The seller had forgotten to mention that there had been an insurance claim against the car, in her name, when I asked her. When confronted with the information (thanks motorcheck.ie!), she blamed her lack of English. She then refused to answer any of my phonecalls and emails. I think someone actually bought it, as I’ve not seen it on Adverts again.

This left me with very little options – these were the only two working Copens in Ireland – so I started going on eBay UK. I found a few, mainly from dealers, but the price was very high. Now most of these cars commanded a high price, as they had full service history and always at a main Daihatsu dealer. Along with being immaculate in condition, and from a dealer, I can understand their high price. Nevertheless, I kept looking, and found one from a private seller – Ash.

It was a 2005, black, 660cc model with 53k miles. I sent him a few messages, and then placed a bid. My big was fairly low, to be honest, and I expected to be well overbid. A few days later, I checked the status of the bid, and I was still the highest bidder. I checked again, a few days later, and with 12 hours to do I was still the highest bidder.

Ok, I thought, on eBay the bids come in in the last hour – nothing to worry about. 2 hours remaining… 1 hour remaining… 30 minutes… 15 minutes… 5 minutes… 30 seconds… 10…5…4…3…2…1. Woohoo! I own a 2005 Daihatsu Copen. Now I had explicitly stated in my bid that I would pay the deposit without issue, and the remainder on satisfactory inspection by a mechanic.

I called Malcom from National Vehicle Inspections, and had him visit Ash. The report I got back was incredibly detailed, and Malcom went over EVERYTHING. He noted the rust damage, a substantial hole in the carpet, every single stain, dent, scratch and damage from rust. He even noted that the A/C didn’t work, a massive hole and botch weld job in the exhaust, and so many other things, both big and small. Malcom also done an extensive car check – far more detailed than the one I had done.

I was happy with the report, and paid Ash. At the same time, I started looking at physically getting the car. There are really only two options – either have the car shipped over, or go and collect it yourself. I priced up flying over to Yorkshire, and driving back on the ferry – sweet Jesus that was expensive. National Vehicle Distributors were the cheapest by far, and the delivery docket they give you is recognized by the VRT people as entry to the state. However I will never recommend them. I won’t say, on this blog, why, but my service from them was less than ideal – with dates constantly missed by them, being the least of my worries.

Anyway, the car arrived, and I started working on the documentation for the VRT people. The day before it was picked up, I got the ball rolling for VRT. Revenue have a nice VRT calculator here, which gives you an idea of the cost for VRT. I got molested on the VRT, as the Copen has 151g of CO2. Ash had given me the logbook, minus the exporting part of course, and I got the rest of my documents ready. You’ll need to make a booking at your local NCT place – in my case, Northpoint – within a few weeks of the car arriving in the state. You must have your passport / drivers licence, a recent utility bill or bank statement (the address on this decides what county your registration is), a payslip or a recent document from revenue with your pay slip (a printout of a payslip will suffice), an invoice (in this case, the ebay listing with the price shown), and the UK log book.

At the NCT place, the agent will inspect the car to make sure it’s the correct one – things like VIN, colour, make and model, optional extras, verify milage, etc. In my case, I didn’t pay on the day, as the agent couldn’t find a suitable car in the system to match my make and model… something I found odd, as there were no extras. Anyway, she gave me a letter saying that the car had been VRT inspected, and that I was awaiting a decision from Revenue – in the event I was stopped by the guards, as I was still on UK plates after the allowed time.

I found out the cost a few days later, and was told to pay in any NCT place – I was in Galway, so I went in there and paid by credit card (there’s a surcharge, and they don’t take cash or a cheque!). I got my reg number, however the NCT place couldn’t do up square licence plates, so I went to Calbro in Galway instead. Silly me also tried to pay my motor tax on the same day – you can’t, the car isn’t on the system yet! The motor tax lady also gave me a letter for the guards, just in case! I went back two days later, and the motor tax was paid… You can claim back the motor tax for the first three months, by the way, as the motor tax period starts at the beginning of the month regardless of what day you register. The road tax is really cheap, by the way, as the engine is sub 1L.

You’ll need to pay your motor tax BEFORE you can get an NCT – so that’s another thing you have to do. It’s rather annoying that you can’t get an NCT the same day as paying the VRT – at least that would give me a good idea of what needed fixing! Anyway, I made a test date for the NCT and she flew through, second time around.

All in all, buying the car in the UK, paying the transport costs and the VRT, as well as a full service and a few extra bits done, still worked out cheaper than buying a car here in Ireland, even if there is rust… And boy was there rust!