A lot of people who move from the U.K. to Ireland like to bring their car along for the ride. (People moving in the opposite direction probably also do the same.) Whether it's a quick spin down from Northern Ireland, or a ferry across from Swansea or Liverpool, it is physically easy to bring a car with you. However, there are costs involved. Sometimes significant ones. So if you're driving a beat up old banger, you might want to think twice, or at least figure out what awaits. You might be better off buying a car here after you make your move to Ireland. Here are some of the costs involved.

Costs involved when importing a car to Ireland from the UK

The ferry fare
If you have the cross the Irish sea then you have a number of options to do so with your car. Considering you'll be saving on airfare, and you can stuff your car with as much luggage as you can fit, the ferry fare will seem quite reasonable. Certain low costs airlines (remaining nameless) charge something like 25 UK Pounds for a 20kg bag! Cha-ching!

Here are a couple of example ferry fares I found for December 2014:

Importing a car to Ireland from the UK
Gotta love the ferry! (credit: flickr/RebusIE)

Liverpool to Dublin with P&O Ferries - £79
This was the rate quoted online for 1 passenger in a car less than 1.8m in height. According to the P&O website, "the best value fares are available midweek in the middle of the day" on Irish routes.

Pembroke to Rosslare with Irish Ferries - £113
This was the rate quoted online for 1 passenger in a car less than 1.9m in height.

Vehicle Registration Tax
The tax man is going to want their pound of flesh if he hears there is a new car in the country. This can be quite a hefty amount depending on the car you drive. The VRT is based on the Open Market Selling Price (OMSP) of your car. The OMSP depends on a number of factors including, the market value, engine size, year, model and road-worthiness condition of the vehicle. Check here for current rates.

There's a whole section on revenue.ie about when VAT is and is not required on imported vehicles. If you bring a car from the UK there is a chance you will have to pay VAT in Ireland when you arrive. (Irish people tend to believe that this is in place to prevent them from buying cars at a lower cost in the U.K. and bringing them back to Ireland) I would recommend reading the section New Means of Transport, which describes a concept in European VAT law, whereby owners are liable to pay VAT on an automobile, even if they've already paid it in another EU country.
VAT is payable at the 'standard rate', currently 23% in 2014

Car Insurance
To drive a car in Ireland, you must have insurance. You can choose from multiple levels of cover, but at a minimum you must have '3rd party' insurance. CitizensInformation.ie has a good resource for types of car insurance, and the various nuances that come along with it. You might have a little bit of hassle getting insurance if you have a foreign drivers licence. I wrote a little about my experience with that here.

Motor Tax
Another handout from you to the government comes in the form of Motor Tax. To legally drive a vehicle in public in Ireland, you must display a current motor tax disc. You will receive said disc after paying this tax.

National Car Test (NCT)
When you buy a used car that is 4 years old (or older) it must pass the Irish National Car Test (NCT) before it is allowed out on the public road network. Upon completion of the test, you will be issued with a NCT certificate, which must be visible on your car (along with your insurance and tax discs). The result of the test is good for 2 years (1 year for cars older than ten years).

New registration plates
When your car is registered in Ireland, you are obliged to display Irish registration plates on it. You can get those from the NCT centre for a fee. For a whopping €1,000, you can even reserve your own plate number.

As mentioned above, bringing your car with you when you move to Ireland, may or may not be a good idea, depending on the costs you'll have to pay. The VAT might be the worst one to cope with, especially if you've already paid it in the U.K. I'd love to hear from anyone who has moved over to Ireland from the U.K. with their car. Was it a pretty smooth process?