Robert is switching his English car to be registered in Ireland and in order to be properly insured I should get an Irish driving licence. In Vancouver all of this (registering and insuring a car, getting a driver’s licence) is handled by the Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC) – one stop shopping and very efficient. I was unprepared for the levels of bureaucracy involved in accomplishing the same things in Ireland. For anyone thinking of moving here, gird your loins for an obstacle course.
Registering Robert’s car is almost done, and here are the steps we have had to follow:
- To the VRT (Vehicle Registration and Taxing) office in Skibbereen. We find we are ‘importing’ the car so must first go to the Customs Office in Bantry (only open Friday mornings, make an appointment) with a long list of documents.
- To Bantry with all documentation. Customs officer copied everything and said to wait until we got relevant certificate in the mail, then make an appointment with the VRT to register the car.
- To Insurance agent in Skibbereen to apply for Irish insurance. This is where we learned that Robert’s English licence is fine, but I must get an Irish one. Robert must procure proof of no claims status from English insurer.
- Telephone calls to England requesting no claims document. Will be emailed to us straight away.
- Customs certificate arrives. Appointment made with VRT office. List of required documents exactly the same as we have already supplied to Customs even though it’s the same government department (Revenue). Back to VRT and receive car registration number. Registration certificate will arrive in mail.
- Back to Insurance office. No claims proof has not arrived, but charming Insurance agent manages to weasel enough information out of English insurance agent on the phone. Now insured in Ireland!
- Off to Garage that prints ‘Licence Plates While You Wait.’ They also sell us the double-sided tape with which the plates are attached and instruct us how to do it. Main direction for pulling off the old ones, “Don’t be frightened.”
- On to the internet, armed with registration number, to ‘Motor Tax Online’ to pay road tax. Although the tax is collected by the ‘local authority’ or county council, the payment system is operated by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and it appears the tax can only be paid online or by travelling up to Cork (hour and a half). Tax discs to be attached to windshield (without which it is illegal to drive a car) will arrive in the mail.
- Once car registration certificate (see step 5 above) arrives in the mail, Robert can make appointment to have a mandatory NCT (National Car Test) to check the car for roadworthiness. This will take us back to the VRT office.
Whew! Got all that? That’s 5 different locations and 8 sessions: Customs, VRT X3, Insurance X2, License Place Printer, Tax Authority. Add to that the assembling of lots of paperwork (examples: original invoice for four year old car, proof of identity and residence, receipt for passage on the car ferry) and multiple phone calls to England…well, I think Robert deserves a medal for negotiating all that!
Interestingly, half of the processes described here are administered within government and involve two different departments as well as county councils. The other half are privatised – insurance, license plates and the NCT are all managed outside government, thereby creating a smaller bureaucracy within government, but a much larger one from a consumer viewpoint with multiple steps, documentation requirements and agencies. The saving grace for the hapless car owner is the cheerful, helpful and friendly Irish people working in each agency. With their sympathetic smiles, their humour and their efficiency in the teeth of labyrinthine processes, they will get you through the whole painful business.
My turn next. Must get that Irish driving licence. I have been driving in Canada for 38 years, problem-free, so this can’t be a big deal, right? After all, anyone with a European licence, even from countries that drive on the right (most of them) can just trade in their licence for an Irish one.
Can you predict, dear blog reader, given the tortuous route to registering a car, how straightforward this is going to be for me? A future post will reveal all. Meanwhile, I leave you with some pictures of driving conditions in West Cork.