Guidelines for Diplomatic Missions
Useful information for Embassies accredited to Ireland and International Organisations based in Ireland can be found here. These selected guidelines summarise the procedures and practices in operation in Ireland in relation to the administration of the privileges and immunities of the staff of diplomatic Missions.
While it is hoped that the guidelines will serve as a useful reference for Embassies, International Organisations and their staff, the guidelines are provided for information purposes only and are not intended to be either exhaustive or legally binding, nor do they commit the Irish Government in any way.
These guidelines will be updated and supplemented on an on-going basis and additional information will be provided as the need arises.
Further information and assistance is available from Protocol Division and all forms referenced in the guidelines are available from Protocol Division on request unless online links are provided or alternative sources mentioned.
Protocol Division, Department of Foreign Affairs
In accordance with Article 4 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, agrément must be sought for any person it is proposed to accredit as head of a Diplomatic Mission to Ireland. Agrément is granted by the Government before the person concerned officially arrives in Ireland.
The request for agrément by the sending State is conveyed by means of a Third Party Note (TPN)/Note Verbale to the Department of Foreign Affairs. It should be accompanied by a detailed biographical note of the person the sending State wishes to appoint.
A formal response to a request for agrément usually takes approximately six weeks. Protocol will notify the sending State by Third Party Note of the Government’s decision with regard to the proposed appointment.
Presentation of Credentials
Following the issue of the Third Party Note notifying the sending State of the Government’s approval of the appointment of the Ambassador-designate, the Embassy should contact Protocol to confirm the Ambassador-designate’s arrival date. Credentials ceremonies take place throughout the year and usually include three Ambassadors per ceremony, with priority given to resident Ambassadors.
Embassies should note the following:
- Letters of credence and recall should be addressed to:
Mr. Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland;
- The name of the State is Ireland. It is not possible to present letters which use the term “Republic of Ireland”.
Presentation of Working Copies of Letter of Credence
Within a few days of the arrival of the Ambassador-designate, an appointment is made by the Embassy for him/her to hand over the working copy of the letter of credence, together with a copy of the letter of recall of his/her predecessor (in the original language with English translation if required) to the Chief of Protocol.
Ambassadors-designate may perform limited official acts before the presentation of their credentials to the President. Once the working copies have been handed over, the Ambassador-designate is encouraged to call on officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs, including the Secretary General, the Head of the Lead Unit for their country as well as on the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps (the Apostolic Nuncio) and other Heads of Mission.
Ambassadors are requested not to host official functions (e.g. National Day receptions), call on Ministers or officials in other Government Departments or to engage in public diplomacy until credentials have been presented to the President.
Order of Precedence
In accordance with Article 13 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, precedence among Ambassadors is determined by the date and order in which they present their credentials to the President with the Apostolic Nuncio holding the position of Dean of the Diplomatic Corps.
Absences/Appointment of Chargé d’Affaires ad interim
As provided for in Article 19 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the absence or the return of the Head of Mission, and the appointment of a Chargé d’Affaires ad interim, should be notified to Protocol of the Department of Foreign Affairs by a Third Party Note. As per Article 19.1, in the case where a Chargé d’Affaires needs to be replaced by a subsequent Chargé d’Affaires, this notification should come from the Foreign Ministry rather than the Mission.
In addition, the Mission may wish to notify other diplomatic missions of such absences or appointments, in which case they are advised to send such messages directly rather than via the Department of Foreign Affairs.
As soon as the date of departure for a resident Ambassador is known, the Embassy should advise Protocol via Third Party Note (TPN) and include the date on which the Ambassador will complete his/her posting.
Embassies are asked to ensure that Department of Foreign Affairs ID cards for Ambassadors, their family members and private domestic employees are returned under cover of TPN and completed Notification of Departure form along with airport identity card if the Ambassador holds one.
Driving licences should be returned directly to the Diplomatic Licence Section, Road Safety Authority, Moyvalley Business Park, Primrose Hill, Ballina, Co. Mayo.
The Irish Government will consider a request for the appointment of an Honorary Consul in Ireland if it is satisfied that there is a need for the services provided by such officers.
A proposal to establish a consular post headed by an Honorary Consul should be submitted to Protocol under cover of Third Party Note (TPN). If the sending State does not have an Embassy accredited to Ireland, the request to establish a consular post should come from the Foreign Ministry of the sending State.
The person proposed for appointment as honorary consular officer should not himself/herself submit the application to the Department of Foreign Affairs. The request should contain a detailed curriculum vitae, details of the proposed class of post, the tasks to be undertaken as well as the seat and jurisdiction of the post.
The person proposed for appointment as Honorary Consul should be permanently resident in Ireland. The nomination of national or local authority office holders, public sector employees or politically active persons is not considered appropriate.
Nominees should be of good character and have the capacity to maintain a good working relationship with the authorities in their consular district and with the authorities of the sending State. The processing of a new Honorary Consul application includes a security check on the applicant by An Garda Síochána (Irish Police).
The consent for the vetting of the proposed candidate will be obtained in advance from the nominee by the Department of Foreign Affairs. Vetting may take up to six months to complete.
It is not possible or appropriate for the candidate to directly enquire as to the progress of their application with the Department of Foreign Affairs or with ministers; all such queries must be routed to Protocol by the requesting Embassy.
Once approval in principal has been granted by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, their Consular Commission will be requested via Third Party note. This Commission should contain the name, rank and consular district of the officer to be appointed. If not in English, it should be accompanied by an Embassy translation.
Following receipt of the Consular Commission an Exequatur is prepared and signed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and forwarded to the Embassy.
The Honorary Consul-designate can only take up his/her duties on the date on which the Exequatur is received and shall not publicise their appointment, their offices or their activities until that has taken place.
Change to remit
A Consular Commission has to be issued in respect of each appointment. Accordingly, if an Honorary Consul is appointed to another post/region within Ireland, a fresh Consular Commission must be submitted for that appointment.
Similarly, a new Consular Commission is required if the Head of Post is promoted and the rank of the consular post is raised simultaneously. Consequently, any proposed amendment to the seat of the consular post, its classification or the consular district should be forwarded to Protocol.
Approved amendments will require the exchange of both amended Consular Commissions and Exequaturs.
If it is the practice in the appointing State that the term of the Honorary Consul is time-limited, it is the responsibility of the relevant Embassy to ensure that an updated Consular Commission is submitted to Protocol along with a request to continue the term of office ahead of the conclusion of the original term.
Conclusion of assignment
The functions of the Honorary Consul may come to an end upon notification by the sending State to the receiving State that the functions of the officer have been terminated. If the sending State wishes to replace him/her, a new proposal should be submitted to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Honorary Consuls’ names and contact details appear in the Diplomatic List maintained by the Department of Foreign Affairs. The list is published on the Department of Foreign Affairs website and is updated regularly. Any changes in status, address, contact details or other relevant data should be notified immediately to Protocol.
Diplomatic Missions should submit to Protocol as early as possible, but a minimum of at least four weeks ahead of the proposed arrival, the name of the officer whom it is proposed to appoint as a Defence Attaché in order to obtain approval from the relevant Irish authorities. The request should be made under cover of a Third Party Note (TPN) that includes the name and title of the proposed new appointee, together with a detailed curriculum vitae as well as the name of the officer being replaced (if applicable).
These documents should be e-mailed to email@example.com . Protocol will reply via Third Party Note if approval has been granted.
Once appointed an accredited Defence Attaché has permission to wear his or her uniform at official functions in Ireland. It is suggested that following his/her appointment, the Attaché should seek a call on the Defence Forces Chief of Staff or his/her representative via the Defence Attaché Liaison Officer (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) .
Non-resident visa-required Defence Attachés are reminded to apply in good time to the relevant Irish Embassy for a visa prior to travel to Ireland. They will need to have received the Third Party Note from Protocol approving their appointment and to have ensured that they are included in an updated Third Party Note to the Department requesting their inclusion in the Department’s Diplomatic List prior to applying for the visa.
All correspondence and contact between Defence Attachés and the Defence Forces should be routed via the Defence Attaché Liaison Office (email: email@example.com).
Guidelines relating to the Employment of Private Domestic Employees (or ‘private servant’ as per Article 1(h) of the VCDR) by accredited members of the Mission were issued by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in September 2014. A copy of the Guidelines document and of the associated Annex 1 form are available on the Department’s website, on the Foreign Embassies page.
Article 1(h) defines a private servant as “a person who is in the domestic service of a member of the mission and who is not an employee of the sending State”. Domestic staff employed directly by the mission are “members of the service staff” in accordance with Article 1(g) of the Convention.
Prospective employees must be over 21 years of age and must not be related to the employer or his/her spouse. Only diplomats are eligible to employ a private domestic employee; Administrative and Technical Staff are not.
The employer must confirm in writing that they will comply with all relevant Irish employment law. Advice from an employment law expert should be sought should the employer have any queries in relation to their obligations under Irish employment law.
The onus is on the diplomat, as employer, to ensure full compliance with Irish employment law at all times. Any allegation of a breach of employment law in respect of the employment of a Private Domestic Employee will be taken very seriously by the Department.
The Written Undertaking of Terms of Employment (Annex 1) must be completed by the employer and agreed and signed by the employee. This includes written confirmation by the employer that they have no objection to meeting with an Inspector from the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to discuss the employment should the need arise. That they have no objection to the employee meeting with an Inspector from the WRC should the need arise and confirmation that they will provide employment records, including terms and conditions of employment, records of payment of wages, starting times, hours worked each week and leave granted to the employee for up to three years.
Information on employment rights is available on the website of Workplace Relations including a downloadable publication entitled “Guide to Employment Rights” which is available in 15 languages.
The application for a private domestic employee should in all cases be made by Third Party Note from the relevant Foreign Ministry to the relevant Irish Embassy, containing the following information:
- Full details of the employee, including name, address and date of birth;
- Confirmation that health and accident insurance for the employee has been arranged;
- Confirmation that the employee’s passport and visa will be in the sole possession of the employee;
- Confirmation that the employer will be responsible for making provision for sufficient funds to enable the employee to return to their country of permanent residence after completing their duties and/or after their employment has expired; and
- Confirmation that the agreed undertaking has been made available to the employee in a language that s/he understands.
After the application has been submitted and approved provisionally by the Department, the relevant Irish Embassy will invite the applicant to the Embassy for interview, The private domestic employee may not be accompanied into the interview by their employer or a family member of the employer; if interpretation is required, the relevant Irish Embassy should be advised of same so that arrangements can be made.
Some points to be aware of when completing a Written Undertaking of Terms of Employment form (Annex 1) are as follows:
- Section 4: The actual address of the residence where the Private Domestic Employee will be employed should be stated here i.e. not the address of the Embassy;
- Section 6: The current (2022) minimum hourly rate is €10.50 per hour;
- Section 7: The maximum number of hours is 48 per week;
- Section 8: The hourly overtime rate must be equal to or more than the current minimum hourly rate;
- Section 11(a): The number of days per year allowed for annual leave should be stated (usually Private Domestic Employees would be allowed four weeks’ leave per year);
- Section 11(b): The number of days per year for paid sick leave should be stated here; and
- Section 12: Agreed rest periods for each working day should be stated here.
Value-Added Tax (VAT) Concessions
The exemption from VAT (an indirect tax) is not specifically provided for under the Vienna Convention. Ireland provides exemption on the basis of the availability of satisfactory reciprocal arrangements for the Head of the relevant Irish diplomatic Mission, diplomatic agents and/or members of the Administrative and Technical Staff in the sending State.
The legislative basis is set out under Statutory Instrument 334 of December 1996.
Relief will only be granted where the claimant is not a national of or permanently resident in Ireland and where the Minister for Foreign Affairs is satisfied that the claimant has respected the laws and regulations in operation in Ireland.
Please note all requests should be reasonable in quantity and approval of applications is at the discretion of Protocol.
Up to date information on relevant VAT rates is available on the Revenue Commissioners website.
Eligibility of Goods and Services for Exemption/Refund
Purchases, for which VAT concessions are applied, must be reasonable in quantity and clearly intended to cover the needs of the Mission, diplomatic staff and their families. VAT relief will apply to goods/services intended for the running of the official premises or household of the applicant or for use in the performance of official duties.
As per Statutory Instrument 334/96, VAT relief will apply to the general categories of “household goods (i.e. non-perishable goods related to the running of an Embassy or diplomatic/A&T agent’s private residence and used at the Embassy or residence”), “excisable goods”, and “business goods necessary for the performance of official duties”.
A list detailing goods and services eligible for exemption/refund is available from Protocol. Any questions in response to a specific good/service which may not be listed or in regard to applicable categories may be addressed to Protocol for clarification.
Making a Claim for Refund/Exemption
Applications submitted to the Department should be dated and a reference number (internal for the Embassy’s own record) for each application clearly marked on the form.
There are four VAT refund/exemption forms and these are available on request from Protocol:
(a) DIP 1A: Prior Authorisation (white double sided form);
(b) DIP 1B: Refund (yellow triplicate form);
(c) DIP 1C: Release of Goods from Bonded Warehouse (pink triplicate form);
(d) VAT & Excise Duty Exemption Certificate
(a) DIP 1A – Prior Authorisation
Description: A prior authorisation form will allow a company to supply a specific good/service VAT-free. Relief from VAT at the point of sale by prior authorisation is available for goods/services costing €317 or more (including VAT). Goods/Services under this figure may be reclaimed afterwards on a DIP 1B form. The DIP 1A application is also used to obtain VAT-free utility bills i.e. Gas, Electricity.
How to apply: Applicants should submit two DIP 1A forms per application ensuring each form is endorsed with an original stamp and signature by the Head of Mission (HoM). The application should be accompanied by an original proforma invoice clearly showing the VAT to be exempted.
This form is also to be used by an Embassy or HoM if they would like to apply for permanent relief on utility bills. The Embassy or HoM must indicate on the application what the utility is, where it is for (Chancery or Residence) and relevant address. A copy of the bill should be included with the application form and one application per account number is required (multiple accounts will not be accepted on a single application form).
Process: Applications for advance exemption should be submitted to Protocol Division, Department of Foreign Affairs for processing as follows:
- If an application is for the exemption of a utility invoice (e.g. electricity, telecommunication etc.) the application will then be forwarded by Protocol to the Revenue Commissioners who will deal directly with the supplier. This process can take up to eight weeks to be completed with the supplier.
- If an application is for other services or goods, the application will be forwarded by Protocol to the Revenue Commissioners for clearance and will be returned to the Embassy via Protocol Division. The DIP 1A takes approximately 5-10 working days to be returned from Revenue.
- Note: The authorisation is valid for three months from the date of issue only.
(b) DIP 1B – Relief by Repayment
Description: The DIP 1B form allows Embassies/staff to obtain a refund of VAT on specific goods and services after the point of sale.
How to apply: Applicants should submit a DIP 1B triplicate form (yellow), with each copy stamped and signed by the Head of Mission. (Please note that as the form Dip 1B is in triplicate while the HOM signature on the first page will copy through, each copy of the form must be stamped individually.)
Each application must be accompanied by a list of goods and services for which the applicant is requesting a refund. If claiming for more than one good or service, the appropriate worksheet MUST be completed. Revenue will return claims if the worksheet is not completed and attached to the DIP 1B form. Details should be provided of the good/service, the supplier, the total cost, the VAT amount and VAT rate.
Applications in relation to goods eligible for both VAT and Excise refund (e.g. alcohol, tobacco or petrol) should be made on separate forms. Additional information should also be supplied on the itemised list in the case of petrol, specifying the litre quantities and for alcohol the bottle size and alcohol percentage.
Applications should be accompanied by the original receipts and invoices which clearly show the amount of VAT paid on the goods/services. Note: this documentation will not be returned to the applicant.
Please note the DIP 1B forms are NOT AVAILABLE in electronic format.
Process: Applications for reimbursement, with an item list and original documentation, should be submitted to Protocol, Department of Foreign Affairs for processing. Protocol will then forward the applications to the Revenue Commissioners for approval and payment. Cheques are made payable to the specified applicant and will be forwarded directly from the Revenue Commissions to the Embassy or applicant. Embassies and officers can elect to be paid electronically if they so wish. If they choose this option, please forward a completed template form with the first claim. This option is only available if the account is in the EU. It can take up to six weeks for Revenue to process claims.
Please note that once Revenue have reimbursed the VAT on applications, they will return the relevant receipts to Protocol. Protocol will then forward them to the relevant applicant by post.
(c) DIP 1C – Release of goods from a Bonded Warehouse
Description: The DIP 1C form facilitates Embassies / qualified staff in purchasing goods liable to VAT and Excise Duty, such as Alcohol and Tobacco, from Bonded Warehouses.
How to apply: Applicants should submit DIP 1C triplicate form (pink), with each copy stamped and signed by the HoM. (Please note that as the form Dip 1C is in triplicate and the HoM signature on the first page will copy through, each copy of the form must be stamped individually.)
Each application must be accompanied by a list of goods for which the applicant is requesting exemption. The details can be entered on the box provided on the form or on a separate A4 sheet, citing the application reference.
Details should include the description, the quantity per packet/case, and the quantity being ordered (e.g. beer – 4/6 x 440ml – two cases). If submitting a list of goods/services on an A4 sheet separate to the DIP 1C, three copies of the list are required.
Note: requests should be reasonable in quantity and approval of applications is at the discretion of Protocol.
Please note the DIP 1C forms are NOT AVAILABLE in electronic format.
Process: DIP 1C forms and any attached lists should be submitted to Protocol, Department of Foreign Affairs for processing. Once processed they will be forwarded directly to the relevant supplier. The Embassy may then liaise with the company to arrange collection or delivery.
(d) VAT & Excise Duty Exemption Certificate
Description: A Mission or qualifying officers may purchase and import goods customs and excise-free from another country. The goods may also be imported VAT free if they comply with the conditions applicable to VAT exemption in Ireland and appear on the list of goods and services eligible for a VAT refund, and providing reciprocal arrangements are in place.
How to apply: Applicants should submit a TPN accompanied by a pro-forma invoice from the supplier. If the invoice is not in English, it should be translated by the supplier and not a local translation from the Embassy. The application can be either scanned or posted to Protocol.
Process: A submitted form will be assessed by Protocol in line with the Vienna Convention and Ireland’s VAT Statutory Instrument 334/96. Once cleared by Protocol, the application is sent to the Revenue Commissioners. It takes approximately 3-5 working days for Revenue to issue the Certificate. The Certificate is sent to Protocol and Protocol will contact the applicant when it is ready for collection. The Certificate is then passed to the supplier by the applicant and the supplier then exempts the VAT.
Release from Customs
Article 36 of the Vienna Convention provides for the exemption of customs duty on the import into Ireland of articles, purchased for the official use of the mission or for the personal use of a diplomatic agent. Mission personnel are entitled to import their personal belongings with exemption from taxes.
The officer must, however, have arrived in the country and have been officially notified to the Department under Article 10 before any requests can be processed.
In order to have the goods released, please submit an Embassy note to Protocol giving details of the goods and the officer who is applying. The note should be accompanied with a copy of the Bill of Lading and Container Number if applying for clearance from sea or the Airway Bill if goods are arriving by air.
Protocol will issue a letter of clearance to the applicant or mission. The original must be presented to customs officials. Custom officials will also require an original TPN from the Embassy on headed note paper.
In 2010 a carbon tax was introduced in Ireland. The carbon tax applies to kerosene, marked gas oil, liquid petroleum gas, fuel oil, natural gas and solid fuels.
Carbon Tax is eligible for a tax refund. Claims for repayment of duty paid in the State can be made on the Dip 1B form (please see above). Please make separate applications when claiming back carbon tax; applications should be accompanied by original invoices showing proof of payment.
Public Service Obligation Levy (PSO Levy)
The PSO levy has been in place since 2001 and the associated levy funds support mechanisms for two very important objectives: firstly, it supports the development of renewable electricity, which is important for security of supply, for reducing carbon emissions from electricity generation and is a necessary policy support to enable Ireland to reach legally binding renewable electricity targets; secondly, it supports electricity generation which was constructed for security of supply purposes, including peat generation.
The PSO levy is a charge on all electricity customers without exception, so therefore, it is not eligible for a tax refund.
Diplomatic Missions and eligible officers accredited to Ireland are exempt from payment of tax on new vehicles imported and purchases of new vehicles on the basis of/in accordance with Statutory Instrument (S.I.) 59 of 1993 and S.I. 334 of 1996, subject to a satisfactory level of reciprocal relief for corresponding personnel representing Ireland in the sending State.
Exemption is granted under S.I. 59/1993 and S.I. 334/1996 from the following:
(a) Value Added Tax (VAT)
(b) Vehicles Registration Tax (VRT)
(c) Common Customs Tariff (CCT)
A Diplomatic Mission or eligible officers may purchase/import vehicles with exemption, provided a satisfactory level of reciprocity has been met.
- An unaccompanied diplomat is entitled to purchase/import one personal vehicle with exemption. One replacement vehicle may be considered only where the initial vehicle purchased with exemption is subsequently sold, by approval, in line with our regulations (including required timeframe of two years for ownership). Note: This replacement vehicle cannot be sold tax-free in Ireland at any stage regardless of how long the vehicle has been held.
- An accompanied diplomat (once spouse notified to the Department) is entitled to purchase/import two vehicles with exemption. One replacement vehicle may be considered only where one of the initial vehicles purchased with exemption is subsequently sold, by approval, in line with our regulations (including required timeframe of two years for ownership). Note: This replacement vehicle cannot be sold tax-free in Ireland at any stage.
- An Administrative & Technical member of staff on posting is entitled to purchase one vehicle only, if accompanied or not. The purchase/import must take place within the first six months of taking up the posting.
- A Diplomatic Mission is entitled to purchase one vehicle. Applications for an additional vehicle will be considered on a case by case basis by the Department once a business case for the additional vehicle has been submitted and accepted.
Purchase of a new motor vehicle in Ireland with exemption
How to apply: To purchase a vehicle in Ireland with exemption from taxes a Diplomatic Mission/ eligible officer must submit a completed DIP 2 application form prior to purchasing the vehicle. A privileged person must be officially notified to Protocol Division as having arrived and taken up duty before an application can be considered. The DIP 2 form should be accompanied by a TPN from the Embassy requesting purchase with exemption and an invoice from the vendor/relevant garage.
Process: Where purchase with exemption has been agreed, the DIP 2 form will be forwarded to the relevant Revenue office for processing. Revenue will issue a letter directly to the applicant after 3-5 working days. Please consider what address the letter should be forwarded to. In the case of a new vehicle, this letter should be passed to the car dealer/vendor who will not charge the VAT on the vehicle and will arrange to have the vehicle registered without payment of VRT. If the vehicle is imported, the applicant should make an appointment with the relevant NCT office to have the vehicle registered without payment of tax.
When the vehicle has been registered, a Vehicle Registration Certificate will automatically be generated and will be sent directly to the Diplomatic Mission/eligible officer within a month of registration by the Vehicle Registration Office. Motor tax discs cannot be obtained until receipt of this registration certificate.
Note: Once the letter of exemption has been received, the Diplomatic Mission/eligible officer should take steps to ensure that the vehicle is registered immediately. This can have an impact on the two year time frame in place for the disposal of the vehicle.
Purchase of a second-hand or used motor vehicle with exemption
The purchase of second-hand or used motor vehicles by officers or missions do not come through this Department as the VRT has already been paid. In certain cases, VAT is due on second-hand or used vehicles if purchased from a vehicle vendor.
If this is the case and the VAT can be displayed on an invoice, please submit the paperwork as described above.
Purchasing a motor vehicle from a privileged individual
Privileged persons may purchase a vehicle with exemption from another privileged person as long as s/he has the entitlement to purchase and the seller has the entitlement to sell (e.g. reciprocity, previous applications, replacement vehicle etc.).
How to apply:The purchaser (privileged person) should submit a DIP 2 application form accompanied by a Third Party Note requesting permission for a tax-free purchase and indicating the privileged person from whom the officer proposes purchasing the vehicle. At the same time the privileged person selling the vehicle must complete and forward a DIP 2A form along with a TPN requesting the sale of the vehicle tax-free and indicating the name and contact details of the privileged person to whom they propose selling the vehicle.
The Vehicle Registration Certificate does not need to be submitted with the applications, as the diplomatic stipulation remains on the Cert.
Process: The applications will be dealt with concurrently. Once approved, a letter of exemption will be issued to the new owners (please consider what address this should be sent to) and the DIP2A will be returned to Protocol Division for the onward transmission to the seller of the vehicle. These transactions take 3-5 working days. Once the paperwork has been processed, the Change of Ownership section can then be completed on the Vehicle Registration Certificate and sent to the Central Vehicle Office.
Purchasing a motor cycle under privilege
The process for purchasing a motor cycle under privilege is the same as for a car. The purchase will count as one of the officer’s entitlements to purchase a vehicle with exemption.
Importing vehicles into Ireland with exemption
If a vehicle is purchased abroad, it may be imported into Ireland without payment of registration tax. If the VAT owed is non-Irish, please check with the car vendor in the country of purchase whether an exemption from the Irish authorities will cover the VAT exemption, as this is the only way the VAT can be recouped.
VAT in another country cannot be refunded at a later stage. Imported vehicles can be driven in Ireland for one month only and then the vehicle is required to be registered with Irish plates.
As of 1st January 2020, the NTFSO (The National TransFrontier Shipment Office), Dublin City Council has advised the Department that any vehicles being imported from abroad on a shipment container will be required to produce the necessary testing certificate/proof of roadworthiness of the vehicle.
Copies of these documents should be presented to the shipping company to be included with the Bill of Lading for the shipment container.
How to apply: To import a vehicle into Ireland, with exemption from taxes, an eligible officer/Diplomatic Mission must submit a completed DIP 2 application form in advance of the arrival of the vehicle in Ireland. A privileged person must be officially notified to Protocol as having arrived and taken up duty before an application can be considered. The DIP 2 form should be accompanied by a TPN from the Diplomatic Mission requesting import with exemption, accompanied by any copies of official documentation for the vehicle (i.e. log book).
Process: The application submitted will be considered in Protocol based on current regulations and reciprocity. If importation with exemption is approved, it will be forwarded to the relevant Revenue office for processing. Revenue will issue a letter to the applicant directly after 3-5 working days. Please consider what address the letter should be forwarded to. The applicant should then make an appointment with the local NCT office to have the vehicle registered.
When the vehicle has been registered, a Vehicle Registration Certificate will automatically be generated and will be sent directly to the Diplomatic Mission/ eligible officer within a month of registration by the Vehicle Registration Office. Motor tax discs cannot be obtained until receipt of this registration certificate.
Note: Once the letter of exemption has been received, the Diplomatic Mission/eligible officer should take steps to ensure that the vehicle is registered immediately. This can have an impact on the two-year time frame in place for the disposal of the vehicle.
On presentation of the letter of exemption (either by the car vendor or by the officer themselves) a vehicle will be issued an Irish Registration Number. Irish legislation does not currently provide for a system of ‘CD’ plates.
Disposal of motor vehicles purchased under diplomatic privilege
The Vehicle Registration Certificate of a vehicle purchased with exemption will indicate that the vehicle cannot be sold without the permission of the Revenue Commissioners (please refer to section B on the Vehicle Registration Certificate to ascertain the date of registration of vehicle). Provided a satisfactory level of reciprocity has been met, the following are the entitlements for sale of a vehicle purchased with exemption by a Diplomatic Mission or eligible member of staff on posting:
Personal Vehicles: A Diplomat or Administrative & Technical member of staff may sell a vehicle tax-free on the open market once the vehicle has been in their possession a minimum of two years since registration. Note: Replacement vehicles cannot be sold tax-free in Ireland at any stage regardless of how long the vehicle has been held.
Official Vehicles: AMission may sell a vehicle tax-free on the open market once the vehicle has been in its possession for three years since registration.
Sale of a vehicle purchased under exemption
How to apply: To apply to sell a vehicle in Ireland which was purchased with exemption from taxes an eligible officer/Diplomatic Mission must submit a completed DIP 2A application form. The DIP 2A form should be accompanied by a TPN from the Diplomatic Mission requesting sale with exemption and the original Vehicle Registration Certificate.
Process: The application will be considered by Protocol based on current regulations and reciprocity. Once approved, the paperwork is sent to the relevant Revenue Office for processing. In 3-5 working days, the DIP 2A is sent back to Protocol and the applicant will be informed.
The Vehicle Registration Certificate (VRC) is forwarded to a separate Revenue Office to have the diplomatic stipulation removed (please refer to the “Notes” on the Vehicle Registration Certificate). The VRC is forwarded to the Central Vehicle Office and is re-issued to the applicant directly.
This process can take up to two weeks to be completed. Both documents (the DIP 2A and the new VRC) then may be passed to the new owner. Please ensure copies are made for both parties to retain.
Payment of Taxes
In the case of an application for sale with taxes, the Vehicle Registration Office will assess the amount of taxes liable to be paid. The assessment will take into account the value of the vehicle at the time of sale, its initial registration etc.
In order for Revenue to calculate the taxes due (VAT and VRT), please submit in writing the request, along with the officer’s name and registration number of the vehicle in question. Please also submit the current mileage of the vehicle.
When taxes have been assessed and advised by the VRO, payment should be made using two separate cheques/drafts (one for VAT and one for VRT made payable to the “Revenue Commissioners”. The cheques should be accompanied by a DIP 2A form and the original Vehicle Registration Certificate.
Selling a motor vehicle to a privileged individual
Privileged persons may sell a vehicle without taxes to another privileged person as long as s/he has the entitlement to sell and the other person the entitlement to purchase. Please note that the purchase of this vehicle will count as one of the exempt vehicles. When the two-year time frame (between both owners) has been reached, the vehicle may be sold tax free on the open market.
How to apply: The seller should submit a DIP 2A application form accompanied by a Third Party Note requesting permission for a tax-free sale and indicating the name and contact details of the privileged person to whom the officer proposes selling the vehicle.
At the same time the privileged person purchasing the vehicle must a DIP 2 form along with a TPN requesting the purchase of the vehicle tax-free and indicating the name and contact details of the privileged person from whom they propose buying the vehicle.
There is no need to submit the Vehicle Registration Certificate, as the diplomatic stipulation will remain on the vehicle.
Process: The applications will be dealt with concurrently. When the paperwork has been cleared by Revenue, the Change of Ownership section of the VRC should be completed and sent to the Central Vehicle Office.
Early Sale of a vehicle purchased under exemption
The sale of a vehicle tax-free outside the regulations listed above will only be considered in very exceptional circumstances (e.g. transfer home/abroad for medical reasons, death or exceptional circumstances). If an application is accepted under exceptional circumstances only one vehicle may be sold tax-free (i.e. if a family has two vehicles the other will be liable for taxes).
Export of motor vehicles purchased under privilege
An eligible officer may export his/her vehicle abroad on departure from the country without payment of taxes, provided a satisfactory level of reciprocity is met:
How to apply: A Diplomatic Mission/eligible officer must complete a DIP 2A application form. A Third Party Note of request must also accompany the application for export. There is no need to submit the Vehicle Registration Certificate.
Process: Protocol will process the application and send to Revenue for clearance. In 3-5 working days, the DIP 2A form is sent back to Protocol and the applicant will be informed.
This document should be held as proof of the discharge of taxes in Ireland as it may be required in the officer’s home country or in a third country in order to register the vehicle. Based on reciprocity, once the vehicle has been registered in Ireland and has a licence plate, it is free to be exported at any time.
Scrapping a motor vehicle purchased under privilege
If a satisfactory level of reciprocity is met, the Mission or an individual can apply to have a vehicle scrapped or disposed of. Owners of vehicles which are deemed ‘end of life’ must have the vehicles disposed of at a licenced, authorised treatment facility (ATF).
They will supply a certificate of destruction, which must be submitted with the DIP 2A form. Please also supply a TPN with the application.
Leasing of Vehicles
Missions and privileged officers are exempted from VAT and VRT on the leasing of a vehicle.
Role of Protocol Division on high-level visits and hospitality
Protocol Division – Protocol I (its visits, conference and official hospitality section) - looks after the arrangements for State and Official visits to Ireland by Heads of State, Heads of Government and Foreign Ministers.
Arrangements for all other visiting dignitaries are made by the host Department or host Division in the Department of Foreign Affairs, while arrangements for working, private or transit visits should be made by the Mission, with assistance/advice as appropriate from Protocol Division.
State and Official Visits
Protocol Division has overall responsibility for the preparation and running of State and Official visits to Ireland. It draws up the programme and makes the necessary arrangements for transport, accommodation and security in close consultation with the relevant Mission and the relevant Irish stakeholders.
State Visits to Ireland typically last two or three days, with some engagements outside of Dublin. State visits do not take place during the weekend and no official engagements can be arranged for Saturdays or Sundays. Official Visits can be shorter and do not necessarily include ceremonial elements.
It is important to establish contact with Protocol Division well in advance of any proposed visit so all involved agencies have enough time to make the appropriate arrangements.
Name of the State
The name of the State is ‘Ireland’ as per Article 4 of the Constitution. Third Party Notes (TPNs) which refer to ‘the Republic of Ireland’ shall be returned to the relevant Mission for re-submission using the correct name.
Irish National Anthem
The Irish National Anthem “Amhrán na bhFiann” or “The Soldier’s Song” was written in 1907 by Peadar Kearney. It became widely known from 1916 onwards. “Amhrán na bhFiann” was formally adopted as the National Anthem in 1926.
The lyrics are available on the website of the Department of the Taoiseach.
Irish National Flag
The flag was first introduced by Thomas F Meagher in 1848.
The Green represents the older Gaelic tradition; the Orange represents the supporters of William of Orange and the White in the centre signifies a lasting truce between the ‘Orange’ and the ‘Green’.
The proportion of the flag is 2:1. Each colour is 1/3 of the width.
The Pantone Matching System (pms) is used for categorising the colours of the flag:
Green = pms 347
Orange = pms 151
Further information on the National Flag is contained in the “The National Flag” booklet, available on the Department of the Taoiseach website.
The booklet contains details about the history of the National Flag, guidelines on its use, design, display and occasions on which it is flown.
Foreign National Anthems
Missions are advised to retain copies of their respective national anthems in digital / sheet music formats to have available if requested by Protocol for the relevant Irish authorities, e.g. for Credential Ceremonies.
Useful information on the Irish State is available on www.gov.ie. This website provides a wide range of links to government services and information about Government Departments and Agencies.
Useful documents for diplomatic missions accredited to Ireland: