Parliamentary Question for the Minister of Finance (Michael Noonan TD)
For WRITTEN ANSWER 15/04/2014
To ask the Minister for Finance the position regarding the VRT inspection regime which is currently operating at 25 national car test centres; if he will consider extending the facility so that it can be provided at all NCT centres; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that Section 131, Finance Act 1992 provides that the Commissioners may appoint a competent person to carry out certain functions relating to the registration of vehicles in the State. With effect from 1 September 2010, Applus Car Testing Service Limited was appointed as the competent person to carry out these VRT-related functions through their network of National Car Test Service Centres (NCTS).
The NCTS carry out VRT pre-registration examinations at 26 centres around the State. While opening times in these centres vary and are based on the levels of demand, there is a flexibility that allows the centres to open for additional hours or days to meet the level of increased demand. In the years since the NCTS centres were assigned the VRT functions, a number of centres have increased their VRT capacity and a number of supplementary centres have been added to the list of centres dealing with VRT (Donegal town, Carrick-on-Shannon and Ballinasloe). Of these, 3 provide 7-day coverage, 1 provides 6-day coverage, 18 provide 5-day coverage and 4 provide 2-day coverage. As of 11 April 2014, the average lead time for appointments at NCTS Centres is 6.92 days (though it should be noted there can be little or no waiting time where bookings are made directly at the NCTS Centres and a place is available through cancellation).
In the early months of the operation of the new system Revenue and the NCTS faced some challenges in relation to the delays in getting appointments. In recognition that there was a unique requirement for authorised motor dealers, in March 2011 Revenue provided electronic facilities for the registration of used vehicles that have been subjected to a pre-registration examination. The pre-registration examination is restricted to motor dealers and allows a motor dealer to have vehicles pre-inspected, entered onto the Revenue computer system and then registered on-line as sales are made. An appointment for pre-inspection can be made in person at an NCTS Centre, through the centralised booking service using a national local rate number, through the Applus web-based booking system or by fax or post. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that approximately 50% of all used vehicles registered by motor dealers in 2013 used this system and the lead time for bookings is less than 5 days. The Revenue Commissioners are actively encouraging use of this system to ensure that those businesses involved in the motor trade do not suffer delays when it comes to registering vehicles.
The deputy may also be aware that there has been a surge in vehicle registrations since the beginning of the year that is reflected in both new and used car sales. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that they are acutely aware that this demand puts pressure on motor dealers and that they are actively working with NCTS management to ensure that this demand is met. The NCTS is providing additional capacity by extending opening hours or providing additional days in those centres where there are delays and Revenue is confident that the coverage and measures that are in place will ensure the continuing provision of an efficient and effective service. At the moment, Revenue is satisfied that there is no requirement to extend the VRT facility to all NCT centres but is monitoring the situation on an on-going basis.