HomeCar InsuranceCar insurance, NCT and tax discs to become a thing of past...

Car insurance, NCT and tax discs to become a thing of past in plans to digitise system

Operators in the insurance sector believe car documentation is likely to go paperless from the start of 2026, although no formal plans have been announced.

Officials at the Department of Transport said they are progressing proposals that would also bring an end to paper-based roadworthiness discs for commercial vehicles (CVRT). They expect to put a timeline on the plans later this year.

The current paper-based system is considered dated, but insurers say the successful rollout of a digitised system depends on gardaí being able to rely on the Irish Motor Insurance Database (IMID) to prevent evasion rates increasing.

Digitisation by 2026 would see the final tax discs being issued next year — consigning to history the task of removing them from their perforated certificates.

Paper discs verifying tax, insurance or NCT/CVRT have become an unnecessary imposition

New correspondence shows Car Rental Council of Ireland CEO Peter Boland wrote to officials at the Department of Transport in February to express support for the removal of paper discs from windscreens.

“Paper motor tax discs, along with paper insurance and NCT/CVRT discs impose significant administrative and cost burdens on car-rental companies operating in Ireland and have a significant impact on our customer service levels,” Mr Boland said.

“With the rollout of automatic number-plate recognition and the establishment of the Irish Motor Insurance Database — including the National Fleet Database to which our members contribute — paper discs verifying tax, insurance or NCT/CVRT have become an unnecessary imposition.”

Keith Walsh, assistant secretary general at the Department of Transport, told Mr Boland he is “very keen to digitise all three, and at the same time”, according to emails released under freedom of information. This would replicate systems across Europe. The UK removed paper-based tax discs 10 years ago.

Insurance Ireland, which represents a majority of companies in the sector, said it believes a paperless system will bring about greater efficiency, accessibility, security and sustainability.

The removal of paper discs means people will be unable to evade detection with fake certificates. However, Insurance Ireland chief executive Moyagh Murdock said a modernised system will need to be underpinned by sufficient technology and resources for An Garda Síochána.

“While the department would envisage going paperless as of January 1, 2026, consideration must be given to ensure that the IMID is fully implemented and that An Garda Síochána can be fully reliant on the IMID before removing the requirement for paper-based discs,” said Ms Murdock.

“The timelines of these two initiatives — digitisation of insurance discs and the implementation of the IMID — must be carefully considered.”

She said insurers are already at an advanced stage in providing insurance details electronically to gardaí and the Department of Transport.

Cost savings and environmental impact assessments have not been completed

The removal of discs would eliminate some costs for insurers. However, Insurance Ireland warned enforcement to prevent uninsured driving, and a potential “tendency to try to avoid detection”, would offset any financial gains.

“There would be understandable concerns that uninsured driving could rise,” Ms Murdock added. “Ireland already has an unacceptable level of non-compliance of uninsured driving which is out of kilter compared to other EU states and the UK.”

A spokesman for the Department of Transport said the project is at an early stage, adding that cost savings and environmental impact assessments have not been completed.

However, he did confirm that “the elimination of paper discs for motor tax alone is expected to generate significant savings in administration costs related to printing and postage”.

He added: “With the advance of automatic number-plate recognition technology and increasing data-sharing between relevant bodies, visual checks by gardaí are already being replaced by roadside, camera-based identification of non-compliant vehicles.”

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