Streets ahead with online motor tax

23 Apr 2007

March 2007 marks a very significant anniversary for the people behind for it is exactly three years since it became possible to renew motor tax using the internet.

March 2007 marks a very significant anniversary for the people behind for it is exactly three years since it became possible to renew motor tax using the internet.

The online motor tax (OMT) service covers a broad range of motor tax transactions. The tax renewal service is available in respect of vehicles associated with the most straightforward motor tax renewal procedures, primarily private cars, motor cycles, disabled driver vehicles and agricultural tractors, which represent over 85pc of the national fleet.

“The overall objective of the motor tax online service is that the facility to pay motor tax online should cover as wide a range of motor tax transactions as possible.

“Take-up of the renewal facility since it was extended nationwide in March 2004 has been excellent and the service has been received very enthusiastically by the motoring public. I am also delighted that particular arrangements have been made at some libraries to assist in the making of motor tax applications online,” says Noel Dempsey TD, Minister for the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, under whose aegis the service has been developed.

The success of the service can be judged by the fact that, by the end of 2006, more than one in three (34pc) vehicle owners who were eligible to do so were taxing their vehicles online. This compares favourably with the equivalent figure in 2004 (21pc) and 2005 (30pc). In the case of Dublin, the facility is used by 50pc of eligible owners. There is also a very big take-up in Kildare (46pc), Wicklow (37pc), Cork (36pc), Limerick City (31pc) and Galway (30pc).

The volume of business associated with online motor tax is substantial — over 1,150,000 online transactions were conducted in 2006 (an increase of 42pc on 2005), amounting to over €243m in tax revenue.

The most popular time of the day that online transactions are processed is between 10am and 3pm (approx 7-8pc of customers hit the site each hour during this period). There are quite a number who make the most of the round-the-clock nature of the website, with 4-5pc of customers using the site between midnight and 4am. The busiest time of the month is the last few days of the month of tax expiry and the first few days of the following month. There were 220 successful transactions on Christmas Day 2006.

The online service is available 22 hours each day — it closes between 4am and 6am to synchronise with the main National Vehicle Driver Computer System (NVDF) system. Any system upgrades are also carried out during these hours.

Based on the first two months of 2007, it is expected that the number of transactions processed online will increase again this year. Total transactions for those two months are almost 245,000, representing 41pc of eligible business.

At present, four departmental staff members work exclusively in supporting the OMT service. There are some additional staffers partly involved in other support areas such as bulk mailing of discs that issue on the next working day after the online transaction takes place. The staff complement in each motor tax office is a matter for each local authority which undertakes services on behalf of the department. Motor tax offices issue motor tax discs, driving licences, certificates of roadworthiness for commercial vehicles, issue duplicate documents and appoint garages and authorised weighbridges.

Encouraged by the very positive engagement by the motoring public with the online tax renewal service, the service was extended in November 2005 to include first taxing of new and imported vehicles, which also represents a significant portion of motor tax business. Again, this facility has been very well received with over 64,000 transactions conducted online in 2006, equating to almost €20m. This represented 19pc of all new and imported vehicle first-taxing transactions that were processed.

The site enjoys excellent customer satisfaction ratings. A recent customer survey found that 100pc of respondents were either very satisfied (82pc) or satisfied (18pc) — effectively a 100pc satisfaction rating. The survey also indicated that nearly a third (30pc) of OMT users are professionals in IT, accounting or engineering. The service is used by more men than women — 57pc versus 43pc. Some 68pc of users live in cities and towns while 86pc are aged between 18 and 54, with one in two in the 35-54 age bracket.

In terms of where respondents use the site, the split was almost 50:50 between office and home. customers were on the whole very frequent internet users (78pc browse daily, 96pc more than once a week) and they carried out significant financial transactions online.

So what future developments are in the pipeline for In 2006, the department placed a contract following an EU procurement exercise for the analysis, design and development of an online system to enable approved motor dealers notify changes of vehicle ownership in order to further speed up the notification process. The project will also enable authorised treatment facilities to notify the department of end-of-life vehicles and will provide for members of the public to check the current status of changes of vehicle ownership transactions and vehicle registration certificates. This project will complement the existing motor tax services. Work commenced in 2006 and the system is scheduled to go live on a pilot basis initially in late 2007 with launch nationally as soon as appropriate afterwards.

Applying for driving licences online is not currently in the pipeline, however. Commenting on this scenario, a Department of Environment spokesperson said: “Driving licence administration is a matter for the Department of Transport and the Road Safety Authority. There are no immediate plans to extend the online services to cover applications for driving licences — this area presents particular challenges including the requirement for each applicant to produce a recent photograph.”

However, even without driving licences, is a uniquely successful and popular online public service and is showing every sign of continuing on its successful road.

By Brian Skelly