Vehicle Registration Transfers

The European Commission is moving to make it easier for citizens to transfer vehicle registration from one member state to another. The goal is to do away with long waiting times, the double payment of registration tax and the need for multiple road-worthiness tests.

This is part of a push to strengthen the Single Market. Although there is freedom of movement for citizens and goods within the EU, a recent survey found that the administrative burden of re-registering vehicles in another member state remains a major issue for European citizens, workers and car-rental companies.

Overview

This legislative proposal aims to harmonise and simplify the procedures for the re-registration of motor vehicles registered in another member state. The Commission estimates that reducing the administrative burden would save at least €1.5 million a year.

In practice, the measures are intended to:
• Clarify in which member state a motor vehicle must be registered when it is transferred between one member state to another
• Reduce the time of re-registering 
• Reduce administrative burden by limiting the number of documents required to re-register motor vehicles
• Facilitate data exchange between national registration authorities
The proposed regulation applies to the registration of motor vehicles and trailers registered in another member state, but does not apply to the registration of motor vehicles registered in a non-EU Member State.

Registration Procedure

When a holder of a registration certificate moves to another member state, he or she would have six months to register the vehicle in the new country. During this six month period, he or she would be entitled to unrestricted use of the vehicle.

The request to register the vehicle in the new member state would be submitted to the corresponding vehicle registration authority, and would include the registration certificate in accordance with Directive 1999/37/EC, or any other evidence of prior registration in another member state.

The vehicle registration authority would then be obliged to transfer the registration data (as set out in Annex I) from the vehicle registration authority of the country where the vehicle was originally registered.

Vehicle registration authorities would be entitled to carry out physical checks of the vehicle in the following cases:
• If the information provided by the applicant cannot be found in the vehicle register of the member state where the vehicle is supposed to be registered
• If the information provided by the applicant is different from the information stored in the vehicle register of the country where the vehicle is registered
• If the vehicle registration authorities believe that technical provisions approving the vehicle are not equivalent to their own
• If roadworthiness tests are required in case of any change of ownership, or for seriously damaged vehicles
Refusal to register

Under the proposal, vehicle registration authorities would only be entitled to refuse the registration of a vehicle registered in another member state if:
• The applicant does not submit a registration certificate in accordance with Directive 1999/37/EC or any other evidence of prior registration in another member state
• Levies or fees applicable are not paid
• Physical checks carried out by the vehicle registration authorities are not successfully passed
• Information gathered through the exchange data system indicates that: (i) the vehicle is seriously damaged, stolen or destructed, (ii) the vehicle registration documents are stolen, unless the holder of the registration certificate can clearly prove ownership, or (iii) the date of the next mandatory roadworthiness certificate has passed

Temporary and professional registration

The proposal also includes two measures aimed at facilitating intra-EU trade of second-hand vehicles: temporary registrations and professional registration schemes.

As second-hand vehicles do not usually do have a registration certificate, temporary registration certificates would enable citizens to drive such vehicles to another member state with a view to its final registration there. Professional registration certificates would allow the test or transport of vehicles by manufacturers, assemblers, distributors and dealers.

a) Temporary Registration

Under the proposed regulation, when purchasing a vehicle without a registration certificate in another country, any person could request the vehicle registration authority to issue a temporary registration certificate in view of transferring the vehicle to another member state. This temporary registration certificate would be valid for a period of 30 days.

Upon request for a temporary registration certificate, the vehicle registration authority would gather the registration data (as set out in Annex I) from the vehicle registration authority of the member state where the vehicle was originally registered.

Vehicle registration authorities would only be entitled to refuse to issue temporary registration certificates if:
• Levies or fees applicable are not paid
• Information gathered through the exchange data system indicates: (i) the vehicle is seriously damaged, stolen or destructed, (ii) the vehicle registration documents are stolen, unless the holder of the registration certificate can clearly prove ownership, or (iii) date of the next mandatory roadworthiness certificate has passed

b) Professional vehicle registration

Under the proposed Regulation, vehicle registration authorities would be entitled to issue professional vehicle registration certificates to businesses established on their territory, which distribute vehicles or provide repair, maintenance or testing services for vehicles and have a good reputation and hold professional qualifications required.

Vehicle registration authorities would ensure that, for each professional vehicle registration, registration data (as set out in Annex I) is recorded in their register.

Member states would not be entitled to restrict the use of a vehicle covered by a professional vehicle registration certificate issued in another country.

Nevertheless, vehicles carrying professional registration could not be used for commercial transport of persons or goods, or if the vehicle constitutes a direct and immediate risk or road safety.

Exchange of data

Annex I of the proposal contains the registration data subject to storage in official vehicle registers. Annex II includes provisions with regard to the use of certain software applications for the exchange of information between the authorities.

National vehicle registration authorities would have to provide other member state vehicle registration authorities with access to the data stored according to Annex I.

Only vehicle registration authorities would have access to the data stored.

Processing of personal data would be carried out in accordance with Directive 95/46/EC. Authorities have also the obligation to communicate to receiving authorities when incorrect information has been sent, receiving authorities have also the obligation to delete or correct such information.

Member State and Commission obligations

Member states would have the obligation to inform the Commission of the names and contact details of the vehicle registration authorities responsible for managing the official registers of vehicles on their territory.

Vehicle registration authorities would have to ensure that information on the registration of vehicles, along with contact details, are easily accessible to the public.

The Commission will publish a list of vehicle registration authorities on its websites and keep it up to date. The Commission would also have to submit a report on the evaluation of the proposed regulation to the European Parliament and Council four years after the entry into force of the proposed regulation.

Delegated and implementing acts

The Commission would be entitled to adopt implementing acts to: (i) provide the format and the model of the professional vehicle registration certificate, and (ii) lay down the common procedures and specifications for the software application.

The Commission would be empowered to adopt delegated acts concerning: (i) amendments to Annexes I and II to this proposed Regulation, (ii) the conditions to be met by undertakings in order to be eligible for a professional vehicle registration certificate, and (iii) the duration of professional vehicle registration certificates.

Next steps and application

The proposal will now be sent to the European Parliament and the Council for examination following the ordinary legislative procedure. The proposed Regulation would be applied one year after its entry into force.