Fabian Demicoli

Re-registering cars abroad made easier

 Commission wants to cut red tape for motorists, but concerns about the risk of fraud remain. – The European Commission wants to make it easier to transfer vehicle registration from one member state to another, to overcome one of the most frequent complaints of citizens who move to another EU country.

Long waiting times, double payment of registration tax, and multiple road-worthiness tests and technical checks were among the problems identified in a 2010 survey of citizens' experiences. Car rental companies have also faced difficulties moving vehicles from one country to another.

Under the proposal, to be put forward by the Commission on Wednesday (4 April), member states would be able to use a simpler procedure to obtain authorisation for searching the registration information of other member states. Member states would also be obliged to give automatic recognition to a registration made by an employer on behalf of an employee. This is designed to benefit people who live in one member state but work in another. A special registration will be introduced for people who spend part of the year in another EU country.

The proposal falls short of a pan-EU registration certificate, which a majority of citizens identified as their preferred solution. Most businesses respondents, however, favoured only improved communication between national authorities.

Crime concerns

Some concerns have been expressed about threats to safety or risks of fraud if member states are obliged to recognise foreign registrations.

"Many vehicles are currently taken into different member states in order to facilitate crimes," the Association of British Insurers wrote in its contribution to a recent consultation. The association suggests that many people currently avoid re-registering their vehicles because of the cumbersome process involved, and argues that higher rates of re-registration would help insurers to know which vehicles are on the road and where.

Vehicle ownership

This is the second recent initiative to share knowledge of vehicle ownership across borders. In November, member states agreed to set up an electronic data-exchange network that aims to fine drivers who commit traffic violations in another country. Foreign drivers make up 5% of traffic in member states but account for 15% of traffic offences.

Member states could already fine foreign drivers who committed offences, but they have often chosen not to, because of the difficulty in identifying the owner of a foreign vehicle. The database is due to be set up by November 2013.

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