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Motor vehicles and trailers: vehicle registration documents


The Directive harmonises the form and content of the registration certificate.

2) ACT

Council Directive 1999/37/EC of 29 April 1999 on the registration documents for vehicles [Official Journal L 138 of 1.6.1999].

Amended by Commission Directive 2003/127/EC of 23 December 2003 [Official Journal L 10 of 16.1.2004].


The Directive applies to the documents issued by the Member States at the time of registration of motor vehicles. It has three aims:

  • to make it easier to use vehicles registered in one Member State on the roads of the other Member States by making it simpler for the relevant national authorities to check registration certificates;
  • to enable the implementation of Directive 91/439/EEC on driving licences to be verified by means of roadside checks;
  • to improve the functioning of the internal market by making it easier to understand documents, and check rightful ownership, where a vehicle has been registered in another Member State.

The registration certificate issued by the Member States must conform to a model described in the Annex to the proposal for a Directive, so as to make it easier, where a vehicle is registered in another Member State, to check rightful ownership, particularly where the applicant is not the holder of the registration certificate. The first part of the registration certificate is for driving on the road, while the second is reserved for any new registration.

Member States may issue a registration certificate consisting solely of Part I of the model where vehicles are used on their territory, if, in the event of a roadside check, they have at their disposal a system of access to the register of vehicles.

A registration certificate issued by a Member State must be recognised by the other Member States.

Where a motor vehicle or a trailer previously registered in one Member State is reregistered in another Member State, the competent authorities in that Member State must return the registration certificate to the authorities in the Member State in which it was issued, if so requested.

A committee of representatives of the Member States, with a representative of the Commission in the chair, assists the Commission by delivering opinions.

ActDate of entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member States
Directive 1999/37/EC01.06.199901.06.2004
Directive 2003/127/EC05.02.200415.01.2005



Regulation (EC) No 1160/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 2005 amending the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement of 14 June 1985 on the gradual abolition of checks at common borders, as regards access to the Schengen Information System by the services in the Member States responsible for issuing registration certificates for vehicles [Official Journal L191 of 22.07.2005].

Regulation No 1160/2005 authorises the services responsible for issuing registration certificates for vehicles to consult the Schengen Information System (SIS) before registering a vehicle. As the SIS contains, in particular, information about stolen, hijacked or lost motor vehicles, this should reinforce the fight against vehicle theft.

Last updated: 07.08.2006
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