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Updated : 13/07/2016

vehicles

Car registration and taxes

Temporary stays

If you keep your normal residence in your member state but you stay in another EU country for less than 6 months, you don't have to register your car or pay any registration taxes there - it will remain registered in your country of residence. You may however be asked to pay other taxes related to the use of your car in that country (circulation taxes).

If you're staying in another EU country for less than 6 months and haven't registered your car there, you may not legally lend or rent your car to a resident of that country, who may only drive your car if you are in the car with him/her.

You may, however, lend your car to visiting friends or family - provided they are not resident in your new country.

If you're planning to stay in another country for more than 6 months, you should normally change your residence to this country and you must register your car there without delay.

Moving abroad

If you move to another EU country (you intend to stay there over 6 months) and take your car with you, you will need to register it and pay any relevant fees and taxes in the new country.

You must register your car as soon as possible and in any case not later than 6 months from your date of arrival. You should also check what documents and formalities will be required as evidence to register your car.

In some countries you may be eligible for a tax exemption on your vehicle registration when you move from another EU country, if you meet the relevant conditions and deadlines. Before moving to your new country check the national rules applicable there.

Sample story

Save money by knowing the rules in advance!

Cristina from Spain found a job in Portugal and moved there. Unaware of the 6‑month deadline, she went to register her car after 8 months in Portugal.

She was then informed that, had she registered the car earlier, she wouldn't have had to pay any registration taxes. Also, in Portugal the 6‑month deadline is counted from the moment you leave your home country, not from the moment you arrive.

 

Exceptions to compulsory registration after 6 months

Students

If you are staying in another country and your only reason for staying there is to study, you can drive your car without having to register it or pay taxes there - as long as you are enrolled in an educational establishment in that country. But if as a student you start working during your residence there, you must register your car in this country.

Before leaving your home country you should check the applicable rules in the country where you intend to study if you need to fulfil any administrative formalities (e.g. in some countries you must get a certificate of enrolment from university/school etc. which you need to have with you when you drive) or meet special conditions in order to avoid problems during police checks.

Special rules apply in Denmark where as an EU student you must register your car unless you live there less than 365 days over a period of 2 years. In this case you can apply for permission to Danish authorities to drive you car which is registered in another EU country.

Sample story

Mathieu is French and living in Belgium where he is doing a 2‑year post-graduate course. Mathieu's car was damaged, so he went to the police to get a report for his insurer. When the police discovered that Mathieu had been living in Belgium for over a year without registering his car there, they told him that his situation was irregular and would be fined.

Mathieu could prove that he was registered at Antwerp University and therefore, as a student from another EU country, he didn't have to pay car or road taxes in Belgium.

Cross-border workers

You are a cross-border worker (employed or self-employed) if you work on one side of a national border but live on the other, and return home at least once a week.

If you use your own car to commute regularly from the country where you live to the country where you work, you have to register it and pay the relevant taxes in the country where you live - but not in the country where you work.

If you drive a company car (registered in the country where you work), you may use it for private purposes in the country where you live without having to register it there. You would then be driving with foreign plates in the country where you live. This may be a cause for concern for the local police, who have to check that individuals under their jurisdiction have paid national vehicle registration taxes.

If you have problems, you can contact our assistance services.

Sample story

Kiril lives in Bulgaria and works in Greece for a Greek company. He drives a company car - registered in Greece - which he also uses privately in Bulgaria.

He was once stopped by the Bulgarian police and fined for not having registered the car in Bulgaria. Kiril explained that cross-border workers are entitled to use their company cars for private purposes in their home country, but the police were unaware of that right and issued the fine anyway. Kiril challenged the decision and the fine was eventually cancelled.

Self-employed cross-border workers

If you are self-employed, living in country A and working in country B, you may use your company car in country A without having to register it there only if:

  • the car was bought in your company's name;
  • you use it in country A mainly for your work and only occasionally for private purposes;
  • your company is legally based in another country.

Please note that a company car must be bought in your company's name. If you drive a car bought in your own name, you must register it in the country where you live.

If you have problems, you can always contact our assistance services.

Sample story

Jacob moved to the Netherlands a year ago but he continues to run his dental clinic in Belgium. During a standard vehicle control on the road the Dutch police found out that he had been living in the Netherlands. The police fined him, and ordered him to register his car in the Netherlands.

Jacob appealed the police decision and explained that his car was specifically purchased for his business activity (which he proved by providing invoices), and is registered in Belgium in the name of his company, and furthermore he predominately uses his car for professional purposes in the Netherlands.

When the Dutch authorities verified the documents the fine was withdrawn.

 

For more information on car registration and relevant taxes as well as for links to national authorities' websites see:

The European Commission is not responsible for the content of external websites.

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