Company cars must be registered in the country where the company is located.
This applies regardless of whether you own the company or work for it, as long as the car was bought in the name of the company.
Driving your company car abroad
Less than 6 months
If your work involves travelling regularly between different EU countries, be aware that you may be stopped for a police check.
The police may ask for a copy of your contract of employment or evidence of the work you are carrying out in that particular EU country, especially if you are driving at night or during weekends.
Andrea works as a salesman for an Italian company. Part of his job is to promote the company's products in Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania. He regularly drives his Italian company car to these countries for work. The Romanian police often stop him to check that he is lawfully driving an Italian registered car in Romania.
That is why he always carries with him in the car his employment contract and authorisation from his company to drive the car for business purposes outside Italy.
More than 6 months
In some countries, you can apply for an exemption from the registration rule in order to drive a company car in that country for more than 6 months. Check in advance with the competent national authority if this is possible.
Marco works for a Finnish company. The company decides to send him to Portugal for a 1-year assignment. He will need to use his Finnish company car while in Portugal. In order to drive the car with Finnish plates in Portugal for more than 6 months, he has to apply with the Portuguese authorities for a special authorisation, known as the "Guia de Circulação".
Once he has this authorisation from the Portuguese authorities, he will be able to drive his Finnish-registered car in Portugal for the period of his assignment.
As a cross-border worker in the EU
If you are a cross-border worker, meaning that you work in one country but live in a bordering country, and return home at least once a week, you may drive your company car in the country where you live without having to register it there if you drive it:
- between your place of work and home OR
- mainly for work purposes
Jacob moved to the Netherlands a year ago but he continues to run his dental clinic in Belgium. During a standard vehicle check 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.
As a cross-border worker outside the EU
If the company is based in a country outside the EU, there is no flexibility regarding the use of the company car for private journeys.
You can only use your company car registered outside the EU to drive between your home and your place of work and to carry out any work-related activities in the EU.
Any activities that you have to carry out in the EU must be mentioned in your contract of employment.
In all other cases, the company may have to pay import duties on the car.
Diana lives in France but works in Switzerland for a Swiss company. One Sunday, while driving her car, she was stopped by the French police. The police told her that she could only use her Swiss-registered company car in France to go to or return from her work, or to carry out any work-related activities in France.
As Switzerland is not part of the EU, Diana needs to prove that she is using her company car for work purposes in France. Otherwise, her company may have to pay import taxes on the car.
Private use of your company car
If you want to use your company car for private as well as work purposes, this has to be clearly stated in your employment contract.
Be aware that a company car should be used mainly for work or professional purposes and only occasionally for private reasons.
Magda lives in the Czech Republic and works in Slovakia. She drives a Slovak-registered company car mainly in Slovakia and from her place of work to her home town.
She has agreed with her company that she can also drive the car occasionally for private purposes in the Czech Republic. She can do that as long as this arrangement is clearly provided for in her contract of employment. This should avoid her having any problems with the Czech police.
Lending your company car
When you use your company car temporarily in another EU country, you should not lend or rent this car to another person, e.g. your spouse or children.
In some countries there may be exceptions to this rule, as long as the use of the car by another person is mentioned in the contract of employment. Check in advance with the relevant national registration authority.
Check the conditions for driving your company car in the different EU countries.
- United Kingdomgben
* Information not yet provided by national authorities