Car registration in another EU country
If you are moving to another EU country with your car, specific rules apply to car registration depending on whether or not you want to move there temporarily or permanently, on the length of your stay and on the country you are moving to.
Most of the rules that apply to cars, apply also to trailers.
Moving on a permanent basis
If you move permanently to another EU country and take your car with you, you should register your car and pay car-related taxes in your new country.
There are no common EU rules on vehicle registration and related taxes. Some countries have tax-exemption rules for vehicle registration when moving with the car from one country to another permanently.
To benefit from a tax exemption, you must check the applicable deadlines and conditions in the country you wish to move to.
Check the exact rules and deadlines with the national authorities:
Know the rules to avoid fines
Cristina from Spain found a job in Bordeaux and moved there permanently. She registered herself in the municipal register as living in Bordeaux. After a couple of months, she decided to bring her Spanish registered car to France but kept driving with her Spanish registered car. 8 months after her move she was stopped by the traffic police during a routine check. As she was driving with a Spanish registration plate, she was given a large fine because she needed to re-register her car within 1 month after establishing her main residence to France. Given that she had registered as having her main residence in Bordeaux, she is presumed to have her normal residence in France and, according to national rules she must register her car in France and pay vehicle registration taxes there.
Moving on a temporary basis (not changing normal residence)
If you move temporarily to another EU country without changing your normal residence you do not have to register your car or pay any registration taxes there. You can keep your car registered in your country of normal residence.
Your normal residence is the place where you usually live, work or have family (for more than 185 days in a calendar year).
If you do not work, the normal residence is considered the place where you have personal ties which show close links between you and the place where you are living.
If you work in a place but your personal ties are in another EU country, you are usually considered having your normal residence in the EU country of your personal ties, provided that you return there regularly.
If you are stopped by the police in the country where you're temporary staying, you will need to demonstrate that you are not living there permanently. This can sometimes be difficult. When driving, it is a good habit to have with you your car registration certificate, the certificate of ownership and a proof of your normal residence (generally an ID card or document showing that you are registered as a resident in another EU country).
Know the rules to avoid fines
Massimo, an Italian national, found a job in Romania and decided to move permanently there. In accordance with Italian and Romanian rules, he de-registered his residence from Italy, registered his residence in Romania and was listed in the Italian registry of Italians living abroad. He also registered his car in Romania. After several months of living in Romania, Massimo drove back to Italy with his Romanian registered car. As he jumped a red light, the police stopped him and asked him all the papers. Massimo gave his Italian ID card –which still hadn't been updated with the new address. As he could not demonstrate to the police that he was now a permanent resident in Romania, the police imposed a heavy fine.
If you are temporarily driving around in your new EU country, you should not lend or rent your car (still registered in another EU country) to a resident of that EU country. This is because the person could become subject to a fine. You may, however, lend your car to visiting friends or family members as long as they do not have their residence in that EU country.
Penalty points and fines
You may be fined:
- if you have to register your car but you fail to do so on time
- if you don't pay the relevant taxes
- if you drive with a number plate from another EU country without a proof of normal residence in another EU country and a valid roadworthiness test.
You can check the exact rules that apply to car registration in the country you are moving to on the websites of the national authorities:
Specific rules for students and cross-border workers
Students that reside in another Member State for the sole purpose of pursuing their studies and cross-border workers don't usually have to pay car registration and circulation taxes.
Check the exact rules on car taxes in another EU country that apply to students and cross-border workers.
If you are a student and you move to another EU country with the sole of pursuing your studies, you can drive your car registered in your home country without having to register it or pay taxes in your new country. As a student, you must be enrolled in an educational establishment in that country and be able to provide a valid enrolment certificate. If you start working during your studies, however, you will have to register your car in that country.
Before leaving your home country, you should check the applicable rules in the country where you are going to study. You may need to fulfil some administrative formalities or meet certain conditions in order to avoid problems during police checks.
Denmark, Estonia, Germany, and Sweden do not exempt students from registering their cars and from paying the corresponding taxes.
Mathieu from France moved to 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, however, that he was registered at Antwerp University and that as a student from another EU country, he didn't have to pay car or road taxes in Belgium.
As a cross-border worker (work in one country and live in another one), you may need to drive a car that is registered in only one of the two countries.
If you drive a company car registered in the country where you work, you may also use it in the country where you live without having to register it there. Check the different conditions that apply to the use of company cars in the EU as the rules may vary considerably.
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.
For more information on car registration and relevant taxes as well as for links to national authorities' websites see:
The information on this page does not apply to UK nationals residing in the EU and EU nationals residing in the UK. National rules are applicable in these cases.