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European Court of Justice rules against Finland in vehicle transfer licence case

Red tags to stay for now


European Court of Justice rules against Finland in vehicle transfer licence case
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The European Court of Justice has ruled against Finland in a case involving the the requirement that residents of Finland who import vehicles from other European Union member states need to pay for a "transfer licence" to allow them to drive their new car before Finnish registration is complete.
      The transfer licence includes a sticker tag issued by customs authorities which is placed in the window of the car, or on top of the foreign licence plate immediately upon entry into Finland.
     
The court ruled that Finland is in violation of the principle of free movement of goods, by requiring the payment of a transfer licence fee for a vehicle that is legally registered in another member states.
      The decision does not mean that the tags will disappear overnight. The Ministry of Finance will examine what the effects of the ruling will be, and how the procedure might change.
     
"We are trying to think how this might be as easy as possible for the consumer, as it is now. One possibility is that the present procedure would be an option for those who want to take care of the whole matter at a single window. If not, the tax authorities need to be given notification, and then the driver can move on", says Finance Ministry official Merja Sandell.
      Sandell emphasised that the decision does not affect Finnish vehicle taxation, or the right to register cars. It is simply a matter of procedure at the port of entry. Transfer licences have allowed residents of Finland to drive a new car he or she has brought in from another EU country for three months without paying the car tax and registration.
      No transfer licences are required for foreign-registered cars driven by someone who is not a resident of Finland.
     
The current practice is expected to continue until the ministry learns when and how the present laws and regulations can be changed.
      "The ruling does not remove the obligation to make a report when the car is imported. That is the key issue."
      In the court, Finland defended the practice saying that it makes it easy for cars to be identified, and it helps keep information in the Vehicle Registry up to date.


Helsingin Sanomat


  16.3.2007 - TODAY
 European Court of Justice rules against Finland in vehicle transfer licence case

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