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EU rules on vehicle registration and inspections

Car drivers, especially when confronted with cross-border issues, recurrently turn to the European Parliament asking for help and information about the EU rules regarding periodic vehicle registration procedures or inspections.
EU rules on vehicle registration and inspections

© Dmitry Vereshchagin / Fotolia

Before a vehicle is allowed to be put on the market, it has to fulfil all the relevant type or individual approval requirements guaranteeing an optimal level of safety and environmental standards. Every Member State has the obligation to register for the first time any vehicle that received the European type-approval on the basis of the “Certificate of Conformity” issued by the vehicle manufacturer. This registration is the official authorisation for use on public roads and enforces the different introduction dates of different vehicles’ requirements.

During a vehicle’s lifetime it may be subject to re-registration, due to a change of ownership, or a transfer to another Member State for permanent use. Provisions on a vehicle registration procedure should be similarly introduced to ensure that vehicles which constitute an immediate risk to road safety are not used on roads.

Roadworthiness package

The European Parliament endorsed in March 2014 an EU legislative ‘roadworthiness package’ on periodic vehicle inspections (Directive 2014/45/EU), vehicle registration documents (Directive 2014/46/EU) and roadside inspections of commercial vehicles (Directive 2014/47/EU). The aim of these rules is to improve road safety and set minimum common standards across the European Union.

National transposition

Member States shall adopt and publish, by 20 May 2017, the laws, regulations and administrative measures necessary to comply with the three directives and they shall apply those measures as from 20 May 2018. There is one exception: With regard to the risk rating system referred to in Article 6 of Directive 2014/47/EU, Member States shall apply those measures only as from 20 May 2019.

Minimum standards

The rules will set new minimum common standards across the EU for vehicle testing and inspectors’ training and competences. In addition, at least five per cent of the commercial vehicles on roads in the EU as a whole will be subject to roadside inspections. Member States can also impose stricter standards than those laid down in the rules if they wish.

Requirements for motorcycles and mopeds

The European Commission originally proposed having common testing requirements for motorcycles and mopeds. However, under the compromise agreed between the Council (representatives of the Member States) and the European Parliament, only motorcycles with engines over 125cc will be subject to compulsory inspections, and only from 2022 onwards. Moreover, Member States may exempt them if they have “put in place effective alternative road-safety measures for two or three-wheel vehicles.”

Historic cars

Vehicles of historical interest are supposed to conserve the heritage of the period during which they were constructed, and are considered to be hardly used on public roads. Directive 2014/45/EU on periodic vehicle inspections states that it should be left to Member States to determine the periodicity of roadworthiness testing for such vehicles. It should also be for Member States to regulate roadworthiness testing for other types of specialised vehicles.

Further information

The European Commission’s webpage on ‘roadworthiness package‘ provides detailed information about the three directives.

The European Parliament Research Services (EPRS) documented and analysed Commission’s original roadworthiness package and the stakeholders’ views on it in two briefing: “Roadworthiness package” and “Roadworthiness of motor vehicles“.

Practical tips

The European Commission’s website ‘Your Europe’ offers practical information on EU law and how this legislation is implemented in each Member State. The vehicles webpage contains useful information about registration, driving licence and insurance for cars, as well as the contact details of the competent authorities in the Member States.

Do you have any questions on this issue or another EP-related concern? Please use our web form. You write, we answer.

About Ask EP

The Citizens' Enquiries Unit provides information on the activities, powers and organisation of the European Parliament. You ask, we answer.


5 thoughts on “EU rules on vehicle registration and inspections

  1. Hello! Can I inspect a Germany registered car in Portugal? Tnx for your assistance

    Posted by Tom Peter Ginman | October 27, 2020, 19:04
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    Posted by precise inspection service | October 6, 2018, 09:18
  3. From the bog…
    “Historic cars
    Vehicles of historical interest are supposed to conserve the heritage of the period during which they were constructed, and are considered to be hardly used on public roads.”

    Why on earth do you think that? I drive vehicles of seventy to eighty years of age regularly; certainly every week all year round. I used to use a 1933 car as my daily transport. At my club’s AGM, the hotel car park was full of such cars which had travelled in some cases distances of a hundred to four hundred miles to get there. Two had travelled from continental Europe. The idea that such vehicles only turn out to special pre arranged events is insultingly wrong. Until the (unasked for) exemption from MOT testing, old cars had no problem passing the test.

    What exactly does “conserve the heritage of the period during which they were constructed” mean? They were built to be driven. The move to restrict their use seems to derive from ignorance and perhaps from fear of what you do not understand. My apologies if that last remark seems aggressive and ill-mannered, but it is in response to a bullying attitude to drivers of old cars.

    Posted by Stuart Tallack | October 12, 2016, 13:34
  4. Thanks for the information. It’s good to know a little bit more about how vehicle registration works. Like you said, before a car goes on the road, it should definitely pass inspection and also be registered. I’m going to make sure that when I purchase a car, I get it ready to go.

    Posted by Mia Boyd | June 9, 2015, 21:36

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