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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.
© 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.

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