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Keeping track of vehicles within the EU (intra-EU trade)

1.       Background information

Each Member State of the EU 28 maintains its own national vehicle registration system. Currently, neither the registration procedure nor the vehicle registries are regulated at an EU level and, therefore, they are not harmonized. Council Directive 1999/37/EC[1], defines a minimum content for the electronic vehicle registers becoming applicable as of 20 May 2018.

Article 5(2) of Council Directive 1999/37/EC stipulates that:

With a view to re-registering a vehicle previously registered in another Member State, the competent authorities shall require the submission of Part I of the previous registration certificate in every case and the submission of Part II if it was issued. These authorities shall withdraw the part(s) of the previous registration certificate submitted and shall keep the latter for a minimum of six months. They shall, within two months, inform the authorities of the Member State which delivered the certificate of its withdrawal. They shall return the certificate which they have withdrawn to those authorities if they so request within six months of its withdrawal.

However, national vehicle registration authorities are not obliged to report on this export/ import of used vehicles within the EU. The Foreign Trade Statistics (FTS) for intra-EU trade, based on reports from enterprises, is hampered by high reporting thresholds and is therefore not a relevant source[2]. As a result, most of the national competent authorities for ELV reporting have no information on intra-EU export/ import of used vehicles at hand, even if such information should be available to vehicle registration authorities.

For vehicles that are exported within the EU and de-registered in the country of origin, but never re-registered, the situation is different. When these vehicles are no longer (economically) repairable, they become ELVs. In these cases, the ELV Directive stipulates that these vehicles should be depolluted and dismantled in an Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF). The ATF should hand out the Certificate of Destruction (CoD) to the holder/ owner. CoDs are rarely issued for such imported vehicles, and in only very few cases they are sent to the competent authorities where the vehicle was last registered.

EReg, the Association of European Vehicle and Driver Registration Authorities, addressed implementing the ELV directive in the EReg Topic Group III and prepared a final report on end-of life vehicles[3]. Among other points, the report recommended establishing a better information exchange between national authorities using the European Vehicle and Driving Licence Information System[4] (EUCARIS) software application. A number of Member States apply the data exchange, but it is not obligatory.


2.       Key issue

Information on export/ import of used vehicles is necessary to validate the reported numbers of treated ELVs in the Member States. The majority of the competent authorities for reporting on ELV are, for various reasons, not able to report on export/ import of used vehicles within the EU, even if data is available to the national registration authorities (e.g. in cases where the vehicle is re-registered in the country of destination). When a used vehicle is exported and later dismantled without being re-registered in the country of destination, it is difficult to keep track of such vehicles.


[1]    OJ L 138, 1.6.1999, p. 57–65, amended by Directive 2014/46/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 April 2014 amending Council Directive 1999/37/EC on the registration documents for vehicles, OJ L 127, 29.4.2014, p. 129–133.

[2]    European second-hand car market analysis (2011):

[3]    Rose, L., Pullen F. (2009): EReg Topic Group III, Vehicle end-of-life, Final V1.0, Association of European Vehicle and Driver Registration Authorities 24 July 2009;; accessed 12 May 2016

[4]    EUCARIS: an exchange mechanism (not a database) that connects the Vehicle and Driving Licence Registration Authorities in Europe, was developed by and for governmental authorities and, among other issues, supports the fight against vehicle theft and registration fraud. EUCARIS was started in 1994 as a co-operation among national registration authorities from five European countries to fight international vehicle crime and to counteract “driving licence tourism” by means of exchanging vehicle and driving licence information between its members. The international co-operation has been formalised in the multilateral EUCARIS Treaty on 29 June 2000 in Luxembourg, signed by Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. On 1 May 2009 the Treaty formally entered into force. Since then, other States have also gained access to the cooperation network and have acceded to the Treaty. (