I read somewhere recently, that german officials seized foreign cars, based on "not TÜV approved" (TÜV being the authority to decide vehicle road legality in Germany), even though said vehicle is legal in the country where it's registered. This is a specific example (Germany), but is this something to consider while driving (eg.) around Europe in my own car, that the vehicle needs to meet local regulations?

(To give another specific example - in the UK, tyres don't have to be the same on an axle, and I believe this is not legal all around Europe. Can my vehicle be seized if tyres mismatch on the same axle but is registered in the uk? it's a holiday trip and not permanent all year driving abroad.)

  • I don't know so I won't make this an answer, but I suspect it depends on how long the car is in Germany. Sep 14, 2019 at 2:25

3 Answers 3


Further researching into the topic, sources are very few. I found this thread with some useful information:


TLDR; A guy was driving from poland to the UK with a UK registered (his) vehicle when he was stopped by the German Bundespolizei on entering Germany. Vehicle was said to look lacking 'german standards' with regards to safety and forced him to drive to DEKRA station where it was tested and given a list of things they did not like.

(After getting the embassy involved) Apparently police can only stop you from driving a for brakes, overloading, things like missing seatbelts loose seats etc., safety related issues that create danger to others that would reasonably be expected to create the same danger in the vehicles constituent member state.

(please note, the above scenario was specific to Germany, but it's worth checking the regulations of the destination country regardsless, to avoid fines - eg. the requirement in France to have high visibility vest at least for the driver in case of a breakdown)


Your car registration certificate has to be recognised by other EU countries when you travel or move to another EU country.

Car registration documents and formalities

To avoid fines, you should always look into national laws but...

...registration and road-worthiness tests are matters of the member state where you normally reside. If German police thinks otherwise, then it's most likely them lacking European standards. If you're worried about it, I would send a letter to Europe Direct (ie. the European Commission) before you go and ask them to write an explanation in the language of the country you're visiting.

  • This does not make too much sense. A road-worthiness certificate only confirms that the vehicle was road-worthy at the time of the last inspection. Much can have changed since then. I am very sure that also UK authorities have means to ban the usage of a vehicle if the current state is not good enough, even if a valid road-worthiness certificate is present. German authorities will also have this option, even if the vehicle is registered abroad, be it in another EU member state or somewhere else. Sep 16, 2019 at 15:41
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo It does in the context of the OP as police demanded the vehicle be approved by German authorities which they cannot or only in a limited scope. Sep 16, 2019 at 16:37
  • German police is not able themself to decide wether a car is road-worthy or not, but if they suspect a car to not be, they will send you or take you to an approved authority for further inspection. It will not matter if the car is registered in Germany or abroad, which is something I find rather obvious and I don't understand why you claim something else. If any faults are too severe, further use of the vehicle will be prohibited. For a foreign car, German authorities can only prohibit use in Germany and not revoke the registration. Sep 16, 2019 at 17:21
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo You're mixing up different things here. First of all, the OP said "TÜV approved" was the reason to seize the car. German TUV does not approve foreign vehicles. It's not their job. Secondly, road-worthiness is not the same as safety. They probably may fine you for driving a car with let's say broken lights but it's unlikely that they can remove your number plates and annul your car's approval. Think of registration authorities as courts with judges who make decisions. If someone wants to sue you, they have to do that where you live. Sep 16, 2019 at 19:54
  • The principle I mentioned is one an important aspect of the rules of law. One government authority cannot simply declare the decision of an authority in another jurisdiction as null and void. The way court rulings work is a good example. If national authorities were allowed to act in the described way, the Four Pillars of the EU could not exist and neither could the EU. Only by mutual recognition of national decisions, free movement is possible. Even if there were a hidden law in Germany that allows them to do exactly that, EU laws would supersede it. Sep 16, 2019 at 20:13

They don't seized a car, they don't allow you to continue using it or refuse entry - but only in cases of

  • serious or dangerous deficiencies

which may not be the cases in slightly different regulations.

My assumption is no, since if it was (in the case of the tyrers) it would be well known that British drivers will have problems in France and Germany.

Note: No official translation for the laws ar offered

For Non-Commercial Vehicles:

Straßenverkehrs-Ordnung (StVO) § 36 Zeichen und Weisungen der Polizeibeamten

(5) Polizeibeamte dürfen Verkehrsteilnehmer zur Verkehrskontrolle einschließlich der Kontrolle der Verkehrstüchtigkeit und zu Verkehrserhebungen anhalten. Das Zeichen zum Anhalten kann auch durch geeignete technische Einrichtungen am Einsatzfahrzeug, eine Winkerkelle oder eine rote Leuchte gegeben werden. Mit diesen Zeichen kann auch ein vorausfahrender Verkehrsteilnehmer angehalten werden. Die Verkehrsteilnehmer haben die Anweisungen der Polizeibeamten zu befolgen.

5) Police officers may stop road users to control traffic including the control of roadworthiness and traffic surveys. The signal to stop can also be given by appropriate technical equipment on a emergency vehicle, a Winkenkelle or a red light. These signal can also be used to stop a driver driving ahead. Road users must follow the instructions of police officers.

For Commercial Vehicles (Nutzfahrzeugen) only:

The list of items that can be check is actually much more extensive

Annex II Directive 2014/47/EU

    (0) Identification of the vehicle;
    (1) Braking equipment; (2) Steering;
    (3) Visibility;
    (4) Lighting equipment and parts of electrical system;
    (5) Axles, wheels, tyres, suspension;
    (6) Chassis and chassis attachments;
    (7) Other equipment;
    (8) Nuisance;
    (9) Supplementary tests for passenger-carrying vehicles of categories M2 and M3.

Would seem to me a rather extensive list.

The corresponding German directive is:

Verordnung über technische Kontrollen von Nutzfahrzeugen auf der Straße

§ 7 TechKontrollV - Einzelnorm

(1) Die bei der Kontrolle festgestellten Mängel werden nach der im Anhang II der Richtlinie 2014/47/EU vorgenommenen Bewertung in eine der Gruppen: geringe Mängel, erhebliche Mängel oder gefährliche Mängel eingestuft. Weist ein Fahrzeug Mängel auf, die in mehrere Mängelgruppen fallen, so wird es in die Gruppe eingeordnet, die dem schwerwiegendsten Mangel entspricht. Ein Fahrzeug mit mehreren Mängeln innerhalb der gleichen Prüfbereiche der technischen Unterwegskontrolle nach Anhang II Nummer 1 der Richtlinie 2014/47/EU wird in die nächsthöhere Mängelgruppe eingestuft, wenn davon auszugehen ist, dass das Zusammenwirken dieser Mängel eine größere Gefährdung der Straßenverkehrssicherheit oder der Umwelt bewirkt.

(1) The deficiencies identified during the check are classified, according to the assessment made in Annex II to Directive 2014/47 / EU, into one of the groups: minor deficiencies, significant deficiencies or dangerous deficiencies. If a vehicle has defects that fall into several groups of defects, it is classified in the group that corresponds to the most serious defect. A vehicle with several deficiencies within the same test areas of the roadworthiness test referred to in point 1 of Annex II to Directive 2014/47 / EU shall be classified in the next higher failure group if it is considered that the combination of these deficiencies will increase the safety of the road or the environment ,

(2) Werden bei der Überprüfung eines Fahrzeugs erhebliche oder gefährliche Mängel festgestellt, kann die Benutzung des Fahrzeugs bis zur Beseitigung der Mängel vorläufig untersagt werden. Sind gefährliche Mängel festgestellt worden, darf eine vorläufige Nutzung des Fahrzeugs allein zu dem Zweck der Beseitigung der Mängel gestattet werden, wenn bei dem Betrieb des Fahrzeugs keine unmittelbaren Gefahren für die Sicherheit der Insassen oder anderer Verkehrsteilnehmer oder für die Umwelt bestehen. Bei Mängeln, die nicht unverzüglich beseitigt werden müssen, bestimmt die zuständige Behörde eine angemessene Frist, binnen derer die Mängel beseitigt werden müssen. Die Befugnis zur vorläufigen Weiternutzung des Fahrzeugs kann mit Bedingungen und Auflagen verbunden werden.

(2) If significant or dangerous deficiencies are found during the inspection of a vehicle, the use of the vehicle may be provisionally prohibited until the defects are remedied. If dangerous deficiencies have been identified, provisional use of the vehicle for the sole purpose of remedying the deficiencies shall be permitted if there are no immediate risks to the safety of the occupants or other road users or to the environment during operation of the vehicle. For deficiencies that do not need to be remedied immediately, the competent authority will determine a reasonable time within which the deficiencies must be remedied. The power to provisionally reuse the vehicle may be subject to conditions and obligations.

(3) Unbeschadet des Absatzes 2 können von der zuständigen Behörde bei erheblichen oder gefährlichen Mängeln folgende Maßnahmen veranlasst werden: 1. Übermittlung des Kontrollberichts an die zuständige Zulassungsbehörde, damit diese über Anordnungen nach § 5 der Fahrzeug-Zulassungs-Verordnung entscheiden kann,
2. die Verweigerung der Einfahrt des Nutzfahrzeugs, das in einem Drittland zugelassen ist, in die Bundesrepublik Deutschland.

(3) Without prejudice to paragraph 2, the following measures may be taken by the competent authority in the event of significant or dangerous deficiencies: 1. transmission of the inspection report to the competent authority, so that it may decide on orders under § 5 of the Vehicle Registration Regulation; 2. the refusal of the entry of the commercial vehicle, which is registered in a third country, to the Federal Republic of Germany.

I would take the claim made here with a ton of salt ...

Hi guys as a follow up to this it seems you were all a bit wrong. Turns out the German police were wrong, the embassy ended up getting involved as the main point of focus was the lack of winter tyres, the headlights, the fact the vehicle was badged different to the V5 document, and a battery terminal being loose, were not items of safety. apparently police can only stop a vehicle from moving for brakes, overloading, things like absent seatbelts loose seats etc only safety related issues that create danger to others that would reasonably be expected to create the same danger in the vehicles constituent member state. So issue solved, German police told off, and vehicle is back in the UK. Thanks for your inputs!

  • The directive you link to relates to "the technical roadside inspection of the roadworthiness of commercial vehicles", so doesn't apply in this case, as the OP says it's his/her own vehicle. Not speaking German, and you having provided no translation, I can't say whether the other law you quote is applicable; it starts off mentioning that directive, so I'm guessing not.
    – MadHatter
    Sep 16, 2019 at 6:35
  • @MadHatter you are correct. Actually it is much simpler. StVO §36(5). Will adapt text for both cases. Sep 16, 2019 at 7:13
  • Roger that, and thanks. If you could also provide translations, even bad ones, of German laws you quote, that would be most helpful.
    – MadHatter
    Sep 16, 2019 at 7:25
  • @MadHatter I try, but it is not always easy to 'copy' the legel language and what the translate programs return is not usable. Many of these laws have official English translations, which I look for first. Will try later since I am sure the StVO is translated somewhere. Sep 16, 2019 at 7:35
  • @MadHatter for both no English version available Sep 16, 2019 at 7:59

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