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Iv been reading on some forums about done change in EU rules regarding that EU citizens (which I am) cannot drive cars registered outside of the EU within the EU. However, iv can struggling to find any published information regarding what exactly the rules are. At the end if June I was planning to hire a car (already booked) from Basel airport and have a holiday near Freiburg so want to try and find out how (if) I'm effected and what exactly the new regulations are.

  • AFAIK, rules are country-specific and very often a resident (citizen or not) is not allowed to drive a foreign registered car in that country (not in the EU as a whole). I am not aware of any change to the rules, and the EU website does not mention anything like the rule you describe. Where did you hear that? – Relaxed May 14 '16 at 14:47
  • Thanks for your reply, iv been struggling to find any published info (why I came here). Im not sure if you'll be able to get onto this sites without a login but what I have read is at: snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=125693, snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=2888996, ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?n=640711 – skifans May 14 '16 at 14:58
  • I haven't been able to find anything more specific or any authoritative info about any rule change but note that all this is also about EU residents, basically extending the rules that have long existed in various EU countries (including the UK, which is very strict about this) to the EU as a whole. But obviously, if you are a British citizen living in the UK the distinction is moot. – Relaxed May 14 '16 at 15:55
  • @Fiksdal I am note sure if I understand your comment correctly. As a resident of Norway, you can not with very few exceptions drive foreign-registered cars in Norway. If the car is not registered in Norway, it is irrelevant if it is registered in another EU/EFTA/EEA country or somewhere else. If you are caught doing so, the due taxes and penalties can easily go higher than the value of the car. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo May 16 '16 at 16:40
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    @Fiksdal You don't have to import a car and keep it for a long time for the Norwegian taxes to be due. If you as a non-entitled resident drive a foreign-registered car in Norway (it does not even have to be your own, e.g by driving a foreign rental car back to Norway), import taxes and penalties are due immediately. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo May 16 '16 at 16:55
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In the strictest sense: Yes, that works1.

(But you should be well-prepared for a discussion with the police, just in case)

Since you mention going to Freiburg, we're talking specifically about Germany, and the relevant applicable laws are §20 FZV and §3/13 KraftStG.

The first one states that it is legal to temporarily use a foreign car with a valid foreign registration. The second one exempts you from having to pay tax.

There are several important preconditions to fulfill:

  • Temporarily means less than one year. For your example, that's the case.
  • The vehicle must not be designated to be regularly registered in Germany. In non-gibberish, this means that trips must usually start abroad, i.e. the car must have it "home base" abroad. It's the car that matters, not you. For a car rented in Basel, that's arguably the case.
  • You must not transport goods or people for profit (or else the tax exemption is void).
  • The car must be properly registered and have an insurance, with papers in German. No issue when renting in Basel.
  • The car must be "safe for traffic". Pretty much guaranteed in your case, too.


1Let's be more careful and say: "should work", because you never know. Police sometimes has an odd opinion, even when you are perfectly right, so you cannot ever be sure.

For example, depending on whom you encounter, they can be very inventive for giving out fines on purely imaginary regulations, such as when your first aid kit has no expiry date or the date is expired (there's no law requiring that), or if you drive with perfectly legal daylight ilumination, which the particular police man doesn't recognize as such.

  • My brother used to work for a car rental company in the Netherlands. They would normally try to hire out the cars belonging to their foreign locations to someone comming from that country and doing a one way rental. But in case that did not work out, they needed a foreign car for a Dutch driver, they would supply the driver with a form that would allow him to drive the car with the foreign registration. (Law in the Netherlands does usually forbid them doing so.) So ask at the rental company, they should be ready for it. – Willeke May 25 '16 at 15:34
  • @Willeke: That's an example of what would be a car designated to be regularly registered (I assume it is the same or similar in NL). Therefore, illegal. The point is, they are deliberately using a foreign car for something they should (and could easily) use a locally registered one for. Different in the OP's case: The car rental has its base in Switzerland, it is therefore normal to have the car registered there. The car is usually being used in/around Basel, at least this is its presumed purpose. But that does not mean that it's forbidden to exceptionally cross the border with it. – Damon May 26 '16 at 0:52
  • Damon, you miss what I am trying to say. It is usual for rental cars in Europe to cross country borders, it is not only legal, it is normal. While it is (usually) illegal for citizens to drive foreign cars in their home country, they can get away with it when they have the right paperwork which a car rental company can supply. – Willeke May 26 '16 at 18:34

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