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A friend of mine got fined for "belastingontduiking" (tax evasion) driving in NL with a BE car, owned by his parents who live across the border, in Belgium, 5 km away from him. This resulted in this question, as my husband and I will own a Dutch drivers license and a British car.

Assume someone owning a Dutch drivers license and a car with British license plates living in the UK. This is allowed. This person wants to visit the Netherlands for less than 90 days (beyond that they have to register as a resident) and takes their British car and Dutch drivers license to Netherlands. Can they be fined for doing this? If so, can they take this to court and win? If yes, how?

If it matters, I am Dutch/Belgian, husband is British.

  • I don't really understand how someone with a borrowed car could be fined for tax evasion. Are you sure this story is correct? – Summer Jul 25 '16 at 15:27
  • @JaneDoe1337 yep. As ridiculous as it sounds, the story is correct. – Belle-Sophie Jul 25 '16 at 15:30
  • Here's an article with a similar story as my friend's (in Dutch) pressreader.com/netherlands/de-telegraaf/20080826/… – Belle-Sophie Jul 25 '16 at 15:35
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    @JaneDoe1337 If you live in the NL and drive a car with foreign registration for more than two weeks, you must pay road tax in the NL. So the story is probably correct. However if you can prove you live in the UK, you probably won't have a problem. – RHA Jul 25 '16 at 15:37
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    Good question. Assuming you speak Dutch, you could try to call or e-mail the 'Belastingdienst' and ask them about this matter. There usually very helpfull. – RHA Jul 25 '16 at 15:48
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Inside the EU, the country of issue of your driving license should be irrelevant. What is important is that the registration of the car matches your country of residence. And even so, it only really matters in your own country of residence ; you can go on holiday to Italy from Sweden and rent a car there.

The police officer may assume that you are doing something irregular to evade taxes, but if you show the tunnel/ferry ticket with a reasonably recent date and some proof of residence, it's hard to imagine how they can try to push on that.

Your friend's fine was near a border, where people pull all sorts of tricks to evade taxes, and authorities tend to have a harder hand. A British car in the Netherlands is "two countries away" and in the wrong side of the road to be suspicious.

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    "two countries away": how do you figure that ? There is a direct ferry connection. – phoog Jul 26 '16 at 7:17
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    @phoog: Is more a figure of speech than actual fact. An 8 hour ferry doesn't make them neighbouring countries; and definitely hard to play tax tricks across the channel. – Diego Sánchez Jul 26 '16 at 7:38
  • @DiegoSánchez Not really, many people using that particular trick (car registered under their parent's name) live nowhere near the border. In fact, I don't think the authorities care all that much about someone who is genuinely borrowing a car once, the thing is that it's difficult to distinguish on the spot between that and using a car on a (semi-)permanent basis so that's why both are treated similarly for enforcement purposes (but +1 to your answer as the rest is spot on). – Relaxed Jul 26 '16 at 10:18
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To accomodate the people living in/around Baarle-Nassau, there's bound to be some special rules between Belgium and the Netherlands, but I don't know them - but in general the rule is that a car should be registered in the country where it is used. The point is that taxes associated with the car are meant to contribute to the society that has expenses (e.g. maintainance of the roads) from it's use.

Of course there are rules for passing through and vacationing in other countries, but as soon your use doesn't match those, the rules get strict. An example: I live and work in Copenhagen, but have colleagues who live in Malmø, Sweden. They are allowed to drive their Swedish registered cars to/from work, but (as far as I have understood) they are not allowed to use it for trips wholely within Denmark, i.e. they can go shopping in Danish stores on their way home from work.

When you have to stay in a different country for a limited amount of time there's a possibility to get permission for using your car while there. When I was 9 (so too young to care about the tax details), we lived in France for ~3 months, because my father had to attend some course together with some of his colleagues, some of which brought and used their Danish registered cars (my family didn't have a car) - they probably paid some tax to France (and possibly got some tax return in Denmark).


Returning to your cases.

The Dutch authorities were probably right when they issued that fine, and you should look into if your planned stay in the Netherlands is so long that you need a permission to bring and use your car while there.

  • Thank you for your answer, but I don't think it quite answers my question. I don't owe Netherlands any taxes on my car when I take it there on vacation, which is very different from working abroad and having a company car. Unless there are similarities that I missed. After all, I'm asking the question because this whole tax system is confusing ^^ – Belle-Sophie Jul 25 '16 at 20:44
  • Trying to address your questions. No, you can't be fined for taking your british car to the Netherlands, but if you use it regularly for a period of time (and I don't know what that period would be), you can be fined for that. If you're given such a fine, you can take it court, but you'll (most likely) lose. – Henrik Jul 25 '16 at 21:19
  • I think that using someone else's car is OK if they are in the car and themselves reside abroad. – Relaxed Jul 26 '16 at 1:28
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What matters is the country of residence. You did not write that explicitely but it sounds as if your friend might have been a Dutch resident (possibly "borrowing" his or her parents' car regularly). I have heard similar stories about German citizens driving a German car with a German driving license (not even close to the border), the issue is that the Netherlands has quite high taxes for cars so people are tempted to circumvent them by using a car registered abroad long-term.

So, in principle, what you need to have is some evidence that you reside in the UK (although even that might not be needed as it should be easy for the police to check whether you are registered as a resident in the Netherlands).

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