As I understood I am free to import goods from other countries within Europe tax free. I have been living in The Netherlands for 3 years now, but I want to bring my car from home country, Latvia. Yet, the rules state that "Permits are granted to those who have lived in another EU state for at least twelve months and who have owned the car or motorcycle for at least six months. "

And "These restrictions are in place to stop Dutch residents buying much less expensive cars in Germany and bringing them back across the border to Holland."

Now, how is this legal? They are basically obstructing my rights to import goods freely, by adding additional rules. Is this legal to do, and can they enforce it?

Source: https://www.angloinfo.com/how-to/netherlands/transport/vehicle-ownership/importing-a-car

1 Answer 1


I can't find a link proving it, but car registration taxes are not covered by the rules on free movement of goods. Thus the answer is "Yes, the Netherlands can legally enforce the car import tax."

This page from the EU commission talks about removing the different levels of registration taxes, but doesn't actually say they are allowed.

This page talks about the VAT rules. (You shouldn't have to pay VAT on bringing in a car that is at least six months old and has travelled 6000 km.)

  • I don't think this answer is technically correct, based on my reading of the relevant ECJ judgement (see law.stackexchange.com/questions/46602/…). Whether a particular car registration tax is covered under the free movement rules depends on the details of the tax. Fee-like taxes are allowed because they cover administrative costs. Use-like taxes are allowed because they're not related to the action of importing a car. Dutch BPM tax is allowed because it's intentionally structured the right way to be allowed.
    – MSalters
    Nov 26, 2019 at 12:27

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