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The Netherlands have a tax on the acquisition or import of private motor vehicles (BPM) which can be fairly expensive depending on what car you have.

I am moving from Germany to the Netherlands and planned to bring my car with me. The conditions for exemption from this tax include (source) :

  1. You move from another country to the Netherlands and you take your motor vehicle with you.
  2. The motor vehicle forms part of your household effects.
  3. You will use the motor vehicle which you bring with you for the same purpose as you used it abroad.
  4. You bought the motor vehicle which you bring with you at least 6 months before you moved to the Netherlands and you used the motor vehicle during this period.
  5. You lived at least 12 months abroad before you moved to the Netherlands.

My question regards point 2.:
The car in question was bought by my parents in Germany in 2009 and is registered to one of them since then. Since 2010 the car has been in my possession, with me being listed as one of its drivers in the insurance, while the ownership of the car still lies with my parents.
For the purpose of exemption of the tax listed above, can the car be considered part of my 'household effects' ?

  • What is the other country? Ownership might be defined differently there. Similarly, while the guidance says "You bought the motor vehicle", the law on which it is based may be worded differently. Although you didn't buy the vehicle, you may well own it. How you evidence this will depend on where you are, and the legal position on ownership. – Sam_Butler Nov 19 '19 at 16:45
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    I'm living in Germany currently and the car was bought here too, I'll adjust the question accordingly. – deemel Nov 19 '19 at 17:32
  • No, someone else's car is not your household effects. – Putvi Nov 19 '19 at 17:58
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ECJ case C170/3 covers this (BPM on car imports to the Netherlands, when the car was not originally owned by the driver/importer) specifically. There are two requirements:

  1. You must own the car at the moment that you import it.
  2. Prior to import, you must have had a connection to the car.

The first condition is logical; if your parents would still own the car they'd be exporting it to the Netherlands. The second one is satisfied by the fact that you drove the car since 2010.

In ECJ C170/3 Mr. Feron imported a car that was originally bought by his employer, but it's otherwise similar enough.

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Without reference to Dutch law, and thus assuming it requires you or a member of your household to have been the owner of the motor vehicle for six months, the question hinges on whether in German law, the possessor of a motor vehicle that was bought by someone else, is indeed its owner.

Unlike in English law, possession and ownership are separate concepts in German law. That is to say, possession does not necessarily give someone a proprietary right, and the motor vehicle may not be considered your property.

In A Comparison of German Moveable Property Law and English Personal Property Law, Rahmatian writes:

Where the acquirer of the thing has already got the res [thing; item] in his/her possession, ownership can be transferred by the mere agreement between the parties that the new owner (acquirer) who has hitherto held the thing with the intention to possess for the transferor, shall now exercise possession for himself: traditio brevi manu ["Der Fremdbesitzer wird zum Eigenbesitzer"].

Agreement from your parents that you are the owner, given that you already have possession and can easily demonstrate dominion over the vehicle, would be sufficient to make you its owner. Whether such an agreement can be retrospective is outside my realm of experience, however it would seem that an agreement dated more than six months prior to the date of moving to the Netherlands would establish your ownership of the vehicle, making it therefore part of your household effects.

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No someone else's car is not part of your household effects.

Your effects would be things you own. Not things other people own.

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