Ukrainians have trouble legally registering cars in Latvia

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In Latvia, the law provides that cars with foreign number plates must be registered if their driver remains in Latvia for more than three months. However, due to a flaw in the legislation, fewer than ten Ukrainian refugees have registered their vehicles, Latvian Television reported on June 15.

LTV met a refugee from Ukraine, Irina, at the support center in Rīga. She came to Latvia at the end of March but at the moment she is afraid to drive as she does not want to violate Latvia's laws.

Irina said she had been to the Road Traffic Safety Directorate (CSDD) twice and realized that the statutory registration of a car would cost her more than €1,000. Irina was told that when she registered the vehicle she would have to pay 10% of the value of the car on the customs duty.

“At the moment, the information that I and my acquaintances have, that in order to register a car here, we have to carry out clearing, customs duties, roadworthiness, certification, and changing plates,” said Irina.

The information provided to Irina is partly true, as the requirement for a customs duty does not apply to refugees from Ukraine, said Ivars Vucens, head of the Customs Consultation Division of the State Revenue Service (VID). The trouble is that the information is not widespread and many have not received it. In order to obtain the exempt status, the refugee must contact a customs broker and complete the customs declaration, which must be accompanied by a personal identification document, an application in free form for a change of place of residence due to war, and a copy of the long-term visa issued by the Office for Citizenship and Migration Affairs (PMLP) with the right to work without restriction. The completed declaration must be brought to CSDD.

The trouble does not end there. CSDD said that at present fewer than ten Ukrainian cars have been registered in Latvia because the arrangements for registering the car are intended to certify it if the vehicle was manufactured for a market outside the European Union (EU). A large proportion of cars with Ukrainian number plates have not been manufactured for the European market.

“Without this certification, which is currently required by legislation, this registration cannot be carried out at all,” said CSDD spokesman Mārtiņš Mālmeisters.

Thus, at the moment, there is either a requirement for very expensive certification or a ban on driving after 90 days since arrival. 

The Ministry of Transport told LTV that on Wednesday the Saeima's responsible commission will see amendments to the law in order to remove the certification requirements for Ukrainian refugees and to register a vehicle registered in Ukraine for up to three years in Latvia without a statement of compliance. It is planned that these amendments could be approved by the Saeima on Thursday and would enter into force on the day following the announcement of the amendments.


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