The RAC has welcomed the Government’s announcement that they will trial the sharing of data between HM Revenue and Customs, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and six police forces, with a view to ensuring foreign vehicles that stay in the country longer than six months pay their share of motoring taxation and can be pursued to pay motoring fines.
The trial is being announced by transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin and will run from November 3 until February.
It aims to reduce the revenue lost through drivers using UK roads illegally and will also ensure that such vehicles have a current MoT certificate and are therefore fit to be on the road.
Vehicles found to be on UK roads illegally will be impounded and subject to a £200 release fee.
In July this year, the RAC raised the issue, calling for the creation of a database of non-UK-registered cars by capturing vehicle identities as they enter and leave the UK, amidst concerns that millions of pounds of revenue was being lost due to untaxed foreign cars being driven on British roads well beyond the six months permitted without UK car tax or a valid vehicle MoT test certificate.
It is now estimated that 350,000 drivers have flouted the law at a cost of £60million in lost tax to the Treasury.
The issue centred on the fact that details of every non-UK vehicle entering and leaving the country is captured by HM Revenue and Customs but are not currently passed on to the DVLA for licensing enforcement purposes.
If the information was passed on, it would enable the authorities to take more effective enforcement measures against drivers of overseas registered vehicles breaking the law.
RAC head of external affairs Pete Williams said: “The RAC has been very vocal in calling for a solution to this problem so this announcement is good news for all law-abiding British motorists who have rightly felt aggrieved that foreign-registered vehicles are allowed to get away with not paying Vehicle Excise Duty after being in the country for more than six months.
“Now a solution is to be trialled, we will be on the way to discovering how many foreign vehicles we actually have in the UK. This will ultimately mean that the Treasury will gain more tax revenue which we can only hope will be put towards improving the desperate state of our roads – a constant source of frustration to motorists.
“Just as we don’t know the true number of foreign cars in the UK that should be paying Vehicle Excise Duty – ‘car tax’, we also don’t know how many vehicles require MoTs to make sure they are roadworthy and can be insured, and similarly, how many need to be traced to pay speeding fines generated by safety cameras.
"The trial will naturally help to make our roads safer as it should reduce the number of foreign vehicles being driven in the UK without MoTs in an unroadworthy condition.”
Under DVLA rules, visiting non-UK cars must be registered once they have been here for six months when they must pay a £55 first registration fee, ensure they have paid vehicle excise duty (VED) – ‘car tax’, obtain an MoT if the vehicle is over three years old and in some instances pay VAT.
The six police forces involved in the trial are: Hampshire, Northamptonshire, Staffordshire, Thames Valley, West Mercia and West Midlands.