expensive and long – DW – 03/28/2023

expensive and long – DW – 03/28/2023

About a million refugees from Ukraine live in Germany. Many, fleeing the war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine, got here in their own cars. No one knows exactly how many cars with Ukrainian numbers are on German roads – such records are still not kept.

In March 2022, when the first wave of refugees from Ukraine reached Germany, the federal states and the government in Berlin clarified that Ukrainian cars were exempted from mandatory registration for a year. However, there is no end in sight to the war, and there is still no decision – what to do next with Ukrainian cars.

€70 fine

State and federal governments point fingers at each other and argue over authority. The issue was up in the air – despite the fact that in all states, without exception, in the comments for DW they said that they were striving for an agreed solution that would be valid throughout Germany. Representatives of the land ministries are expected to return to this issue at the working level only in May. The Federal Ministry of Transport has not yet commented on the appeal of colleagues from the regions with a request to develop proposals for a joint approach to this issue.

German entry sign
Many Ukrainian refugees entered Germany in their carsPhoto: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Hoppe

The uncertainty is making many Ukrainian car owners in Germany nervous. And there are reasons for this, as the answers from the ministries of transport of some states confirm. “Operation of a car not registered in Germany, which must be registered after the one-year period has expired, is an administrative offense that may result in a fine of 70 euros,” the Thuringian Ministry of Transport noted, in particular.

True, none of the federal lands reported that targeted checks of Ukrainian cars on the roads are planned, given that in many cases the annual period set for registration ends.

The main problem is the certificate of conformity

Kiev resident Inna Polishchuk decided not to wait for the officials to decide something. For her – a lawyer by profession – the very uncertainty was unbearable. Although Ukrainians have not yet been intimidated by fines, Polishchuk has been in Germany for exactly a year with his car and does not want – even formally – to feel like a violator. Therefore, I undertook to deal with registration a few months before the annual period expired.

The stock of time, as well as money and nerves, judging by her story, turned out to be quite useful. “I spent a total of about one and a half thousand euros. I paid 800 euros only for the obligatory German civil liability insurance for registration,” the woman says. The fact is that OSAGO for beginners is many times more expensive than for drivers who have driving experience without accidents.

Inna Polishchuk
Inna Polishchuk remains in Germany. Registering a car for her is a matter of lawPhoto: private

But the local insurance companies do not take into account the experience of driving with a Ukrainian driver’s license. All Ukrainians actually have to pay as novice drivers if they want to register a car. Those who are not yet in a hurry or do not know how long they will stay in Germany in general can buy a “green card”, which is much cheaper.

Another 211 euros Polishchuk cost an annual car tax. It varies depending on engine size and emissions. The woman paid about one hundred euros for the registration procedure itself, plus about 500 more for technical inspection, including the costs of obtaining a European certificate of conformity (Certificate of conformity – CoC). This certificate is the biggest headache for Ukrainian drivers who decide to register a car in Germany.

“My car is almost new, and it is made in the EU, in Slovakia. So I hoped that there would be no problems,” says Polishchuk. However, the local Kia dealer she contacted had an unpleasant surprise in store for Polishchuk. Since the car was made for the market of post-Soviet countries, they cannot issue a certificate for it in Germany.

263 euros for copying data from form to form

I had to contact a Kia dealer in Ukraine. “It turned out that since the car is not for the EU market, there is no European certificate of conformity (CoC) for it in nature,” continues Polishchuk. Fortunately, she managed to get out: the Ukrainian dealer sent a Ukrainian certificate of conformity, adding to it another sheet with the data required in the EU countries. The German dealer transferred this data to a German-style document (Datenblatt), for which he charged – neither more nor less – 263 euros. In the end, all the registration procedures took a month and a half.

Kia Telluride at the US Auto Show, April 2022
Kia Telluride at the US Auto Show, April 2022Photo: Brendan McDermid/REUTERS

Lucky, at least, the woman adds, that the import duty did not have to be paid – customs make an exception for those who indicate that they plan to stay in Germany and undertake not to sell the car for a year. “I decided to stay in Germany, so sooner or later I would have to do it. Although the procedure itself is not simple, but as a lawyer, I even like the German captious bureaucracy in some ways. I understand its meaning,” admits Inna Polishchuk.

The aims and tasks of the bureaucracy and officials when registering cars were recalled in the DW commentary at the All-German Automobile Club (ADAC). “It is important that traffic safety is guaranteed from the point of view of the technical condition of cars. In addition, there must be insurance protection,” ADAC, which is an influential representative of the interests of German motorists, believes.

Both of these aspects are also emphasized by the governments of a number of federal states, in particular, Bavaria and Thuringia. But two lands – Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt – without waiting for other decisions, extended the period of re-registration of cars for Ukrainians for another year, requiring only the presentation of an international insurance policy for temporary exclusion from mandatory registration.

It’s dangerous to drive without a motor vehicle

No matter how long the uncertainty about the status of Ukrainian cars continues, ADAC reminds: all cars without exception must have a “green card” or other insurance policy. “Whoever uses a car without a civil liability insurance policy can be punished with a fine or imprisonment for up to one year,” club representatives say. And whether you drive in this case without insurance intentionally, or out of ignorance – no one cares.

Center of Berlin
In Germany, speeding tickets come by mail. This does not concern Ukrainians – no one knows their addressesPhoto: Rainer Jensen/dpa/picture alliance

According to statistics recently cited by the MDR TV and radio company with reference to the German Association of Insurers (GDV), from June 2022 to March 2023, there were 262 accidents involving Ukrainian motorists who did not have an insurance policy – that is, almost one accident every day. The GDV reminds that in addition to fines, such drivers are also expected to receive compensation for the damage caused.

Back to Ukraine?

Whatever German politicians ultimately decide regarding the conditions for further registration or exemption from it, many Ukrainian car owners simply will not be able to pass a strict technical inspection here with their cars. In addition to the dubious technical condition of used cars that have not been subjected to technical inspection for many years (in Ukraine it is optional), the main obstacle will be obtaining a certificate of conformity.

In particular, in many reviews on social networks, Ukrainians indicate that they ordered “broken” cars from the United States for delivery to Ukraine. Often these are models that are not officially presented either on the Ukrainian or on the European markets. In addition, car repairs in Ukraine are often carried out using spare parts that are not certified in the EU.

Many Ukrainians on the forums write that, if necessary, a technical inspection will take the car back to Ukraine. “That’s what we plan to do with my father’s old car,” says former Kiev resident Inna Polishchuk. She herself has recently been driving German license plates with a Ukrainian flavor – the combination UA38 (+38 is the telephone code of Ukraine).

See also:

The center of Berlin wants to be freed from cars

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