Car advocates fuming over plan to reinstate plate fee

Europe’s most expensive number plates would become 15 percent dearer if changes to the regulation procedure are approved

Just six months after the car registration process was changed in order to make the process easier and less expensive, the Tax Ministry is now proposing changes that would save the state 75 million kroner a year by again requiring people to pay fees in order to obtain number plates.

Under the current law, tax authority Skat and private vehicle inspection stations are not allowed to charge for providing the registration service.

Instead, private vehicle inspection companies are compensated between 60 and 200 kroner by the state for registering vehicles. Car dealerships, on the other hand, are permitted to claim a fee for the providing the same service.

The Tax Ministry is now proposing to do away with the rules, on the grounds that the compensation system has proved too expensive and difficult for the state to administer.

Should the changes that are currently being discussed be approved, vehicle inspection stations would be able to set a fee for registering the car and picking up the plate from a Skat office. If a car owner were to take care of the procedure on their own, the fee would be a flat rate of 200 kroner.

With the change, it would cost a minimum of 1,380 kroner to obtain new number plates, compared with the 1,180 kroner it costs today. There will also be a 60 kroner fee associated with unregistering a car and it will cost 480 kroner, instead of 380 kroner today, to change the ownership of a car.

The move to re-introduce the number plate fees has been met with disappointment from motorists association FDM, which called the measure “a hidden tax”.

“Clearly, this is does not have much to do with issuing number plates. It’s about the government needing money for some other endeavour,” Torben Lund Kudsk, a spokesperson for FDM, told Politiken newspaper. “So they find a place where they can get away with it and put a fee on something that is already the most expensive in Europe.”

The Tax Ministry proposal seeks to ensure that there is fair competition in the registration process.

“If we didn’t charge a fee at Skat then everyone would go there, and then the inspection stations wouldn’t get customers,” Thomas Jensen, a spokesperson for Socialdemokraterne (S), told Politiken.

Jens Brendstrup, managing director of Danmarks Automobilforhandler Forening, a car dealers’ association, agreed with FDM’s criticism.

“The move is a sign that there have been some problems with the system that they are trying to solve and they do so by further taxing people,” Brendstrup said to Politiken. “That’s comparable to once again raising taxes for car owners. The politicians don’t see cars a mode of transportation, they see them as a source of income.”