Malta: Registration And Licensing Of Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Regulations, 2015

Before the introduction of the Registration and Licensing of Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Regulations, published on the 5th of June 2015, if an individual bought a car abroad and imported the car into Malta the law did not authorise the individual to use the car on the Maltese roads until the registration process was completed and until the Maltese number plates would have been obtained. However, with the coming into effect of the recent amendments, an individual residing in Malta would be able to drive his car upon applying for a temporary licence which is valid for 30 days. The validation period shall start operating at that particular moment when the vehicle arrives in Malta. This licence shall remain valid until the official registration is approved.

These amendments have been brought into force mainly because enforcing road regulations has become very challenging for the executive police, especially due to the large amount of foreign vehicles coming into Malta from various foreign states. Thus, the amendments will directly affect those individuals who plan to relocate to Malta from any EU or non EU member state and for any film making company going through its pre-production stage.

Obtaining a temporary licensing disc

An application shall be submitted within one working day upon the arrival of the vehicle in Malta and the following shall be presented to the Authority for Transport in Malta:

  1. An administrative fee of €20;
  2. A valid motor insurance policy and any other ancillary documents;

Once the Authority accedes to the application, the applicant would receive a temporary licensing disc and it must then be fixed on the vehicle's windscreen. The disc shall contain all the necessary details, particularly relating to the period within which the vehicle first arrived in Malta and it shall also indicate the expiry date which may not exceed the 30 day time limit.

Vehicles brought to Malta under a contract of lease or hire

The Maltese legislator also took into consideration the vehicles which are brought into the country from other Member States under a contract of lease or hire by resident and non-residents, and who are not entitled to benefit from any of the exemptions provided for by the Motor Vehicles Registration and Licencing Act ("The Act"). Thus if such a contract of lease or hire goes beyond the period of 30 days the said vehicle would have to be registered with the Authority and a registration tax would be due in accordance with the same Act.

On the other hand, if an individual does qualify under any of the exemptions listed in the Act and the enjoyment of the vehicle extends beyond specified expiry period, it shall also be registered accordingly with the Authority and a registration tax would be payable in conformity with the Act.

Rejection of an Application by the Authority

The Authority shall not be precluded from rejecting the registration of a vehicle under a contract of lease or hire. Consequently, the vehicle may not be driven on the Maltese roads upon the lapse of the 30 day time limit. Nonetheless, the legislator sought to provide a suitable remedy, by giving the aggrieved applicant the opportunity to appeal the Authority's decision in front of the Administrative Review Tribunal and in conformity with the rules provided for by the Administrative Justice Act.

The Authority might come across a vehicle which has not been registered and it still being used beyond the lapse of the 30 day time limit. In such a case, the Authority may seize the vehicle and proceed to take into its own custody and store the unauthorised vehicle, in observance of the Clamping and Removal of Vehicles and Encumbering Objects Regulations. The Authority shall continue to enforce this rule by calling for the Commissioner of Police to proceed with criminal proceedings against the individual who has hired or leased the vehicle and against the individual in whose custody the vehicle was found.

The vehicle in question shall not be given back to the individual who has hired or leased the vehicle or to the custodian, save for and if such individual has been acquitted by the Court for the purported offence. Additionally, the vehicle may be given back, if the individual or the custodian has resolved his situation at law and paid any accruing registration tax and any other supplementary fees that may be due. The resulting acquittal does not automatically provide the right to seek and file for any damages against the Commissioner of Police and the Authority. However, damages may be due if an act of bad faith was committed by the Authority, on condition that the prosecution of the offence commenced not later than 14 days after the day on which the vehicle was confiscated. It is interesting to note that if the individual is unknown, the 14 day time span shall start to lapse from the day on which the individual is acknowledged.

Catering for the Maltese Film Industry

The legislator took into consideration Malta's flourishing film industry within the promulgation of the amendments. Thus, the legislator took into account those vehicles which are imported into Malta. Indeed, the Authority may issue temporary special number plates which shall be valid for 6 months upon the payment of €200 and the presentation of the requisite documents to the Authority. The six month validity period shall apply for those vehicles which have not yet been registered or which are not licenced for use on the road in Malta for the purposes of exhibition, filming or other unique purposes. If the special plates are not returned within a timely manner a €100 fee shall be due to the Authority for each plate.

The above mentioned amendments will surely bring about the necessary improvements within Malta's transport infrastructure. The Executive Police and the Authority now have suitable tools and powers to remedy any offences and to further control the vehicles which are imported into Malta. Additionally, the legislator also catered for the necessary remedies for the aggrieved individual who is not satisfied with the actions taken by the Authority or the Executive Police.

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The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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