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Russian-registered cars must exit Finland no later than 15 March 2024

Publication date 12.3.2024 15.10

Cars in Finland that registered in Russia must be removed from the territory of the European Union no later than 15 March 2024. An exception comprises vehicles owned by students and persons working in Finland under a valid fixed-term employment contract. Such vehicles can remain in Finland under certain conditions. This exception also concerns cars that are in Finland under the EU sanctions regulation.

The transition period of six months for the exit of Russian-registered cars from the EU will expire. On 16 September 2023, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs issued a policy based on the regulation of EU sanctions prescribing the removal from Finland of vehicles registered in Russia by no later than 15 March 2024.

Customs emphasises that, also after the expiry of the transition period, Russian-registered vehicles that can legally remain in Finland will be in traffic.

– As of next Saturday, drivers of cars under Russian registration must be able to prove their right to use the vehicles in Finland to the authorities. The relevant documents should be kept in the vehicles when driving, so that drivers can prove their right to use Russian-registered vehicles immediately when they are asked to do so. Indeed, the right to use a car legally cannot be deduced from its licence plate, says Mr Sami Rakshit, Director of the Enforcement Department of Finnish Customs.

If customs authorities meet a Russian-registered vehicle in traffic that has no right to be in Finland, they will detain it and consider possible taxes in each individual case. The consequence of illegal use can be, for example, imposition of customs duty and tax, as well as the removal of a vehicle from the territory of the EU. If payment of car tax is also required, Customs will forward such a matter to the Tax Administration for consideration of taxation.

As for cars exiting Finland, owners should note that it is currently not possible to exit Finland through the eastern border, as border crossing points will be closed until 14 April 2024. Authorities will not issue any separate instructions on practical matters relating to vehicle exits. Instead, car owners are responsible for the decisions concerning their vehicles.

Customs does not have any information on the number of Russian-registered vehicles currently in Finland.

Exceptions for full-time students and persons in fixed-term employment

After the expiry of the transition period, full-time students and persons working in Finland under a valid fixed-term employment contract who reside permanently outside the EU can continue using their vehicles temporarily in Finland. Customs requires that such vehicles were brought to Finland legally before the import ban took effect. Exceptions to temporary admission are subject to certain conditions.

An exception also comprises vehicles that can still enter Finland temporarily in accordance with the EU sanctions regulation, and therefore remain in Finland legally under Russian registration. Such vehicles include cars owned by EU or EEA citizens who are permanent residents of Russia or by their family members, cars with diplomatic licence plates, as well as cars of persons arriving in Finland under humanitarian grounds.

After the transition period expires, drivers of cars subject to also the said exceptions must, when requested, provide sufficient information to the authorities about their right to use their vehicles in Finland.

Background to the import ban on Russian-registered cars

The EU import sanctions against Russia that were implemented on 7 October 2022 prohibited imports of cars from Russia.

According to the national policy by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs that took effect on 16 September 2023, cars registered in Russia were not allowed to cross the eastern border to EU territory even temporarily. Cars that were already in Finland at that time were issued a transition period for exiting the country within six months. The transition period expires on 15 March 2024.

The policy by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs was based on the instructions given by the EU Commission in September 2023 on the import ban on Russian-registered vehicles to the territory of the EU. The ban was specified once more, as it was included in the 12th EU sanctions package that took effect on 19 December 2023.

The EU sanctions regulation allows certain exceptions concerning cars registered in Russia, enabling customs clearance, taxation and registration of such vehicles in Finland.

Appendix: Policy regarding vehicles under Russian registration in Finland as of 16 March 2024

Previous Customs press release on the start of the import ban (15 September 2023): Cars registered in Russia can no longer enter Finland as of midnight today

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Media release Pakotteet