Many luxury cars are on Cyprus’ roads on temporary license plates without being registered, with the state losing thousands of euros in registration fees and road tax.
According to a Politis daily, Cyprus MPs were presented with a list of businesspeople driving around in luxury SUVs or limos, which have not been registered.
Reportedly the owners are cruising the streets with their luxury vehicles worth over 100,000 bearing test plates.
In comments to Politis, Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos confirmed there are abuses with test number plates.
“This ministry is concerned over the matter and has launched a series of measures to address it,” the minister said.
According to the current legislation, the use of these number plates is allowed only until a purchase agreement is signed and the vehicle is registered and in no case can the same plate be used for more than 15 days for the same vehicle.
According to the information presented to MPs, there are cases where test plates have been used for the same car for more than five years.
Test plates are provided to facilitate car dealers and potential buyers who want to take a vehicle for a spin before buying or driving it until it is registered.
Car dealers pay a premium of €1,300 to the Department of Road Transport per year.
Dealers have the right to use the plates on any unregistered or immobilised motor vehicle for demonstration or testing purposes.
The fine for using a number plate for more than 15 days is €200, regardless of when it has been attached to the vehicle.
This has allowed many dealers and buyers exploiting the system to get away with paying registration fees and taxes until the police fine them.
People taking advantage of the system by using a test driving number plate on their luxury vehicles could save thousands in taxes.
Carrying out surprise checks at the premises of car dealers, officials of the Department of Road Transport and the Audit Office found there is systematic abuse of test plates.
They found that some dealers had used the test plates for their benefit, installing them on their private vehicles.
Officials also found that the same number plates were being used at the same time by different dealerships, while cancelled plates after being reported as lost or stolen were still in use.
The same set of number plates was used to accommodate two vehicles.
Violating regulations on test number plates incurs a one-year prison term or a fine of up to €5,000, or both.