The French authorities are planning to introduce a new Ecotax from the 1st January 2014 for any vehicle using the French national road (N’ Road) network. The Road tax will affect all freight vehicles weighing more than 3.5 tonnes, and could affect a significant number of UK based hauliers.
The charges will be levied in bandings and the exact details are still being completed by the French Government. Estimates suggest that around 800,000 vehicles from all over Europe need to be registered for the Ecotax by January 1st – unfortunately, up to 10,000 applications per day are said to be being processed, and with just over 2 months until the deadline, in seems unlikely that applicants will see their forms processed on time.
The suggested time-frame for the registration process is six weeks, however applications are being held up due to the red-tap and incorrect documentation from applicants.
One of the main problems UK based hauliers are facing is complying with the requirements of the Certificate of Conformity. This is needed to prove the class and emission rating of the engine – unfortunately, no such UK version of the document exists.
The fines are not to be taken lightly either, as first time offenders can face a payout of up to €750 and repeat offenders could face a €1500 fine or having their vehicle impounded.
Dover ferry booking agency, Harbour Shipping, is one of a small number of UK companies who have been allowed to complete the registration process on behalf of other operators. Chris Howell, managing director, said, “The French have delayed the implementation of the tax from 1 October 2013 to 1 January but we believe this is the final in a series of delays. So unless UK companies grasp the nettle now, I predict chaos ahead.
“The French are carefully scrutinising all applications and many are being returned on the basis of minor errors. Other than pan-European logistics operators, some of the most likely affected sectors include horseboxes, motor-racing transporters and exhibition companies.”.