A look at the changes for Scottish drivers if its a YES
Meanwhile at the DVLA
Scotland is on the verge of a potential yes vote on the question of independence. Imagine if the majority vote to break away from the United Kingdom. The potential nightmare related to the DVLA, VOSA and DSA could leave millions caught up in the crossfire. The powers behind the independence movement promise to continue with the current system until the end of the first term of an independent Scottish parliament, meanwhile establishing a system to take force shortly after.
Whilst this sounds logical, what could the potential pitfalls be for the average motorist on either side of the border?
1 – Number plates
Those within England and Wales would have no such problems in these regards. A new Scottish nation would need to create a new system to differentiate itself from its former kingdom. New combinations of numbers and letters will be necessary, along with the ambiguity of whether it can legally fly the EU flag in the left-hand corner. However the main concern will be the burden of replacing expiring plates and whether this will cost the consumer. Amongst other potential costs of secession, changing number plates will surely antagonise many Scots.
2 – Taxation
Love it or loathe it, Great Britain has established a system of vehicle taxation familiar with most. Although confusing at times, particularly for post-2001 vehicles, all information is available online. Will an independent Scotland be fairer in these regards? There is certainly little evidence to suggest that Scots will fork out more annually. However, to offset initial start-up costs, one can suspect that taxes may fail to qualify as a good deal. Plus, will certain vehicles which benefit from lower tax bands in Britain translate accordingly into a new Scottish system?
The rest of Britain will surely need to balance costs over the short term too, especially with the new tax disc system coming into place in a fortnight. Newly installed ANPR camera technology across Scotland would become irrelevant after a couple of years, at a spectacular cost. Could this also lead to an increase south of the border?
3 – Learner Drivers and Licenses
Will learner drivers from England be allowed to drive over the border into Scotland? Can a Scottish student acquire a British license whilst studying in England and use it at home? The questions in regards to licenses shall remain the work of fiction and guesswork for the time being. Of course this will all depend on laws passed in Scotland, but those who regularly cross the border could potentially find issues acquiring licenses. Should the European Union accept Scotland, a UK license will be valid in Scotland, much like the rest of Europe. However, should opposition from Spain’s Rajoy block access, potential issues could be on the horizon.
4 – Foreign registered vehicles
The laws within Britain dictate that foreign registered vehicles can reside upon our shores for no longer than a period of six months continuously without applying to re-register. Should Scotland break away from the union, will a new six month limit be imposed on Scottish drivers in Britain? Likewise, would Scotland abide by the European norm of six months, or will they introduce local laws, like Spain, which grant significantly less time?
Such measures need to be considered carefully to prevent abuse of tax systems. Spain’s government introduced sanctions on foreign vehicles kept by international residents, forcing export or registration after only 30 days.
5 – Insurance
If Scotland becomes an independent country and is accepted into the EU, then one can assume that future policies will define Scotland as like any other EU state, despite the promise of a common travel area. Normal insurance policies allow for 90 days travel per calendar year abroad, so it’s possible that Scotland could find itself defined in a similar manner; a potential liability for frequent travellers from the rest of the UK.
Should they fall foul of EU re-entry, would this become a potential problem for Scottish drivers on the continent? Arguably drivers of countries like Switzerland tend to experience few problems in this manner, but the potential for a litigious nightmare shall rear its ugly head soon enough.
Whether or not Scotland votes yes will become evident shortly. In the meantime, motorists certainly have some food for thought on both sides of the fence.
by Mike Armstrong