Danish Curiosities – Yellow Plates

The big, white gas guzzler has a yellow licence plate. That means the owner paid about 30% less than a person who bought the same car on standard plates. There are no rear seats in the Audi, a condition of yellow plate ownership. They are meant to be vans. 

2015 Audi and 2CV

The car on the right has standard plates and gets no special deduction. It’s carrying a supply of toilet roll and other materials. It’s a working car. The Audi is carrying air.

In Denmark five door vehicles with no rear seats can be sold as commercial vans, a rule designed in the days when these were Escorts, Golfs and Astras and the like. I never see Astra/Golf vans but I often see Porsche Cayennes, Audi Q7s and even Chevrolet Camaros with yellow plates.

If you can afford a Porsche Cayenne with yellow plates then you can afford a Focus van. If you don’t buy the Focus van you are evidently not carrying anything. Denmark’s a funny place. It’s not clear why the tax office allows this anomaly to persist but I think it’s for fear of alienating right-leaning businessy types.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

12 thoughts on “Danish Curiosities – Yellow Plates”

  1. Every country has its anomalies, but that is pretty stupid. Do people get spot checked for retro-fitted rear seats? Can they carry passengers providing they sit on the floor?

    The UK has a similar situation where car derived vans qualify for reclaimed VAT if they have no rear seats, but the windows must be opaque. I’ve yet to see a Bentley Continental so treated, but it could be done.

    Years ago Ford attracted the ire of Customs & Excise with the Mk3 Escort van by inserting a thin glass window behind the driver’s door to aid visibility.

    Motorhomes used for business can get VAT benefits and people used to buy VW vans fitted out in the most vestigial way (I think they needed a sink and some sort of folding bed).

    I would feel very silly owning that Q7. But then I would if it had all the seats.

  2. I don´t know about the spot checking. The rules are that the vehicle must only be used for business. If that is the case, a lot of people make a living using yellow plate Vitara´s to lower speedboats into the sea on nice sunny weekends. The sociology of the phenomenon is murky.
    On the one hand, even without a tax cut you need a lot of money for one of these, enough to buy a good car with no yellow plates. Every one knows yellow plates mean you didn´t pay full whack and that partly obliterates the point of such expensive goods. Who´d be impressed if you Rolex carried a badge saying “I got this on sale 30% off”. It´s 30% less impressive straightaway. There might very well be a small need for “commercial” high-performance SUVs. If so the owners should not mind my rule that they be painted white or black and have the firms name in contrasting lettering in a field enclosed by a box one third the length of the car. That way everyone would know a commercial car was in use.

  3. It´s odd. I think there are a lot of these cars around so it´s not a constituency the government want to annoy (it is a left wing one) or dislikes (if it’s a right wing one). Thus the liberals ignore the law because most (all, most likely) yellow plate drivers are voting right-wing and the social democrats don´t want to give small-time entrepreneurs a reason to vote against them. I say stuff these drivers, they never vote left-wing any way (you can tell which side of the fence I sit, with my little red flags).
    On a parallel topic, McDonald´s have managed to pay next to no tax here in all the three decades they have been open. Apparently they miraculously just break even every year. Nestle pay nearly no tax here either. If it´s not profitable here they just flip off.

  4. You don’t have to have a business to qualify for the use of yellow plates and the accompanying tax advantages as far as I know, using a van privately is enough to get a tax discount. Also many light commercials such as ex-post Berlingos are weighed down for even cheaper private use. This article says you can reduce the price of a luxury motor by about half by removing the rear seats: http://www.business.dk/privatoekonomi/muskelbiler-paa-papegoejeplader-til-halv-pris

  5. In caps lock, I ask then what is the point if the cars have no commercial use? This is like selling Havana cigars at a discount just because the label has been removed. Wierd. I really want to throw stones at these people. Sorry, but this makes me cross.

  6. I quite like the image of a rich but tight-fisted Dane buying themselves a New Phantom with the back seats removed and being driven around, bum sliding around on the floor, but happy because of the huge amount of Krone they have saved.

  7. The Phamtom isn’t permissable as a four door but if you get Pininfarina to do a five door version it will be given that discount. Jaguar’s soft-roader and the Bentley Frey Bentos will be eligible.

  8. Holland has similar law, although commercial vehicles are required to have raised roof, if I remember correctly.
    And then, at the end of their commercial life (with 250-300,000km on the clock..), they are sold in Eastern Europe, with back seats installed and separating nets removed (..as well as roughly 100-150,000km, but that’s another story…)…
    Considering that actual manufacturer’s car prices in Denmark are amongst the lowest in Europe, I can seen many of this ‘commercial’ Q7 and Cayennes being converted back to pasanger car spec with second-hand parts and sold eastbound as great second hand buys…..:)
    Ridiculous legislation, but there is one in every country, as somebody has already said…

    1. NL abandoned tax discounts for private use of commercial vehicles in 2005.

    2. That’s logical. But I was talking mostly about technical modification seen on comercial cars I came across, that came from Holland.

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