Representatives of government agencies in Lithuania and Finland commented on the European Union norm requiring the confiscation of personal cars registered in Russia. In Lithuania, Russians are advised not to enter the country; in Finland they say that there are no plans to confiscate cars yet.
The seizure of vehicles is implied by the sanctions imposed against Russia; personal cars with Russian license plates are considered imported to the EU. This interpretation was confirmed by the European Commission, noting, however, that its explanations are only advisory in nature.
If we interpret the explanation of the European Commission literally, then the customs authorities of EU countries may not allow not only cars, but also personal belongings of Russians, including laptops, smartphones, cameras, cosmetics, suitcases and toilet paper, to enter the European Union. Isolated cases of equipment confiscation have been reported. In Germany, several cases of confiscation of cars with Russian registration have been registered, both from local residents and from those passing through the country in transit and from tourists.
Lithuanian Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Jovita Neliupsiene told BNS that the rule on confiscation of vehicles was brought to the attention of local authorities in June. According to her, motorists entering the country are advised not to do this. “If a policeman, Lithuanian, Polish, Latvian, stops a citizen with Russian license plates and sees that the border crossing occurred earlier than 24 hours (…), in principle this means that the person temporarily imported the car (…), in such cases the car should be confiscated,” she told the agency.
According to Neliupšėne, cars have not yet been confiscated in Lithuania. She also noted that the norm does not apply to transit vehicles heading to or from Kaliningrad.
In Finland, representatives of customs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are assessing the consequences of the interpretation of the rules by the European Commission, the national broadcaster Yle reports. At the time of publication of the news, the cars were not confiscated; customs plans to warn if they plan to do this. However, there are fewer cars at border checkpoints, the material says.
The countries of the Schengen zone bordering Russia, except Norway, after the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for 22 years, banned Russians from crossing the border without serious grounds. Entry is possible only for special purposes. We are mainly talking about trips of family members of EU citizens, and in the case of Lithuania, also about transit to or from Kaliningrad.