Registration: which side is the cheapest?

On both sides of the island, vehicle owners must pay a tax on the registration certificate. Both systems are totally different. We compared the costs for motorists and the revenues generated by the authorities.

 In Sint Maarten, every year vehicle owners must pay the tax on motor vehicles (Motor Vehicle Tax). At the beginning of the year, they must pay it to the Government, and in return, a new licence plate is issued; the number remains the same, only the background color is different. An allotted time is granted to proceed with the exchange under which systematic checks by the police force are organized (and announced) in order to encourage the owners to pay.

This year, the Government services of Sint Maarten welcome the public from Tuesday, January 3rd. They must go to the Service Center located in Simpson Bay to pay the tax but will be able to pick up the new licence plates just three days later.

The amount of the fee is unchanged in 2017. For a private vehicle (registered M), the amount is of NAF 275.00 to which NAF 12.50 is added, corresponding to the price of the two licence plates. Therefore, the owner has to pay NAF 287.50 or USD 159.72.

♦ On the French side, the system is different and identical to that of the metropolitan France. The owners must pay a tax on registration certificates (automobile licences) at the time of the purchase. Until December 31, 2014, this tax was EUR 150, regardless of the private vehicle. From the 1st of January 2015 a new regulation came into force: the owner pays according to the rated horsepower of his vehicle (as in metropolitan France). In Saint Martin, the rate has been set at EUR 36.00 per horsepower, and EUR 8.00 if the vehicle is over ten years old.

Therefore, for a six-horsepower vehicle, the owner pays EUR 216.00; for a vehicle of 12 HP, EUR 432.00.

The difference with the system of Sint Maarten is that the owner pays the tax only once at the time of the issuance of the automobile licence. And not every year. If the first time, the cost is more important on the French side, however it becomes more advantageous after two years.

For example, over a period of four years, an individual whose car is 6 HP, paid a tax of EUR 216.00 in Saint Martin, or USD 638.00 in Sint Maarten.

♦ Technical inspection

As part of the technical inspection, inspections are mandatory on both sides of the island. In Sint Maarten, they must be performed every two years, and on the French side, the inspection must be done before the fourth year of the new vehicle, then every two years.

In Sint Maarten, the inspection cost is around USD 35.00, and in Saint Martin EUR 75.00 (in metropolitan France, the average price is EUR 66.59 according to a survey from Simplauto).

According to our example of a private owner in Saint Martin whose car is 4 years old and is 6 HP, he would have paid EUR 216.00 for the automobile licence and EUR 75.00 for the technical inspection, which makes a total of EUR 291.00. The same owner in Sint Maarten would have paid USD 638.00 and two technical inspections, for a total of around USD 710.00.

Even for an owner of a vehicle of 12 HP, the French system is more advantageous: EUR 507.00 versus USD 710.00.

♦ Generated revenues

On October 30, 2014, the elected members of the Territorial Council voted this tax modification on registration certificates in order to generate additional revenues of EUR 600,000. In 2015, the Collectivité has thus collected around EUR 845,000, or + 130% compared to 2014.

In 2015, the Motor Vehicle tax has provided to the Government of Sint Maarten a revenue of NAF 9.18 million, or USD 5.1 million through the renewal of 30,737 pairs of licence plates.









Estelle Gasnet