Legalization Process of “Key-only” Vehicles Begins; Pakistani Cars Taken Out of Circulation

The Ministry of Finance has started the process of registering vehicles without customs documents, also known as “key-only” vehicles. These are vehicles that have been smuggled into the country, most probably after having been stolen in countries like Pakistan, Tajikistan and Iran, and hence do not have either Afghan registration or license plates, but only a key – hence the term “key-only”. This process is to continue until December 17, during which period the owners of key-only vehicles will receive a customs document and a traffic document after being registered in the database of the Ministry of Finance and the customs product process. Thus, citizens are only given about two months to legalize the right-hand drive vehicles. Officials, however, say that due to the illegality of Pakistani vehicles circulating in the country, which have caused the majority of traffic accidents, such vehicles will not be given documentation. Thus, owners of Pakistani cars have up to two months to take their vehicles out of circulation or to dismantle them. Authorities warn that with the end of the legal deadline, no unlicensed vehicles in the country will be allowed to circulate on Afghan roads.

According to the decision of the National Security Council, the process of customs clearance and distribution of documents to key-only vehicles in the country began on Saturday, October 31. Acting Minister of Finance Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal told a news conference that the process of documenting vehicles without customs and traffic documents in the country to prevent illegal activities has begun. He added that legalizing vehicles is a key to increasing security in the country, as these vehicles are used in many illegal activities. He warned that once the vehicle registration process is completed and legalized, owners of key-only vehicles will be dealt with legally.

Officials at the ministry said that the reason for starting the process was to ensure security and public order, prevent traffic disruptions and increase national revenue. Shamroz Khan Masjidi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Finance, explained to 8 Subh that key-only vehicles were vehicles that had been smuggled into the country, and whose owners had not cleared them through customs. He added that this process officially started on Saturday, October 31, and during the period given for this purpose, cars from 1990 to 2020 will be seized. He added that owners of undocumented vehicles are required to register their vehicles at customs by December 17 this year. Mr. Masjidi said that the process was being carried out by the Customs and Revenue Department in non-customs provinces. The Ministry warned that complaints concerning registration and processing of undocumented vehicles after the end of the specified period would not be accepted and all illegal vehicles would be confiscated by the relevant authorities.

According to information provided by the Ministry of Finance, there is a discount being offered on the tariffs for different models of key-only vehicles. According to the decision of the institutions, an 85% discount in customs fees is provided for non-armored vehicles from 1990 to 2000, 75% for those from 2010 to 2016 and 35% for those from 2016 to 2020. In addition, a discount of about 55% is provided for armored vehicle models from 2000 to 2007, about 45% for those from 2008 to 2015 and 35% for those from 2016 to 2020. Shamroz Khan Masjidi said that the original price of the car would depend on its condition, and thus, factors like how new the car is, its model and others play a role. All this information is registered in the customs database. Officials state that if vehicles in these three categories are not included in the tariff, they will be subject to a discount of 25% of the product price. Thus, all vehicles after being processed are exempted from customs and traffic fines.

According to Mr. Masjedi, car owners can go to the customs office and obtain the relevant form. He said that car owners can fill out this form at home and pay for it according to the new tariff after going through the steps outlined. He specified that the owners of key-only vehicles, after obtaining the customs document, must go to the traffic office and for the next steps in this process. He said that smuggled vehicles will be legalized after obtaining a customs document, but that biometrics, logos, and legal, criminal and security cases come under the Ministry of Interior and the Traffic Department. The ministry has published a legal process on social media platforms and sites that provides owners of keyless vehicles with seven steps to legalize their vehicles. It is worth mentioning that according to the decision of the National Security Council, people who import undocumented vehicles can be arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Finance, however, clarified that vehicles known as “Pakistan Hand” (i.e., left-hand drive vehicles, such as those used in Pakistan) are not included in the program, as vehicles that cannot be used on the roads under the country’s laws will be removed from circulation. He added that the fate of Pakistani vehicles is to either be destroyed (dismantled) or sold and relocated. The Traffic Authority also stated that such left-hand drive (or “Pakistan-Hand) vehicles are one of the main causes of traffic accidents in the country and operate in violation of road laws. The head of the department, Khan Mohammad Shinwari, told 8 Subh on Saturday that Pakistani vehicles were violating traffic laws and causing serious problems for traffic flow. It is worth mentioning that due to the fact that key-only vehicles are not registered, the exact number of Pakistani vehicles in Afghanistan is not known.

Amrullah Saleh, the first vice president, who took charge of Kabul security two weeks ago, announced on his first day in office that undocumented vehicles would be legalized. He added that complaints about undetected vehicles have been circulating for years, adding to the problem of tracking down criminals. Mr. Saleh warned that if the owners of these vehicles do not pay their taxes for another two months and do not legalize their vehicles, these vehicles will be confiscated and handed over to the police.